Fearless super middleweight Carl Froch, 34, produced a career-best performance on Saturday, May 26, to unseat previously undefeated Lucian Bute (30-1-0, 24ko) from his IBF throne at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England.
Not even favoured by the bookmakers in his own country, Froch (29-2-0, 21ko) defied the odds by dominating the athletic 32-year-old – who had made nine successful defences of his IBF super middleweight world title – in each and every round before forcing referee, Earl Brown, to withdraw Bute from combat in the fifth stanza following an unanswered shellacking from the Briton.
Froch was forceful with the jab, pumped unrelenting right fists into Bute’s face, cut the former champion up and left him on jelly legs on multiple occasions in the third, fourth and fifth rounds.
Since 2008, Froch has embarked on a gauntlet run that has seen him continuously take on fighters with international pedigree… he has out-pointed Jean Pascal, stopped Jermain Taylor, edged Andre Dirrell, bossed Arthur Abraham, overseen Glen Johnson but it is the battering of Bute that currently defines his already illustrious career.
It was revealed by the new three-time world champion himself that, had he lost to Lucian, then he would have hung up the gloves, but as a world-titlist once more, he has a number of lucrative options that may well be presented to him by his promoter Eddie Hearn, head of boxing at Matchroom Sports.
1: Lucian Bute
A rematch clause was embedded into the initial fight contract between Bute and Froch as Matchroom and Interbox agreed to a ‘home and away’ deal on the assumption that the bout in England would be competitive. Froch’s victory was so comprehensive, though, that a do-over would not be as easy a sell as it would have been had the contest lasted the 12 round distance. Hearn even commented in the post-fight press conference that Bute would not be able to immediately challenge for Froch’s newly-acquired IBF title as he suffered a technical knockout loss, meaning the rematch would either be a non-title tussle or both would have to move on and arrange alternative match-ups, pushing their prospective second fight into the future.
2: Mikkel Kessler
The Viking Warrior Kessler (45-2-0, 34ko) is one of only two men to defeat Froch when they battled in Denmark in the group stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic. Kessler went on to pull out of the competition citing an eye injury but returned to the ring to piece together successive stoppages over Mehdi Bouadla and Allan Green. The chance to avenge his first ever loss remains a driving force for The Cobra and this fight, potentially back at the same arena he slayed Bute in, is arguably the most likely to transpire as Kessler would welcome the challenge (he was even ringside on May 26).
3: Andre Ward
Like Kessler, Ward (25-0-0, 13ko) inflicted defeat onto Froch, yet ‘Dre’s win was far more resounding as he out-techniqued Froch, winning the inside battle whilst successfully nullifying Carl’s attack. Following Froch’s performance against Bute, he labelled his display versus Ward as an off-night and, even though he was warm to the idea of rematching the American, he is unlikely to do so in Ward’s backyard in Oakland, California. Revisiting this old ground is one for the future, but not one for now, particularly when Ward himself is tied up for the rest of the year as he takes on light heavyweight supremo Chad Dawson in September.
4: Adonis Stevenson
Arguably the least-known name on the list on this page, 34-year-old southpaw Adonis Stevenson (18-1-0, 15ko) was installed as the number one challenger for the IBF’s super middleweight championship earlier this year. With Froch now in the incumbency, he will soon have to honour his mandatory challenger with a duel and, despite the Canadian’s lack of pedigree and name-value, he has a good world rank and is on a knockout-winning run.
5: Robert Stieglitz
The three fighters who hold the recognised world title belts at 168lbs are Ward (WBC/WBA/The Ring), Froch (IBF) and Robert Stieglitz (WBO). The latter – who has reigned since 2009 – is due to face Arthur Abraham in August but, if successful, the skilled German could be free for what would be a two-belt unification later in the year. Every defence Stieglitz (42-2-0, 23ko) has made, though, has been in Germany and 30-year-old is unlikely to leave his home comforts, meaning Froch would have to take his adorn the tag of road warrior once more.
6: A battle of Britain against one of a: Nathan Cleverly, b: George Groves or c: James DeGale
Hearn’s rival promoter Frank Warren has three pugilists who could represent lucrative opponents for Froch in WBO light heavyweight world champion Nathan Cleverly (24-0-0, 11ko), British and Commonwealth super middleweight king George Groves (14-0-0, 11ko) and current EBU super middleweight titlist James DeGale (12-1-0, 9ko). All of whom are ranked within the top 15 in the world, yet all are inexperienced at elite level. The British media have speculated on a move to 175lbs for Froch, but he is not a big super middleweight and could still enhance his own legacy campaigning in the same weight class where he has already achieved so much. Groves has a large following in London, but would risk an undefeated status and a potential world title shot with who is perceived to be the ‘lesser’ of the world champions – Stieglitz, leaving DeGale, who has documented problems with Warren and whose soul performance of the year thus far has been on a Sauerland event in Denmark.
There are, of course, other options including a rematch with Andre Dirrell, a bout with Anthony Dirrell, Edwin Rodriguez, or Kelly Pavlik, but neither – currently – make as much sense as the aforementioned. Having already added Bute to his scalps, Froch has made a considerable claim to performance of the year and should he match that with a similar display later in the year, then he could become the 2012 recipient of the fighter of the year award. To topple Kessler, the man who edged him two years ago, he would be fully deserving of that accolade…
Editor – On The Beak, http://onthebeak.com/