Report by Scott Ploof
Photo By Emily Harney
Fresh off of the biggest victory of his career, undefeated WBC super middleweight champion Carl Froch (25-0, 20 KOs) and former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor (28-3-1, 17 KOs) along with their trainers and promoters took part in a post fight press conference inside of the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, CT. Froch shocked not only Taylor but the entire 168 pound division when he stopped the former middleweight kingpin with just fourteen seconds left in the twelfth and final round. While Taylor and his team would love a rematch, it seems that Carl Froch and his promoter, Mick Hennessy have other plans. The press conference began with Team Taylor in attendance along with Taylor’s promoter Lou DiBella at the microphone leading off the conversation concerning the main event and its outcome. “What we saw tonight was one hell of a fight. Jermain looked solid early and almost had Froch out in the third. Froch displayed a solid chin throughout as Jermain was able to land some hard shots for about the first eight or so rounds of the fight. I think Carl came on late and made it a closer fight down the stretch and then he knocked him out.”
The conversation then turned to the fact that during the bout, it was possible for both fighters to see how the fight was being scored on television. “Look when you win by knockout it doesn’t matter. The issue is that when they put the scores up there on the screen. Then you have the fighters looking at the screens and thinking that maybe this is what the judges are thinking. I think that maybe Jermain would have fought a little bit differently if there wasn’t that sense of urgency created as well. But that is neither here nor there because I am not going to sit here and make excuses.”
Inside of the MGM Grand Arena, there are two huge video screens on either side of the ring which broadcast the television feed. These huge screens are probably not visible to the television audience but only to those inside the arena.
A member of the media then asked Taylor if he realized that he came within fourteen seconds of winning the fight. Taylor responded to the question by saying, “Yeah, I mean I know I went down, and I knew I just had to survive the last two rounds. However at the same time I felt like I was bobbing and weaving but then I started fighting with him. I knew he was a strong kid and I didn’t want to fight with him, I wanted to box and move.
Lou DiBella then interjected by saying, “He went into survival mode. It was a mistake. It was a technical mistake. It sounds bizarre but if he took a knee and recovered a moment to finish out the final round, then he would have won the fight. But again he fought a hard fight and he deserves a tremendous amount of respect.”
After the room in attendance erupted in applause in support of Taylor, DiBella continued by saying, “I have to tell you this and I have to give credit where it is due. For all of his unorthodox style, for all of his amateurishness, and I am a boxing purist, Carl Froch is a beast. He is strong as an ox. He keeps coming. He took a shellacking and showed a tremendous chin. There is no accident that this guy has only gone down once in his career and it was tonight. He has an amazing chin.”
A member of the media then began to ask Jermain how he was feeling knowing that he was fourteen seconds away from victory and Lou DiBella immediately interrupted his question in an attempt to keep the conversation positive in regards to his fighter by saying, “How the f**k do you think we feel? We were fourteen seconds away from victory and you got knocked out. Believe me we all feel like s**t. Excuse my language but you all know me.”
Taylor was asked what his thoughts were during the third round when he had him in trouble and if he felt like he was about to put Froch away. “Froch is a warrior. I went at him and traded punches with him. I know he can take a punch and come back from it and he did.
He was then asked that after starting his career going (25-0) and then being (3-3-1) over his last seven fights, what does he feel is the difference. Taylor responded by saying, “I don’t know really but I just think it is the caliber of the opponents.”
DiBella who is quick to turn the press conference back from a negative point to a positive one then stated to the media, “I will tell you one thing that if we had more fights like this in boxing, that the sport would be a hell of a lot better. This was a great fight and if you weren’t entertained by that, then I don’t know what to say because it doesn’t get any better than the fight we seen tonight. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Foxwoods Resort and Casino for there terrific hospitality and thank you to Showtime.”
The media then asked Taylor’s trainer, Ozell Nelson, what he said to his fighter before the beginning of the eleventh round. Nelson said, “I told him that we need these last two rounds. We cannot give the last two rounds up. I take the blame on the way he came out in those rounds. I wanted him to keep boxing and keep turning. It came down to the last two rounds and we came up short.”
He was then asked a follow-up question in reference to what Lou DiBella said earlier concerning the video screens and if he had seen how the announcers had scored the fight up to that point and if it made a difference in what he instructed Taylor to do. “I did not see the scores in between rounds but in the last round I thought we needed to throw more punches so I told him to pick it up. We have been training this way in training camp, the last two rounds we always train to pick it up in the last two rounds, and I was trying to call on him to not give up during those last two rounds. If I had known what the scores were on the monitor then I would have instructed him to just run around the ring.”
