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UK’s Carl “The Cobra” Froch Not Satisfied Yet

David A. Avila

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UK’s Carl “The Cobra” Froch Not Satisfied Yet – Several years ago Carl “The Cobra” Froch stepped into the boxing ring at a small fight show in a Hollywood night club and performed rather tenuously against a middleweight from Central America.

Froch defeated the stubborn foe and afterwards was rather harsh on his own performance. Regardless of the opponent’s reputation for hardiness, Froch was visibly and vocally upset.

The boxing journalists present, including myself, were surprised at the British fighter’s self-disgust in his performance. That was nearly seven years ago and now we see why he bashed himself mercilessly.

He’s a much better prizefighter than many expect.

Based out of Nottingham, the steely blue eyed prizefighter whose arm is usually entangled with ravishing brunette girlfriend Racheal Cordingley, seemingly grabs more attention from his relationship with the model than his exploits in the ring. For nine years British journalists found little interest in his boxing capabilities until now.

Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) has reached the pinnacle of the Super Six Super Middleweight tournament and finds one last man standing in California’s Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (24-0, 13 KOs). WBC champ Froch meets WBC champ Ward on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The co-sponsor of the tourney Showtime is televising the finale.

“It’s been a long journey and I’m where I wanted to be in the tournament: in the final,” said Froch.

Reaching the ending point was a journey rife with obstacles that truly tested the British fighter’s capabilities.

First was former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor whose mix of speed and power resulted in Froch hitting the canvas in round three. He could have slipped into survival mode and cruised to a decision loss. Instead he ramped up the punch output like a conveyor belt boosted to twice the normal speed and stopped Taylor in the final round. That was the warning signal to the boxing world he was indeed a threat.

Next on the Froch hit list was the long armed hit and leave practitioner Andre Dirrell of Michigan. If Taylor was deemed fast then Dirrell’s blows were going to be practically invisible. At first it seemed the 6’2” southpaw nicknamed “the Matrix” was going to slap Froch silly. But cleverly the British prizefighter began to change the match from an arms-length tactical tit-for-tat fight to an in-close chin to chin, street brawling affair where pub and barroom fighters were probably toasting gleefully at home with beer mugs dripping from hoisted cheers. Froch won by split decision.

Perhaps Froch’s darkest day came when he crossed the North Sea to meet Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler on April 24, 2010. Once again he faced a former world champion but this time Froch was unable to circumvent Kessler’s hometown advantages and lost by unanimous decision after 12 rounds. It was his first and only loss and his WBC title was also taken away.

Another cold journey across the North Sea was more rewarding when he met Germany’s human Howitzer Arthur Abraham in Helsinki, Finland on Nov. 27, 2010. Because Kessler opted out of the tournament and deigned not to fight the imposing knockout punching Abraham, the WBC title was declared vacant and available to the winner. Froch surprised many by utilizing both his boxing skills and sturdy chin to win a near flawless victory over the former champion Abraham. He also regained the WBC title he coveted and reached the semi-finals of the Super Six.

Because Kessler suffered an eye injury, Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson replaced the Danish fighter. Those not privy to Johnson’s abilities would soon discover why the ageing former light heavyweight champion was not an easy pass. On June 4, in Atlantic City, Froch and Johnson engaged in 12 combustible rounds that eventually saw the British prizefighter pull away in the final rounds. “If you can imagine sparring an oak tree? You hit him and he doesn’t move,” said Froch respectfully of Johnson’s durability.

Andre Ward

On the other corner will be Oakland, California’s Ward with his blend of speed, power and determination. So far no one has been able to crack the Ward code that gave Kessler his first loss and enabled him to breeze through the feared Abraham last May in the Home Depot Center. Each opponent was met with few words and more action than expected. Key to his success has been an ability to adapt.

“If you watch my fights I do a little of everything. I have the wherewithall to make adjustments. To do whatever is necessary to get the victory,” said Ward during a telephone conference call.

Ward has proven to be more than just the fleet-footed 2004 Olympic gold medalist who skipped around the ring and occasionally slapped opponents silly with blistering speed.

“Before Andre emerged to the boxer that he is, he was a fighter,” said Virgil Hunter who trains Ward. “Over a period of time that he won a gold medal he adapted to the point system. Through the years the fighting (aggressive style) never left him and I think that’s what surprises people.”

Injury postponement

After Ward suffered a cut during training that forced a postponement in October, Froch continued training and looks forward to solving yet another American speedster. Taylor and Dirrell discovered that Froch knows the American style.

