Home > Boxing > Carl Froch: Britain’s Unheralded Superstar

Carl Froch: Britain’s Unheralded Superstar

If truth be told, boxing is something of a secondary sport in Britain but sometimes a world class British fighter comes along who transcends the sport and becomes a crossover star. Frank Bruno, Lennox Lewis, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan, David Haye and Barry McGuigan all fit this description, as do super-middleweights Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Joe Calzaghe. But fellow 168 pounder Carl Froch? Not quite. In fact, not even close.

If one looks at this from a purely sporting standpoint, there is no obvious reason why this should be the case. Froch is a two-time (and the current) WBC World Super-Middleweight champion and in a country which enjoys relatively little sporting success, it is astonishing that this fact has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. In terms of boxing ability, Froch is very much worthy of being mentioned in the same breath of the fighters listed above. The Nottingham-born fighter can box technically and to a game plan (as he showed against Arthur Abraham), but he is, at heart, very much a fighter who likes nothing more than a good old-fashioned tear up. Froch’s style is consequently very much a crowd-pleasing one, as anybody who watched his fights against Jean-Pascal and Mikkel Kessler can testify. He has regularly demonstrated a willingness to fight anybody anywhere and his involvement in Showtime’s Super Six tournament has seen him take on Mikkel Kessler in Denmark, Arthur Abraham in Finland and Glen Johnson in the United States. How many other top tier fighters would be prepared to adopt this ‘have gloves will travel’ approach? The level of opposition Froch has faced in the last three years reads like a who’s who of the super-middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions: Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrrell, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson. These fighters have a combined record of 191-19-3. Such high quality opposition over such a long period time is unrivalled in world boxing and with the exception of the Kessler fight; Froch was victorious on each occasion.

Froch in action against Andre Dirrell (This image is the property of AP)

Furthermore, he is an affable, intelligent and articulate man who is happy to appear on television and to talk to his fans. So, in short, here is a likeable, world-class athlete with a crowd-pleasing style that is not even recognised by the majority of the British public? One must therefore ask, what has gone wrong?

As a sport, boxing is somewhat anomalous in that the biggest stars are not necessarily the best exponents of the art. Promotion is the key and if a promoter is able to generate enough hype and get his charge enough television exposure, the fighter in question is half-way to being a star. Add a fan-friendly style to the mix and you have a recipe for fame and fortune, almost regardless of the fighter’s ability. Unfortunately for Froch, he has been criminally under-promoted. From the start of Froch’s professional career in 2002 until earlier this year, the super-middleweight was promoted by Mick Hennessy and whilst Hennessy is highly regarded in the business, he failed to give his stable’s leading light anything like enough media exposure. This was partly the result of bad luck as a deal Hennessy had with ITV collapsed when the network announced that that it was pulling out of boxing, but despite many promises, the promoter never succeeded in getting his charge’s fights screened on Sky Sports. Froch’s fights against Taylor, Dirrell and Kessler were instead shown on backwater PPV channel Primetime, meaning that British fight fans were forced to pay £14.95 for the pleasure of watching on a channel most had never heard of. This inevitably had a detrimental effect on viewing figures and is a reason that Froch is British boxing’s best kept secret.

“Carl Froch is a world-class fighter, yet no one knows
him outside his own living room and that can’t be right.” (Barry Hearn)

After becoming disillusioned with not getting the recognition his accomplishments in the ring merited, Froch decided to cut ties with Hennessy and become self-promoted. In an interview filmed with the BBC shortly after the split was announced, the super-middleweight champion said that he had effectively ‘been self promoted for ages to be honest’ and that he was hopeful of striking a deal with Sky, which he described as ‘the best platform for boxing.’  At the age of 34, Froch does not have a great deal of time left at boxing’s top table and this seems to have dawned on him. By his own admission, ‘not everybody knows who Carl Froch is.’ He obviously felt the need to go his own way in search of the credit he deserves and upon reflection, he appears to have realised that parting ways with Hennessy was necessary. When asked about parting ways with his promoter, Froch said that it ‘went wrong in a lot of areas,’ and that things are now in the hands of lawyers. It does however; seem that the fighter has been vindicated.

His most recent fight, against Glen Johnson, was shown live on Sky Sports and the broadcaster is also the favourite to screen his showdown with American superstar Andre Ward in October. After fighting the man widely regarded as the best super-middleweight in the world, Froch wants to have a big homecoming fight in Nottingham, possibly at his beloved Nottingham Forest’s City Ground. Froch therefore says he wants to speak to a big name promoter about the staging of such of an event and Matchroom Sport’s Barry Hearn has already expressed a keen interest on doing just that. As Hearn himself puts it: ‘Carl Froch is a world-class fighter, yet no one knows him outside his own living room and that can’t be right.’  Here’s hoping that changes before Froch hangs up his gloves.

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