Lou DiBella then added to what Nelson was saying, “It is not any sour grapes. It did not cause the outcome but I do believe that can happen. Not only are the judges seeing them but the fighters are seeing them and the people in the front row are seeing them. Maybe the people in the front row are screaming at the fighters that they need to do something because they are down a couple of rounds. The press row scores are up there. In the future, when we do anything like that, there should be a clean view of the screen. Don’t take this as a reason, because this is not an excuse. I am just saying for future reference that this should be done.”
Taylor was then asked when going into the final round if he found himself struggling to the finish. He responded by simply saying yes. The same question was asked to Ozell Nelson if he thought his fighter was struggling in the final round. He said in response, “I thought that the fight was close and I think that if we did things differently in the last round, we would have won.”
When asked what was next for Taylor, DiBella was quick to answer when he said, “We are going to take him wherever we can go. A rematch 100 percent and obviously I don’t think Jermain wants it in his next fight and I am sure Carl doesn’t want it in his next fight. Look Lucian Bute, one of the really great world champions in the division was sitting ringside and he could not believe what went down. I know he was impressed by what Carl brought in the last round but he was sitting there really impressed by the performance Jermain was putting out there because he never slowed down. There is not a guy out there at 168 pounds that scared us before this fight and there isn’t one out there that scares us now. It doesn’t mean that we win every fight but this is a world class fighter and whatever you think of his style, tonight Carl Froch proved that he is a world class fighter.”
“The fight was such a compelling fight. Carl is a classy guy as he walked right up to me after the fight and said man I thought I blew one tonight but then I pulled it out. He knew who he was in there with and I think it was a humbling experience for him but by the way it also was the kind of experience that makes him feel like he belongs in there with everybody else so you have to give the guy respect because he won,” said DiBella.
He continued by saying, “I look forward to a rematch though already. I got a call after the fight from Ken Hershman over at Showtime and basically said I will buy that rematch anytime you guys would want to make it so I don’t think there is a TV executive out there that doesn’t want to see this fight again. Again I have to say that we have to get to the point where we need to sleep, relax, and get over this. At the same time Jermain Taylor needs to be active and fight. I think we saw a very good Jermain Taylor against Jeff Lacy and I think for ten rounds tonight I think we saw a superb Jermain Taylor. Being active as a 30 year old fighter he is not an old fighter. He cannot disappear for eight months and then return so I think right now we will take a little bit of a break and then get back in there and fight.”
When asked by a member of the press what were the chances of Allan Green getting a shot at Froch, DiBella said, “Allan was salivating after the fight saying to give him a shot at Carl Froch. We have a great division at 168. This division right now is legitimately ten people, almost like a top ten. When you sit there and try to do a top ten at 168 and what Green showed tonight is that he is in that top echelon and deserves a shot at Carl Froch. There is a round robin of fights that could be made. You have competitive fights all over the place.”
Jermain Taylor was then asked how he rates Carl Froch. “I rate Carl right up there with the best fighters in the world. He is a great fighter. He is number one. I would like to come back and fight him again. Carl fought like a warrior.
DiBella then added, “For twelve rounds, Froch just kept coming forward and you never got the feeling that he was out of the fight. But I honestly thought that he needed a knockout to win the fight and he got the knockout.”
Jermain was asked if Froch was better than he thought he would be. Taylor responded by saying, “No actually in the last round he showed great heart. Everything else though I thought he was slow. I felt that I out-boxed him.” DiBella added, “Froch is a very hard guy to beat.”
Ozell Nelson was then asked to comment on what Lou had just said about Froch being a hard guy to beat. “Because his style, he is slow and awkward. However he is heavy handed and strong in addition to having a big heart. I guess he might have been saving it for the last two rounds because he came on strong. The first six rounds went great, then later in the fight I thought we needed to pick it back up. I thought that if we would have survived that last round, then we would have the belt right now.”
At this point in the press conference Lou DiBella graciously introduced the WBC super middleweight champion Carl Froch as he entered the post fight press conference area to the applause of those in attendance. “Tonight Carl Froch proved that he is a great champion.” As Froch approached the podium he shook hands with Jermain Taylor as a sign of true professionalism and sportsmanship before taking his seat on stage.
Lou DiBella then introduced the co-promoter of the evening and promoter of Froch, Mick Hennessy and invited him to speak. At this point Team Taylor then left the post fight conference as Team Froch settled in to address the media.
