Weigh-In from London: Carl Froch—“The Professional”

By Michael Klimes on July 17, 2012
Weigh-In from London: Carl Froch—“The Professional”
Froch is one of the most exhilarating boxer-punchers Britain has ever seen. (Howard Schatz)

In so many ways, we do not live in a meritocracy but a place where mediocrity and meretricious work are rewarded…

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the phenomenon of reality television began to corrode British culture. The show called Big Brother, which pitted members of the general public against each other, conquered primetime television as “interesting personalities” performed tasks to win favor with viewers who followed their every move with fascination and voted whether they should or should not go through to the next round of the show.

Suddenly, it appeared that anyone who wanted to be part of what was “fashionable” had to be part of this ITALICBig Brother cult. People who watched it became, if they did not realize it, amateur anthropologists of a sort as they discussed a particular set of underpants a contestant wore and how it “revealed” some insight into their character. I later discovered that some families’ entire social lives were based on Big Brother. Of course it was not quite George Orwell’s 1984 but was nonetheless surreal. 

That was compounded when I travelled in a friend’s car on the way from school. The conversation between mother and son was about someone whom they spoke with intense concern and intimacy, as if he was an actual member of their family. It took me a long time to decipher that the person was from Big Brother.

Fortunately, I was not asked what I thought about Big Brother or any “interesting personality” from it as there was and will never be anything to think about Big Brother since it was always meant to anesthetize all thought. The same is true of other shows like Jersey Shore where the main purpose is to ridicule or humiliate other participants on the national stage. Some people love to watch others fail in public; it makes them feel better about themselves.

The way reality television distorts the ability to assess quality became apparent to me last Tuesday when I came home hot and harried from work. I read a fine feature in London’s Evening Standard newspaper about Carl Froch by the sports journalist Mihir Bose. The main theme of the article was the lack of recognition Froch has received in Britain despite his excellent achievements in the ring and down-to-earth, no-nonsense professionalism.

Froch came across well in Bose’s piece and has done in many interviews I have seen of him. He criticized Derek Chisora’s erratic behavior and accomplished boorishness during that shambolic brawl with David Haye in Munich in February. Froch touched on the truth that stupid behaviour can be rewarded in society even if it harms other people, especially if it involves swinging tripods and using glass bottles as weapons. 

The most astonishing and telling fact to emerge from Bose’s feature was that Froch was not approached to carry the Olympic torch in his hometown of Nottingham (where he is deservedly celebrated and attracts huge investment) because he, in his own words, “is not a big enough name to carry the Olympic torch.”

Such an admission shocked me and I started to question how success, popularity and money are gained, defined and rewarded in British society. The example of Froch and how little applause he has received is evidence of a wider and deeper malaise in the United Kingdom. In so many ways, we do not live in a meritocracy but a place where mediocrity and meretricious work are rewarded.

There are many figures in public life that are richer, more well-known and celebrated than Froch when they have achieved not a fraction of what Froch has and sacrificed even less. A few of them are famous for being famous which is like being awarded a knighthood by the Queen simply for the virtue of being born although every other human being in the world has been born themselves and does not have a knighthood. The culture of reward in society can be an incendiary, depressing yet necessary topic to debate and Froch’s lack of fame versus say Amir Khan’s. 

Khan was brutally stopped in Las Vegas over the weekend and is person whose ignorance, hubris and inability to perform at the elite level, while he had a much more privileged and sheltered start and trajectory in his career compared to numerous other fighters including Froch, is evidence of a morbid celebrity “culture.” This “culture” is not just prevalent in boxing but infects every level of society whether it is television, journalism, politics, business and music.

In this world, clever marketing, sly presentation and controversial soundbites are more valued than real grit, hard work and talent. Froch is his generation’s Marvin Hagler. Right from the start: he has had to struggle for everything the hard way. Nothing was given to him. It is fair to say Froch has never received the type of adulation or obsessive media attention that Khan received ever since he was a standout amateur at the 2004 Olympics. 

So now let me put my case forward that Carl Froch is one of the leading fighters in the world and one of the best British sportsmen of his generation. He is a better fighter than Khan who now has two back-to-back losses in world title fights.

Khan, before he was brutally stopped by the heavy handed Danny Garcia, was talking about fighting Floyd Mayweather, as if it had already been secured and his victory against Garcia was already written down in the history books.