“Styles make fights, it’s an old cliché. I expect Andre Ward to come and box and use his jab. He may come inside and get rounds in there, it’s hard to predict,” said Froch who expects several hundred fellow countrymen to join him in Atlantic City. “I come to fight. I’m going to do everything I need to do to win these two belts.”

Froch has been unable to captivate the number of rabid fans of his British predecessors Ricky Hatton or Joe Calzaghe. A win over Ward could do the trick. But the change in dates has enabled his followers to take advantage of the later fight date.

“It (the date change) actually went to my favor. I had two weeks break when I heard about Ward’s cut. I’ve been cranking it up pretty good,” says Froch. “The main problem it caused was just my fans had bought tickets. But it seems to have worked in my favor too. There’s great response. More and more people seem to be coming.”

In many ways Froch is like the super middleweight division. Despite skills and a chest full of grit, the British prizefighter had been long ignored. That can all change on Saturday.

“The prize is there waiting for me,” Froch said.

Indeed.

Fights on television

Fri. Telefutura, 11:30 p.m., Alan Sanchez (8-2-1) vs. Keandre Gibson (5-0-1).

Sat. Showtime, 9 p.m., Andre Ward (24-0) vs. Carl Froch (28-1).

Sat. Showtime, 10:30 p.m., Gilbert Melendez (19-2) vs. Jorge Masvidal (22-6).

UK’s Carl “The Cobra” Froch Not Satisfied Yet / Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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Buatsi Flattens Dos Santos in Manchester; Charr KOs Fraudulent Lovejoy in Cologne

Arne K. Lang

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In a Knockout of the Year candidate, rising light heavyweight contender Joshua Buatsi (14-0, 12 KOs) leveled Daniel Blenda Dos Santos, an unheralded Frenchman, in the fourth round, closing the show with a pulverizing right hand – and for good measure, touching him with another right as he fell. A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist for England, the Ghana-born Buatsi trained for two months in the California Bay Area under his new trainer Virgil Hunter and his American sojourn paid dividends.

Dos Santos, who found his way to boxing after serving three-and-a-half years in prison, was undefeated (15-0, 8 KOs) coming in, but hadn’t fought beyond six rounds. He was knocked down earlier in the fight with a chopping right hand. There were less than 20 seconds remaining in the fourth when Buatsi put Dos Santos to sleep, and to his credit he did not celebrate but consoled his distraught victim.

Other Bouts

In a shocker, 31-year-old southpaw Jason Cunningham improved to 29-6 (6) with a unanimous decision over Gamal Yafai (18-2) who was making the first defense of the European bantamweight title that he won in Milan.

Cunningham had Yafai on the canvas three times — knocking him down with left hands in the second, fourth and sixth rounds — but Yafai, the younger brother of former 115-pound world title-holder Kal Yafai — wasn’t deterred and kept coming forward. In the end, however, Cunningham’s lead was too big for Yafai to overcome. The judges had it 115-110 and 114-111 x2 for the southpaw who was a consensus 10/1 underdog.

Super middleweight Lerrone Richards breezed to a lopsided 12-round decision over Italian veteran Giovanni DeCarolis to snatch a vacant European title. Trained by Dave Coldwell, who previously handled Tony Bellew, Richards was content to rack up points and the one-dimensional DeCarolis, who was making his first start in 23 months, had no way to stop him.

The judges had it 120-108 and 119-109 twice. The London-born Richards, whose family roots are in Ghana, improved to 15-0 (3). This may have been the last rodeo for the 36-year-old DeCarolis who fell to 28-10-1.

Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy (18-2, 9 KOs) was fed a softie for his first defense of his European cruiserweight title in the form of 36-year-old Romanian Alexandru Jur who brought a 19-4 record but had defeated only four men with winning records. Except for a few brief moments, Jur showed little inclination to mix it up. McCarthy put Jur down with a body punch in round four and finished him off two rounds later with another body punch. The official time was 2:09.

McCarthy, who is of Irish and Jamaican descent, moves on to a date with fellow Brit Chris Billam-Smith. Jur lost for the fourth time in his last six starts.

Cologne

Credit Christopher Lovejoy for having the gumption to defy Don King who threatened legal action if Lovejoy went ahead with his match today with WBA “champion in recess” Mahmoud (Manuel) Charr. But the 37-year-old Lovejoy, who arrived in Germany all by himself, traveled a long way to destroy whatever credibility he may have had. Fighting off the grid, he had rung up 19 fast knockouts in 19 fights against 19 presumptive Tijuana taxi drivers.