Mick Hennessy then started by saying, “I just wanted to say that this is the sort of thing that dreams are made of. What an incredible fight tonight and what a warrior Jermain Taylor is. This was the best performance I have ever seen from Jermain Taylor tonight. I seen him defeat Bernard Hopkins twice, and it took a superb fighter to defeat him tonight and that superb fighter is Carl Froch. That is why I said this is what dreams are made of because it is just like a Rocky movie, to win the most recognizable belt in the world in your own country and to put it all on the line in another country here in the US against a marquee star like Jermain Taylor, a brilliant fighter like Jermain Taylor, it is unheard of. This is why he is a superstar and he really is something special. I believed it when he turned pro and I believe it now. What a way to launch yourself on the US market.”
Lou DiBella echoed Hennessy’s statement and added before leaving the press conference, “The idea that British TV, after what they saw when Froch fought Jean Pascal for the vacant title, didn’t show this fight live is an abomination. Average fighters don’t come back from being down clearly and knock a guy out with fourteen seconds left in a fight. Exceptional fighters do that. As a guy who lived in TV for over ten years, it is ridiculous that this fight was not broadcast over there live. What a TV fighter, get on board and support your hometown hero.”
A member of the media asked Hennessy to expand upon that statement. “World TV companies should take notice as well. I thought this was a smart move to take this fight and I sat down with Carl and Rob and I really believe he can beat all of the top Americans. I thought it was a springboard to the big time. One thing I said to Carl and he is an old fashioned fighter, I said to Carl whatever happens if you got robbed or something like that, but because you are aggressive and fight your style of fight, that you will be a great TV fighter. Whatever happens here in the US, either way they are going to love you, and I still believe that.”
Carl Froch was asked if he realized that he was losing the fight badly enough that the only way he could have won the fight was to knockout Taylor. As the member of the media continued to interrupt Froch by saying that he would have needed a 10-6 round to even come close. He responded by saying, “All I need to say is that I knocked him out and I am still the champ. I was actually ahead on one of the judges scorecards by four rounds so one of them saw me moving and jabbing and boxing. I am guilty of starting a little too slow and being a little too wide. I put my chin out there and put it back I am guilty of that, a little bit nervous, a little bit apprehensive, but it was a big occasion for me. I was nervous but it was my 25th professional fight and coming in to fight Jermain Taylor the former undisputed middleweight champion of the world who beat Bernard Hopkins twice. I have a picture of Bernard Hopkins on my wall. He is a legend in his own right. I really started doing what I can do in round ten, into round eleven, and into round twelve, I just put it all on the line. I did what I had to but I did it very, very late, but I still knocked him out and I am still the champion.”
When asked how he came back and fought through after getting knocked down in the third round, Froch said, “Just determination and sheer grit and I take the professional advice of my corner, and that is the reason I am a professional is because of Rob McCracken and without my corner I would not be here and that is the truth. The shot that he hit me with I wasn’t hurt and my legs weren’t under me but I stood up as it only took me off balance, it wasn’t a point of the punch hurting me. I have a lot of speed and I am as tough as they come. I am guilty of starting slow and I really apologized to Rob for that. I felt after round six that I could still hopefully turn the fight around and by round ten, I was able to land my punches and box him. I thank Rob for making me the champion that I am today.”
“It was a difficult fight. I was trying to land my jab. He is very clever, he was counter punching me but slowly but surely I began to break him down. I kept my spirits high. I listened to my trainer and kept believing in myself and then I noticed he was getting tired. I landed a right to the side of the head. My shots were connecting. They are very solid. I broke his spirit, I broke his will, and I nearly broke his jaw in the last round,” said Froch.
When asked what kind of power he felt Jermain Taylor brought to the table, Froch replied by saying, “I think he brought the power of a middleweight. He was punching hard and I have been in the ring with middleweights. He hits just as hard as most of them. Jermain really didn’t surprise me because I could see what he is doing. I could feel the shots landing and I could see everything, but I just wasn’t quite myself and I am guilty of that. Whether it is in America or whether it is defending the world title, everyone was making such a big deal out of it, why are you fighting Jermain Taylor and why go to America? I beat him. It was a battle of wills. It is a matter of the strongest man wins. The warrior within comes out. It is what makes a champion a champion. I felt my belt slipping away from me. I kept on believing in myself I listened to my trainer and did what I had to do to turn it around. I knocked him out and no one can argue with that kind of performance.”
Mick Hennessy was asked who he would like Froch to fight next. “Bute is a fight I definitely would like to take, potentially a Pavlik fight, but the one who I would really like to fight if he is still there is a Calzaghe fight. If I can drag him out of retirement. I called him out when he was the WBC champion and when we went after that title he stepped down. Around that situation he has got a lot to answer for. He insinuated a couple of times that if the money was right he would fight me, and I certainly would. They could do 90,000 over at the Millennium Stadium in Great Britain with both British and American TV. Calzaghe, Pavlik, Bute, but this man to my right is the best super middleweight in the world bar none.”
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