We all know what happens to boxers who look beyond the opponent in front of them, most of all Khan, which is what he will need to do if he wants to rebuild his career. He can do this with the remarkable gifts, yet he responded to Froch’s judgment that he should retire with the acerbic, “Carl’s always got his little things to say and I’ll leave it to that really. If he wants to retire he can retire. I’m in a tougher division, I’m fighting better opposition and I’m a bigger name than him. That’s what burns him really. People are going to say things after this fight, but people said things after the Prescott fight and you see how I came back from there.”

Khan is not in a superior division, has achieved less, and yet is the bigger star than Froch. The problem is that Khan’s superstardom and the way he is rated as a fighter do not reflect his real record. He is overrated by many, especially himself. 

Since December 2008, Froch has, with the possible exception of Manny Pacquiao, had the toughest fight run of any boxer in his generation. He has fought Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson, Andre Ward and Lucian Bute, one after the other. All of these men were world champions or former world champions when Froch fought them with the exception of Dirrell. He fought in the United States, Denmark and Finland and was away from Nottingham for three years as he tried to establish a reputation. 

All these bouts taken together represent an extraordinary body of work which any fighter from any era would be proud to have on their resume. All of these fighters have noteworthy careers, different fight styles and intriguing backgrounds.

Froch was born and raised in the historical city if Nottingham. His strong accent indicates a distinct dialect associated with his town, which he carries a great affection for and he is also proud of his Polish heritage.

His grandparents immigrated to Britain during World War II and Froch has explained that their hardiness and genes is the reason that he can control his weight easily and gives him an enviable toughness.

He had fine taste in boxing stars as he was influenced by Naseem Hamed, who was a childhood hero of his and inspired him to fight with a low guard. Froch never did and never will have the outrageous athleticism of Hamed and is not able to dodge punches as easily as the unorthodox switch hitter, but he has qualities which are just as good yet harder to discern.

In Froch’s bout against Abraham in November 2010, he successfully wrong-footed a predictable but nonetheless experienced world-class fighter with crippling power in either fist.

Froch, having lost a very hard battle with Mikkel Kessler in Denmark, upset the bookies by putting on a boxing clinic. He demonstrated that he could come back from a painful loss and box with discipline and control.

In his bouts with Jean Pascal, Mikkel Kessler and Glen Johnson, Froch revealed his incredible chin and ability to fight intensely from the first to the final bell. He proved his stamina and competitivness does not wear out when he goes into the championship rounds.

Against Jermain Taylor, Froch took on a redoubtable fighter with a higher level of experience on foreign soil. He travelled to the US, was outboxed soundly but then produced a pulsating stoppage in the final round. He ensured that the bout did not go to the judges.

Against, Andre Dirrell, Froch demonstrated he has trouble with slick boxers and movers that can produce angles. Dirrell provided a degree of insight in how to beat Froch but ultimately did not do enough to emerge victorious in my opinion. Still, Froch proved he could take on an extremely talented yet cagey fighter.

The only fight where Froch has been completely beaten is against the rare talent of Andre Ward who resembles a fusion of Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather in the way he dismantles an adversary. Froch’s limitations as a fighter were obvious in that he did not have the natural foot speed and technical acumen to trouble Ward, but that is a testament to not how bad Froch is but to how gifted Ward is.

Froch’s last performance was a sensational stoppage of Lucian Bute, an unbeaten fighter, on home soil. Froch correctly realized it was all or nothing and produced a show that his music icon, Johnny Cash, would have been proud of. There was passion in Froch’s aggression but it had a method which was beautiful to behold. Froch’s victory against Bute was a watershed moment as he enters what could be the final stage of his career and gives everything else he achieved before Bute a sharper perspective.

Where does Froch go next? He is in his mid-thirties and claims he feels like a man ten years his junior. He could have another two to three years at the top level, maybe even more if he chooses to box a little more but his warrior mentality might not allow him to do that.

A rematch with Mikkel Kessler in Nottingham would be a dream come true for him and fans as well as both fighters are gentlemen and two of the best fighters of their generation. Froch might also go up to the light heavyweight division and fight Nathan Cleverly in an all-British clash and become a champion two weight divisions.

That is a goal which might inspire him and he might also fight Jean Pascal for a second time or Andre Ward, although he probably would not like the latter. Ward is very tricky to beat and difficult to fight. Froch might also want to fight Bernard Hopkins, which seems to be the only iconic name missing on his resume. Pulling off a victory over Hopkins in Madison Square Garden or Las Vegas—like Joe Calzaghe did before him—would certainly fire up Froch.

