By Alex Dombroff
How’s Carl Froch feeling at the end of the day, and is he sad he is all alone in Canada preparing for the biggest fight of his career? No, Froch is getting by with a little help from his friend. That friend is Jean Pascal, a former foe, and the opponent Froch wrestled his version of the super middleweight championship from last year. It’s an interesting definition of friend used by Froch (24-0, 19 KOs), but as he readies for his fight this Saturday with former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, it’s a relationship that he finds invaluable. “A lot of people think that because you fight each other, you hate each other,” said Froch. “But it’s a sport. I took his best shots, and he took my best shots. I came out victorious because I did the better work on the night.”
Froch and Pascal make for an unusual allegiance. Not just because they fought, but how they fought.
Last December in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, England the two men took part in a hellacious war, ripping power punches at each other for twelve rounds, each taking turns staggering the other.
But during their time in the ring they gained a mutual respect – think Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed in Rocky III. It’s a respect that led Pascal to offer a hand to Froch and his trainer, Robert McCracken, and for the champion to jump at the opportunity.
“There is no animosity in the gym,” said Froch. “He is a friendly guy, very down to earth. The sparring is quite good.”
If the sparring is nearly as entertaining as their real fight, it would be well worth an admission fee to watch.
But Taylor(28-2-1, 17 KOs) doesn’t figure to pose to same type of slugging threat Pascal did. An Olympic bronze medalist, Taylor’s best successes have come from a solid boxing foundation, with an emphasis on his jab. It’s how he twice beat Bernard Hopkins in 2005, and fought to draw with Winky Wright a year later.
Froch, however, remains confident in Pascal’s ability to help him prepare.
“He’s not the perfect sparring partner for Taylor, but no one is,” said Froch. “The best sparring partner for Jermain Taylor would be Jermain Taylor. You just work on what you have to work on, putting shots together and trying to get hit as little as possible.”
And despite winning the title in a slugfest, Froch scoffs at the idea that Pascal is nothing if not a brawler with no boxing savvy.
“When we boxed, we had the world title on the line,” said Froch. “But Pascal has a very sharp jab. He has a lot of speed, and a high work rate. He throws punches in bunches.”
Having gone those grueling rounds with Pascal, officially and not, Froch believes Taylor can’t come at him with anything that will surprise him.
So, the nearly 2:1 underdog has a simple plan.
“I’d like to get Jermain Taylor out of there,” said Froch, who boasts a track record of having never been knocked down, in the professional or amateur ranks. “Jermain Taylor isn’t big enough or strong enough to give me any trouble.”
If Froch can knock out Taylor, or even beat him on points, he will immediately make himself known to the American television audience watching on Showtime, but oddly enough, his fans back home will have a tough time following along.
Even with Froch being the only current world champion from Great Britain, the Taylor fight will have no television coverage across the pond.
It’s a distraction the Nottingham native is doing his best to block out while focusing on the moment at hand.
“It’s a shame to British fans that can’t get out to America,” said Froch. “I don’t see it as disrespect; I see it as a disgrace. It’s a sign of the current times. They call it a recession, but at the end of the day there is money there. Sky TV could’ve made it a pay per view, but they decided not to do that. To not show the only British world champion fight in Britain, I think it’s disgraceful.”
By beating Taylor his star power will have never been higher back home and securing television rights back home for his future fights would become a formality.
But Froch is getting accustomed to fighting on the road, and letting others reap the benefits of his successes.
“I might stay over in America,” said Froch. “So the British TV companies will miss out.”