Carrying 306 ½-pounds, the six-foot-five Lovejoy lasted less than two full rounds against Charr who was making his first ring appearance in 42 months. Lovejoy was counted out after being dropped with a volley of punches in the second round.

Photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 135: Danny Roman and Super Bantamweights Perform in L.A.

The super bantamweight division was virtually unknown by most fans of prizefighting for the last decade.

Then Danny Roman arrived and re-booted the 122-pound division virtually by himself by challenging and defeating world champions from Japan and the United Kingdom.

Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) no longer holds the world titles but itches to regain his footing when he fights Ricardo Espinoza (25-3, 21 KOs) at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday May 15. Showtime will televise the battle on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

“Everything I do in boxing from here on out is to regain my status as a world champion,” said the normally ultra-reserved Roman, 31.

Ironically, both Roman and Espinoza turned their careers around with numerous battles at boxing shows in Ontario, California. They entered as boys and emerged as battle-tested men.

For the last 20 years Thompson Boxing Promotions has been pumping out world champions and contenders at a furious rate despite their small size in Southern California. They do not pamper or cajole their prospects.

Both Roman and Espinoza suffered their first losses as professionals at Thompson Boxing’s bloody battles at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. But despite losing, they continued to learn and evolve. Now they meet in Los Angeles on the big stage.

When Roman lost to Japan’s Takashi Okada in 2011 and Juan Reyes in 2013, that could have derailed the Los Angeles-based fighter for good. Instead, he re-grouped and reloaded to become a unified world champion. Roman traveled to Japan and won the WBA super bantamweight world title by stoppage of Shun Kubo in 2017. A couple of years later after several defenses, he clashed with WBO super bantamweight titlist TJ Doheny to win an incredible battle by decision in Los Angeles. It was perhaps the Fight of the Year in 2019 and gained Roman the WBO belt.

Though Roman lost both the WBA and WBO titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev, it was a disputed split decision. Many felt Roman was the true winner. So now he must battle back toward the top.

Espinoza also fought many bloody affairs at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario including his first two losses. He lost to Sam Rodriguez in 2016 and Christian Nieto in 2017. Then the power-punching fighter from Tijuana, Mexico knocked out 12 of 13 of his opponents to gain a world title fight that he lost in April 2019. Since then, he has returned to his winning ways and upset undefeated Brandon Valdes last year.

“Danny Roman has fought some really quality opponents that are high in the rankings, but this is my time. This is when I show that I can step up in competition and prove that I belong with the best,” said Espinoza who is very familiar with Roman.

The Tijuana fighter is a punching machine.

“This is not going to be an easy fight because I know my opponent is a tough fighter from Tijuana who is coming with everything he’s got. He’s got a lot of power, so I must be smart on how I throw my combinations,” said Roman who lives within 10 miles of the event. “I believe my experience in big fights is going to be the difference on May 15. I’m expecting a rough fight and I’m ready for an intense battle.”

Now the two veterans of the Ontario, California wars finally meet each other to see who advances toward a world title fight. They won’t have to look far. The main event pits two titleholders against each other.

Unification Battle for Super Bantam Belts

Mexico’s Luis Nery holds the WBC super bantamweight world title and faces Texan Brandon Figueroa who holds a version of the WBA super bantamweight title in the main event on the Dignity Health Sports Park card on Saturday. Showtime will televise.

Nery formerly held the bantamweight title too. But the Tijuana-based fighter had problems making weight and wisely moved up a weight division. So far, the extra pounds hasn’t been a problem.

The problem facing Nery is Figueroa has a solid chin.

Figueroa may look like a pretty boy but he fights like he’s ugly. The Weslaco, Texas native has firepower and a rock chin but does he have the skills to match Nery?

“I come forward. I bring the pressure and I’m definitely going to bring the power, the size and all the advantages I have to make sure that we give the fans a great show. I do respect him as a fighter but we’re just going to have to find out Saturday,” said Figueroa whose brother Omar Figueroa fought in the same venue two weeks ago.

Nery has quickness and agility to supplement his power. He also has experience in world class opposition and that’s something Figueroa lacks.

“Brandon’s style really fits with what I want to do in the ring,” said Nery, a boxer-slugger. “This is going to be an all-out war from the first round on. People are going to be talking about it for a long time after.”

The winner of this clash will hopefully meet the winner of Roman and Espinoza. That would really heat up the super bantamweight division to blue hot levels.

Some of my favorite fighters of the past occupied the super bantamweight division like Wilfredo “Bazooka” Gomez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Israel “Magnifico” Vazquez who twice fought in this same venue. His third fight with Rafael Marquez on March 1, 2008 was voted Fight of the Year for its brutal but spectacular display of super bantamweight power.