Still, Froch can only work hard and perform to the best of his ability, which is considerable. I will continue to watch him with concerned interest and know that he remains committed to being a brilliant fighter and one of the meanest and most exhilarating boxer-punchers Britain has ever seen. I like to call him, echoing the title of W.C. Heinz’s masterly boxing novel: The Professional

Weigh-In from London: Business as Usual
Weigh-In from London: Chris Eubank Was a Shrewd Realist
Weigh-In from London: Carl Froch—“The Professional”

Michael Klimes is a journalist and writer based in the United Kingdom. He works for Japan’s leading news agency, JIJI Press, at the London bureau. He writes about a variety of topics. You can visit his website at: www.michaelklimes.com to see his interests. His twitter page is here: http://twitter.com/#!/misaklimes.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Carl Froch vs Lucian Bute part 1/3

Carl Froch vs Lucian Bute part 2/3

Carl Froch vs Lucian Bute part 3/3

Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch: Full Fight Part 1/4 by TheOfficialRobz

Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch: Full Fight Part 2/4 by TheOfficialRobz

Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch: Full Fight Part 3/4 by TheOfficialRobz

Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch: Full Fight Part 4/4 by TheOfficialRobz

Carl Froch vs. Glen Johnson - The 8th Round - SHOWTIME Boxing

Carl Froch vs Arthur Abraham Round 10 : Froch hurts Abraham

Carl Froch knocks out Jermain Taylor

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  1. calico-uk 09:42am, 07/23/2012

    I hate to Admit this but Britain and its press do not support its winners by far at all. Even less so if your a White man.

    Painful to read but nevertheless very true.

    Thats why I left the overtaxed shit hole.

  2. the thresher 03:27pm, 07/19/2012

    The Tache, peace

  3. The Tache 02:23am, 07/19/2012

    Cheers Raxman, it’s not that I think he is the best boxer ever or has the most attractive style, I just respect his attitude to the sport. Get in with the best in your class and give it a go, some you win, some you lose but at least you have put your head on the block.
    I think a rematch with Kessler is Froch’s ideal next bout, so he can satisfy his warrior spirit’s desire for revenge. Assuming he wins that maybe a clash with Nathan Cleverly at L/HW could provide a nice pay day with the all British angle. After that, a rematch with Ward, which he would probably lose in all fairness, and ride off into the sunset. There, script finished, and they all lived happily ever after.

  4. raxman 06:56pm, 07/18/2012

    The Tache - i loved your “when did telling the truth become trash talk?”
    Touche, Tache! at work. gotta go. i got no prob with you and i being the heads of the cobra’s cheer sqaud!! i wasn’t convinced early days - i thought he looked like he shouldn’t have been able to win. awkward style, come from behind victories and a big mouth, were all reasons i doubted him. but he kept fighting the best and beating them. and by kessler i was a full blooded convert - i was same with cotto until mosley

  5. The Tache 09:29am, 07/18/2012

    @The Thresher
    I don’t think I did put words in your mouth, it certainly wasn’t my intention. I was merely giving some examples of why I don’t consider Froch to be one of boxing’s trash talkers, and to be fair, it was you who mentioned it in the first line of your first post.
    Anyway, we can agree to disagree about the severity or otherwise of Froch’s trash talk, at least we agree that he is an honest pro who is willing to put it on the line. Maybe I am quick to defend him but part of that probably because it irks me that dedicated sportsmen like Froch don’t always get the recognition they deserve while others take an easier path and get more rewards. Sadly, I am not convinced the Polish heritage will help much in his promotion, there are 100’s of thousands of Poles in England and it hasn’t done much so far. Did you know his Taylor fight wasn’t even shown in Britain, not even on free TV. There was a hasty replay after he had won but it wasn’t planned. British champion, first defence against an, at the time, top challenger, away from home and he can’t get on the telly. Even dafter is his Pascal fight was shown live on mainstream, free TV where it generated some interest in non-boxing fans. Even some of the women at work were talking about it, instead of X Factor for a change. Whereas Amir Khan used to be on pay per view against domestic level fighters. Go figure!!
    Someone has to be cheerleader for him, so it might as well be me and Raxman.
    Anyway, I look forward to your future article.

  6. the thresher 08:17am, 07/18/2012

    Tache, wow , you are pretty sensitive about Froch, I already told you I liked him, but as for trash talk, please do not put words in my mouth, Rather than debate you on this, I’ll write a piece on the subject.

    Today he came out and said “it’s to shut up Pavlik.” Froch says he’s had enough of Pavlik’s talk..“Pavlik has been calling me out , so I’d like to shut him up,” Froch said. “If we can get him over to Nottingham, that’s one the fans would want. He’s just one name, and there are a couple of other names that Eddie’s [Hearn] looking at. We’re looking at November 3rd, or November 10th.”

