Carl Froch is hopping mad at a couple of his countrymen. Does he have a right to be?
Froch is engaging in final preparations for his fight next Saturday against Mikkel Kessler, when the IBF and WBA super middleweight titles will be at stake. But it’s Kessler’s preparation that he seems to be preoccupied with.
That’s because there are two British fighters serving as chief sparring mates for Kessler, a Danish fighter. One of them is George Groves, an undefeated contender and stablemate of Froch’s who is rated #1 by the WBO, #2 by the WBA and #3 by the WBC and who is appearing on the undercard of Saturday’s show; the other is Welshman Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KO’s), a much more unusual case in that he is the current WBO light heavyweight champion and just fought last month in a title defense against Robin Krasniqi.
Cleverly’s connections have rationalized that he came out of the Krasniqi fight (a 12-round decision win) without a mark on him and he can learn a lot from the experience of working with the veteran Kessler. Froch isn’t quite buying that, and asserts the Groves not only won’t spar with him, but also makes reference to him getting knocked out in the gym, “which seems to be happening quite regularly.”
Groves (18-0, 14 KO’s) also could conceivably be an opponent for Froch down the line.
“It just sums up what they are,” he told the London Daily Independent. “I’m a British fighter but they’d rather go out there and help a foreign fighter prepare for the biggest fight of my career.”
Froch, who is highly unorthodox, certainly speaks the truth when he says that neither of those world-class fighters can mimic his style in sparring sessions. But to him, it’s the general principle that is more important.
“I certainly wouldn’t help a foreign fighter prepare for a British fighter and I’ve not spoken to anybody who would,” he says. He expressed disappointment that trainer Adam Booth (who works with Booth), who he considered a friend, would do anything to help his opposition.
The pre-fight buildup has been rather heated, as Froch is out for revenge on Saturday. He was an undefeated fighter, with wins over Andre Dirrell and Jermain Taylor in the Showtime Super Six tournament and the WBC super middleweight championship in tow, when he stepped in against Kessler in Denmark in April 2010. In a fight that was considered by many to be closer than it showed on the judges’ cards, Froch lost the unanimous decision and his title. The rematch takes place in London, which Froch thinks may give him more of a break from those casting the official vote, although he says he is in such great shape that, in his words, “I can’t see him (Kessler) going past eight or nine rounds.”
After dropping a unanimous decision to Andre Ward a year and a half ago, when he lost the WBC 168-pound title that he had regained, Froch’s career is on the upswing once again. In his last two bouts he has scored a resounding fifth-round stoppage over previously undefeated Lucien Bute and knocked out Yusef Mack in a defense. Now he is a favorite over Kessler; you have to lay 2 /1 at most online outlets if you want to place a bet on him.
The fight has generated tremendous interest from ticket buyers, selling out the 20,000-plus seats in the O2 Arena in a matter of hours. Sky TV is doing a pay-per-view presentation. Fans are expecting a war. And so is Froch. he suggests that the fight “could potentially be another Hagler-Hearns.”
And maybe after he is done with this, he will continue the war of words with the two so-called “traitors” who could easily be on a future opponents’ list.