When a man is versed in pounding the hard road, a little detour now and then doesn't hurt. Carl Froch has taken the path less travelled on his successful journey through the Super 6 series. So, having waited a little longer than originally planned to finally face Andre Ward in this weekend's decider, be sure that Froch is ready.
The Nottingham tough guy has endured and prospered through an arduous competition schedule over the last two-and-a-half years, the sort not seen since the old days. Legends like Sugar Ray Robinson used to campaign as Froch has done recently, so it reflects well on the Englishman that he has excelled at a time when such feats are rarely expected or delivered.
Since edging subsequent world champion Jean Pascal in a fight of the year to win his coveted WBC title in 2008, Froch (3.85 to beat Ward) has been to America stopping Bernard Hopkins conqueror Jermain Taylor, back to Blighty beating slippery Andre Dirrell before blazing through the volcanic ash cloud to come up just short in a thriller against the classy Mikkel Kessler. That remains the only defeat on Froch's record and a debated one at that, but 'The Cobra' has bounced right back mastering top-level operators Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson in the 12 months since.
In an era where money can affect the enthusiasm not to mention the preparations of young fighters, Froch remains a straightforward pleasure for punters; you just know that he will turn out in the best possible shape.
Froch keeps a diary logging every press-up, hill sprint and round sparred as he and long time trainer Rob McCracken push the boundaries of professionalism among athletes. Farl Froch won't be found wanting in that regard, it is simply a question of whether he is good enough to beat Ward or if he can impose his will upon the fight.
Andre Ward is a worthy favourite given his style and ability but in no way is he the right price at (1.39); those odds are an insult to Froch as well an over-reaction to where Ward is at right now.
Unbeaten in 24 fights and a former Olympic Gold medallist, there is no doubt that Ward is talented but he is not about to explode as the new superstar of the sport anytime soon. Indeed, wins over common foes Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham are conspicuous stand outs on Ward's record. My feeling is that win over Kessler is misleading with the Dane rusty off a break and more 'psyched' when he fought Froch but it is fair to say that Ward has the style to beat the Englishman.
The American has the definite edge in speed and, as is so often the case, that could be the deciding factor in this fight. Ward may not be the slickster you expect him to be, but he has quick hands off a good jab and ought to beat Froch to the punch. The Californian can lean in with his head, so he is potentially vulnerable to the type of uppercut which Froch throws well (the punch which sorted out Brian McGhee in 2006) and Ward will have to overcome a four-inch reach deficit but I think his speed and smarts will allow him to do so. Dirrell probably should have beaten Froch in 2009 but he wasn't man enough to take his chance; Ward though has the mental toughness as well as the discipline to affect the same sort of game plan to win.
Froch is the puncher of the two although since dining at the top table he has gone the distance in five of his last six fights and he stopped Taylor in the other with barely seconds remaining.
Ward meanwhile is light in that department compared to Froch and I would be astonished if he could halt the granite-chinned Englishman. Unless Froch can land a big one or heads clash and cuts become an issue this fight looks nailed on to go the distance (as evidenced by odds of 1.26 on this going the full 12 rounds), in fact I'd rather back that than take the short price about Ward.
I've always said that Froch will lose to a boxer who has speed and that is what he faces this weekend. The most likely outcome is that Ward stays cool, picks off Froch in bursts and runs out a clear winner by DEC/TD (1.57) but there just doesn't look much mileage in that price.
I think Ward will probably win but Froch has the reach and the ability to turn this into an uncomfortable night for the American. Next to that, Froch is simply the wrong price. This isn't Hatton taking on Mayweather, not by a million miles and Floyd was around 1.6 for that one, so Froch has to be backed at the prevailing odds.
Robert Frost would nod approvingly at the road Froch has taken to this point; let's hope it makes all the difference this weekend.
Back Carl Froch to win 1pt @ 3.85 (0-10pts system)
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