  7. The Tache 07:41am, 07/18/2012

    Froch and Cotto ARE my favourite fighters, I don’t care that they aren’t the absolute best, I care that they do the best with what they got and aren’t afraid to take risks and get beaten.
    As for the trash talk, I still don’t think Froch is nearly as bad as others, if he has said something out of order about Calzaghe in the past then I am prepared to admit I was wrong about that.
    I suspect though that it is along the lines of “Calzaghe stayed at home for years taking easy fights”, “Calzaghe won’t fight me because he is scared of taking risks”, “Calzaghe beat Hopkins and Jones when they were old and past it.”
    When did telling the truth become trash talk? It’s nothing compared to Tyson’s ranting and scuffling, or David Haye and his “This fight will be as one-sided as a gang rape” comment before the Harrison fight, or the decapitated head T-Shirt, or even Garcia’s dad and his semi-racist comments, or Hopkins and his “No white man can beat me” talk.
    IMO, all worse than saying that you think you can beat someone.
    As I say, if there are quotes I don’t know about from Froch, then someone feel free to educate me.

  8. raxman 04:34pm, 07/17/2012

    that was a great read - until you felt the need to involve the p word - what the hell are you comparing pacquiao’s accomplishments to froch’s for? where are the catchweights and single style fighters on froch’s cv. there is only 1 high profile fighter who’s resume compares to froch’s and that is cotto. froch and cotto should be the most popular fighters in the world. they always come to fight, they fight anyone and never stack a fight against their opponents.
    froch destroyed bute. destroyed him! i for one don’t actually think this was close to his best accomplishment because i think that in the boxing world in general, and on this site in particular, bute was the most over rated fighter in the sport. ted and others shot me down for saying so, insisting it wasn’t who he beat but how he beat them - the same argument made for canelo. but i think that argument was settled in may
    anyway froch is totally the man. i hope he rematches both kessler and ward soon -  i see him smashing kessler but can’t see him being able to do much different with ward -unless dawson softens him up - stylistically ward is too slick but he was certainly fading in the final rounds so maybe froch and his team could devise some way of wearing ward out a little earlier, giving froch time to get the stoppage.
    one thing is for certain, you’ll never doze off watching a froch fight!

  9. The Thresher 03:27pm, 07/17/2012

    I believe his Polish Jewish heritage, if marketed properly, could yield big dividends in the USA.

  10. the thresher 03:24pm, 07/17/2012

    “As for his trash talking, it really isn’t that bad.” Wonder what Joe Calzaghe would say about that?

  11. The Tache 02:49pm, 07/17/2012

    While I think of it, with regards to the comments about retiring that have upset Khan, if you picked a different line from the interview then you could change the headline from “Froch says Khan should retire” to “Froch says Khan can come back.”
    But the media doesn’t work like that, does it?

  12. The Tache 02:40pm, 07/17/2012

    Excellent article, I honestly think it is one of the best i have read on this site, although that might be because it neatly sums up all the reasons I love Carl Froch and have come to loath David Haye.
    Froch is a symbol of what is sadly missed in England these days, dedication, hard work, taking responsibility for your own actions and not being brought up with a ridiculous sense of entitlement that comes from today’s overwhelming welfare state.
    Haye is the symbol of modern England, hype, soundbites and as long as I’m getting what I want who cares how I got it, and if you don’t like it then you can f@ck off.
    The pity is that if David Haye had a fraction of Froch’s attitude he could have been so much more.
    The pity for Froch is he has never captured the general public’s attention like Hatton, Khan and Haye have, regardless of how deserving he may be.
    As for his trash talking, it really isn’t that bad, it seems more like the self-confidence you would expect from an athlete, and which sometimes strays into a touch of arrogance. I don’t recall him saying anything offensive in the past. As for the lovely Rachael, better seen and not heard, sorry but I don’t like the Scouse accent!!

  13. the thresher 01:29pm, 07/17/2012

    Hmmm. I love Froch, but until he gets his trash talking under more control, I am not yet ready to annoint him KING. In this regard, his behavior against Bute was a good start in the right direction. If he would learn to keep the clam zipped before the fights and let his loved one do the talking, he would be better served.

    That said, he is yet another in a long line of truly exciting Brit fighters (Eubank, Watson, Benn, Thompson, etc) and now one of my favorites because he is one who believes that the best fight the best.

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