The winners of this quasi-super bantamweight tournament can equally achieve the same kind of greatness those former stars achieved. This is a good start.

Fights to Watch (All times are Pacific Coast)

Friday UFC Fight Pass 5:30 p.m. Heather Hardy (22-1) vs Jessica Camara (7-2); Melissa St. Vil (13-4-4) vs Olivia Gerula (18-18-4).

Friday Telemundo 11:30 p.m. Denilson Valtierra (14-0) vs Emanuel Lopez (30-12-1).

Sat. DAZN 10 a.m. Lerrone Richards (14-0) vs Giovanni De Carolis (28-9-1).

Sat. Showtime 7 p.m. Luis Nery (31-0) vs Brandon Figueroa (21-0-1); Danny Roman (28-3-1) vs Ricardo Espinoza (25-3).

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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Charr vs Lovejoy: Better Late Than Never, or Not

Phil Woolever

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COLOGNE – There are many questions to be answered regarding Mahmoud Charr’s scheduled fight against Christopher Lovejoy this Saturday night at a training facility along the Rhine. The most primary point to be determined is whether the contest actually occurs.

Charr has been idle since capturing a WBA title belt against Aleksandr Ustinov way back in November 2017. Since then numerous delays and cancellations, many of them out of Charr’s control, have kept the erstwhile ranked heavyweight out of the championship picture and far from the international public eye.

The most recent of such situations found Charr unable to obtain a travel visa for a defense against Trevor Bryan in Florida last January. Machinations by Don King and the WBA in relegating Charr to “in recess” status further tarnished both the promoter and the organization’s already disgraceful reputations.

King has also had a hand in keeping Lovejoy off the rumbling radar, after the boxer previously claimed retirement as a way out of King’s contractual clutches. When Lovejoy attempted to face Dave Allen in London on the undercard of Usyk-Chisora, King contacted Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn with enough of a claim that Lovejoy’s appearance was cancelled.

According to Lovejoy, King has also attempted to block Saturday’s fight, so uncertainty remains until the first bell rings this weekend. That said, everything else about the relatively low key card seems to be well in place, and there is plenty to look forward to, questions and all. A subscriber-based live stream on German news outlet Bild.de will broadcast the bout.

How the long layoff, which began way before the coronavirus pandemic, has affected Charr is probably the most crucial factor, but what the rarely seen Lovejoy brings to the table is as compelling as it is curiously noteworthy. His record of 19-0 with 19 quick knockouts, compiled completely off-grid in frequent madhouse Tijuana could mean damn near anything.

Charr, 31-4 (17), has been stopped three times and in two of those KOs (by Maris Briedis and Alexander Povetkin) he was blasted into one-shot oblivion. Under Saturday’s scenario one of the few possible surprises might be if Lovejoy doesn’t try to get Charr out of there immediately.

Lovejoy, listed at 6’4”, looks substantially larger than 6’3” Charr, but not any taller. An uneducated guess indicates a strong possibility that the more proven Charr is capable of wearing Lovejoy down, especially considering how he did it against a respectable version of Ustinov.

When Lovejoy refused to shake Charr’s hand and insulted his courage during their press conference photo op, there was a slight but very significant twitch in Charr’s almost constantly upbeat countenance. If Lovejoy doesn’t indeed carry huge power in his punches, he may have inspired a painful night.

To put Charr’s simmering anger in perspective, it must be remembered that he still looked like he was calmly waiting for his food while being carried out on a stretcher after getting shot four times in the lower abdomen during a 2015 ambush in nearby Essen. When his assailant, a former boxing protégé, confessed by saying he only meant to shoot him in the leg, Charr told an emotion packed courtroom bygones were bygones, saying “I am a man who forgives.”

A refugee at five years old whose father was killed in the Lebanese civil war, Charr seems to clearly envision a bigger picture than just his boxing career, and he consistently posts positive motivational copy on social media, including an end of Ramadan message stressing nonpartisan hope for the current Gaza conflict.

The 10-round fight carries no title designation but whatever they may or may not step into the ring with, one thing Charr and Lovejoy share is the potential for a make-or-break performance.

If Charr wins, people will dismiss Lovejoy’s merit in the first place but it still keeps a bit of shine on his championship claims, increasing his leverage regarding Bryan or even bigger game. If Lovejoy wins, especially by dramatic KO, he has definitely upped his recognition factor marketability.

The only safe bet is that the winner will probably hear from somebody representing Don King.

And maybe even Fres Oquendo.

Questions, questions.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

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