Commentary

Froch: 'I'm not scared of taking a hit'

Originally Published: December 14, 2011
By Igor Guryashkin | ESPN.com

Carl Froch will be able to legitimately call himself the world's No. 1 super middleweight should he emerge victorious Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., in the heady conclusion of Showtime's Super Six super middleweight tournament (9 p.m. ET/PT).

Having previously dispatched Andre Dirrell, Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson in Super Six battles, Froch, 34, will face fellow world champion and favored Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) in the final. Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) recently set aside a few minutes to catch up with ESPN.com and warn anyone considering him an underdog to do so at their own peril.

How is New York?

Yeah, New York's good. I've been here before, so I'm used to it. I've been here since ... last Saturday? I've been training in Trinity Gym; Miguel Cotto was there.

What problems have you been training for? What problems do you think Andre Ward is going to pose?
Nothing that I've not met in the past, to be honest. He likes to try to get rough up close, but I can fight rough up close, too. He likes to use his head a little bit, which can be a bit of a problem, but that's the referee's job to make sure that gets sorted out straight away.

Why then do you think people give so much support to Ward in this matchup? What do you think others see that you don't find a problem?
The only people that I've heard, really, [are] critics that I don't really pay attention to, to be honest. But you have to remember, though, that I'm fighting an American in America. As the fight has got closer, the critics have started to change their mind. A lot of people have started backing me. But I don't really know what the critics and boxing writers really look for in boxing, because a lot of them have Lucian Bute ranked as No. 1 in front of me and Ward, and it does not make any sense because the only names on his record are Brian McGee, Glen Johnson and Librado Andrade, and where are they?

What did you think of the Glen Johnson fight?
It wasn't much of a fight, to be honest. It was a bit of a sparring session, really. Johnson was happy to just keep walking forward, and I think Bute got off lightly.

People call Ward more of a boxer, while you've admitted in the past that you've traded a bit more than you've had to, or should have done. Will this be a tactic that you try to avoid?
It depends on the type of fight that Ward brings, really. If he comes in with power, like in his fight with Allan Green or with other opponents, then if he's in range standing there, then I'll punch him and trade with him. I'll be happy to oblige. But I'll be trying to use my boxing skills and use some range early on, for sure. I think with the reach advantage I have over him, it's key.

You've mentioned in the past that you have no problems taking a punch off Ward, right?
No, not at all. I'm not scared of taking a hit from Ward, I've been hit by much bigger punchers. Robin Reid, [Jean] Pascal -- he's a big puncher. I've been in with big punchers, and Ward claims he has a punch, but he does not have a KO ratio to back that up. He's not got a high KO percentage, that's all I'm saying. It's a fact. Also, I've got a granite chin, so I'm not someone who has to worry. I'm not chinny or someone who is going to get knocked out. The best chins are the ones that don't get hit. That's what Ward is going to try to do; he'll try move and stay outside range, but I am going to be in there.

Will Ward's eye be something that you target?
A cut is a cut. I'm not going to sit here and say that I am going to hit him in his right eyebrow. I'm going to be trying to hit him in the face. But am I going to be aiming for his right eye? Probably not. If I hit it and if it opens up, then great, but I'm not specifically going to target that eye. If the opportunity presents itself, then I'm going to hit him in the eye, of course, whether he has had a cut or not.

How do you explain the Mikkel Kessler fight, why you had trouble and Ward didn't?
It's something that I wouldn't mind setting the record straight on. Mikkel had had one fight in about 13 months against a journeyman, so he was very ring rusty when he fought Ward. He was out of his comfort zone, too [in Ward's Oakland, Calif., hometown]. Had that fight taken place in Denmark, I'm sure you would have seen a different Kessler. If Kessler had just been a little busier ... he'd just got out of some promotional problem. He probably took Ward a bit lightly and it was in Ward's backyard. I'm not trying to take anything away from Ward; he did a fantastic job with Kessler, he [did] what he had to do to win -- other than the cuts and head-butts, which were a bit naughty. Head-butts go in once and again, and if they don't get picked up by the referee, then tough luck. Ward got away with it. Had that fight taken place in Denmark, I'm sure Ward would have been penalized. But it was in America.

For someone of your ability, you've mentioned in the past that you've not received the credit you deserve. Do you think a victory in the final will earn you that credit?
Well, I'm now getting the credit that I feel I deserve, and it's great. It feels great. I feel honored now that the British public are behind me and the national papers are behind me. I've turned it around, I really have. Remember, though, back in the day, the praise wasn't there -- not just for me, but for boxing in general. Boxing didn't have much of an accolade. Soccer dominates in England and boxing is down the pecking order.

Does it motivate you?
No, I couldn't care less, to be honest. But boxing needs a push and it needs television. I just back up my sport. This could be the fight that crosses me over. It could be a crossover fight.

Where do you see yourself going after this fight? Perhaps a move to light heavyweight?
I could go to light heavy, but I'm not really a light heavyweight fighter. Light heavyweights are usually a bit taller than me and naturally bigger. Maybe in a year or two I could step up to that division, but it's not something that's on my immediate radar.

Igor Guryashkin is a researcher for ESPN The Magazine and a boxing contributor for ESPN.com.