"Don't lean forward. Don't lean forward."
"If you stay there, he punches down the middle."
"Back on that jab. Back him up with it."
Carl Froch received instruction from trainer Robert McCracken on Monday afternoon at the Trinity Boxing Club in downtown NYC, all of it geared to the tactics and strategy he'll use against Andre Ward on Dec. 17 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The bout is the finale of the Super Six super middleweight tournament, and will run on Showtime, which put together the ambitious extravaganza in the fall of 2009.
"Got to be really short inside."
"Don't get big and tall."
It's interesting to me when I see and hear trainers giving pointers to name guys like Froch, age 34, the two time and current WBC 168 pound champ. I mistakenly assume that someone 28-1 with 20 KOs, with wins over Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson isn't in the market for pointers and likely doesn't need them. But Froch is receptive to McCracken's tutelage, as well he should be, quite likely. Ward could easily be the best in breed of foes he's faced. The 24-0 (13 KOs) Oakland-born hitter, age 27, doesn't dazzle you with showmanship or awesome power or Astaire feet, but he just plain wins. His WBA 168-pound crown will be up for grabs in AC.
Froch, who came in to town late Saturday night, told me he's putting an end to that. Before that, he set the record straight about a recent Daily Mail (UK) story, which revealed he and galpal Rachael Cordingley and son Rocco, 18 months, will up and move from Nottingham to America. No, he said, lines got crossed. They will stay in the UK.
"Ward is a good fighter, a good amateur and a decent pro," he said. "Reason I say he's a decent pro is, I turn his fights off. He's never involved in good fights. He's good at winning, but there's no sort of buzz about him. He poses a serious threat, but it's not like he's Roy Jones, or Sugar Ray Leonard, or Mike Tyson, or Carl Froch."
Froch took a poke at Ward's humility, which he questions, as Ward's nickname is "Son of God" but he is by no means assuming that Ward is purely a puffed up puncher who is unbeaten purely by accident. "He's not a dominant force. Is he the best I've ever fought, technically, skillwise, potentially. But a fight is about strength, courage, character, heart, punching power, experience, you put Ward on the top of all that?"
Froch scoffs at the prediction made by Ward's trainer, Virgil Hunter, that Ward will KO Froch. He said he finds Hunter "laughable" and "comical," all due respect offered.
The Brit boxer said he hasn't really tried to play any mind games, apart from telling Ward during the taping of a Showtime promo show that he would knock him out. "He looked like he thought about it, and was concerned," Froch said. "I hit very, very hard. When he gets hit by me, nobody will have hit him as hard, simple as that."
If his power doesn't result in a KO, Froch said, he hopes that the judges will give him a fair shake. But he is thinking that he might go after Ward early, look to take him out, to remove that part of the equation.
Froch will be at MSG on Saturday, and is thinking Cotto will prevail over Margarito in their rematch. "I think it will be a close, brutal fight, and Cotto maybe takes it on points," he said. "I will feel the nerves on the ring entrance, you put yourself in there."