ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Even before beating Glen Johnson Saturday night to set up a Super Six tournament showdown with Andre Ward, Carl Froch had his eye on the gifted American, who was assisting with broadcast duties for Showtime.
“I had one eye on Andre Ward. I saw him at ringside,” Froch said at the post-fight news conference, explaining a distraction that contributed to what he considered a lackluster performance in his victory over Johnson.
But it actually goes back much further. All the way to the beginning, in fact.
“I had a premonition it’d be me and him in the final,” Froch said; so much so, according to the Brit, that he got a glove that he had all the other Super Six participants sign it — except Ward, anticipating that Ward would sign it in the finale.
And let’s be very clear: Ward-Froch is a freaking diehard fan’s fight, a matchup of tough-nosed men with enormous self-belief who can box or mix it up as need be. As much acclaim as Ward has received, Froch still hasn’t gotten enough. “People thinking Froch is an easy fight for Ward aren’t thinking too well,” said Johnson promoter Lou DiBella. “On paper, it’s a great fight. If you don’t like that fight, you aren’t a fight fan.”
Froch, naturally, likes it too. “It’s a fantastic sporting occasion,” he said.
(For more thoughts on Froch-Ward, some from Johnson and a few other tidbits from the news conference, read on.)
Rob McCracken, Froch’s trainer, said good things about Ward. “He’s a tremendous fighter, but so are some of the other fighters that Froch has beaten,” he said.
Froch, too, had some praise. “Olympic gold medals aren’t given out like candy,” he said of Ward. “He’s obviously very good.” He commended Ward’s speed and boxing ability. He even acknowledged that, if the two of them fought ten times, they might split it five each. When they meet, it will be about who’s best prepared that night to make it across the finish line, Froch said.
But he also thinks Ward benefited from hometown refereeing in his fight against Mikkel Kessler, who was damaged by head butts and cuts that hindered him and for which Ward was never penalized. Ward also isn’t a big puncher — and with “a jaw like I’ve got,” that means “trouble” for Ward. He’s got a “pitter patter jab, and he likes to hold and use his head,” Froch said of Ward. As for the boxing ability and foot speed, well, Froch offered that it works for amateurs: “In the professional game, boxing and movement don’t always work for 12 rounds.” With Froch proving to himself in the Johnson fight that he can fight off his back foot, Froch figures he’ll have an additional weapon against Ward, since he’ll be able to set traps and walk Ward into hard shots.
As for Saturday’s fight, Froch thought it was “absolutely disgraceful” that one judge scored the fight a draw. DiBella and crew acknowledged that Froch deserved to win. “The draw was too close,” DiBella said. “The 117-110 was too far. Nobody on this dais thought Froch didn’t win.” DiBella thought Johnson did well early but then was going for one-punch knockouts, and Froch made good adjustments. But he praised Johnson for once more giving 100 percent.
Johnson wasn’t as disappointed as he often has been when he’s lost close bouts. “Such is life,” he said. “We never succeed in everything we try.” But he said he’ll regroup once more. “I’ll be back,” Johnson said. Leon Margules, who also has a promotional stake in Johnson, said, “I’m not disappointed with the effort. I’m disappointed with the result.” Margules called Johnson “one of the all-time greats.”
Froch, by contrast, wasn’t happy with his peformance; he didn’t think he ever got out of “second or third gear.” He was being cautious with Johnson, whom Froch said was tough and dangerous. But for as many big shots as he took, Froch didn’t think this was his toughest fight, with that honor going to his bout with Mikkel Kessler — prompting yet another flurry of Froch griping about the judges’ decision in that showdown.
Froch also had some harsh words for Lucian Bute, who was in attendance Saturday night. “He must be sitting back and having a laugh, wondering how he’s ranked #1,” Froch said, observing that Bute has only ever beaten Librado Andrade while he and the Super Six participants have been squaring off regularly. “If I ever get a chance to fight Lucian Bute, he’s in big, big trouble,” Froch warned.
Get used to more of Froch talking. His new promoter, Matchroom, has a PR blitz in mind. Company official Eddie Hearn said with a Sky Sports platform now available to him in the U.K., Froch can finally become the star he deserves to become for his mentality. “It would be nice to give you an easy fight,” Hearn said to Froch. “But that’s not what he wants. He wants a fight every time.”Then, Hearn said, it’ll be straight to the business of hyping Ward-Froch, an event that deserves the big stage.