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Azad Championship Report - Who Needs Who?


In a fight in which its intensity matched the electric atmosphere inside the O2 Arena in London, Carl Froch gained revenge on his “Super Six” conqueror, Mikkel Kessler, by the scores of 116-112, 115-113 and the far-too-wide margin of 118-110, to unify the IBF and WBA super middleweight titles. It’s debatable if he’s as good as Joe Calzaghe from a historical perspective but this much is clear; Froch is currently the best and most accomplished boxer in Britain. 
It’s not even close.
Froch is a fighter of many imperfections yet somehow, he makes it all work. He’s what you’d call “awkwardly effective.” He’s not particularly stylish - at least in the classic sense - but he finds ways to win versus quality opposition. With Froch, the totality is greater than the sum of the parts. Kessler might have been more fundamentally sound and possess a better skill set than the hardnosed pugilist from Nottingham but Froch simply never let Kessler gain full momentum during this tightly contested affair.

(Azad Championship Report)
(Azad Championship Report)

Both men landed their share of hard punches but it was Froch who was seemingly more intent to punch with greater malice and was willing to walk through a bit more fire. And in the 12th stanza, with Kessler having won the late rounds as Froch’s activity waned, “The Cobra” reestablished control of the proceedings by using the last of his reservoir of energy to stun Kessler with a late flurry, bringing the sold-out crowd to its feet. It was a fitting crescendo to a fight that lived up to its billing.
In the course of one year, Froch has dismantled the undefeated Lucian Bute (on May 26, 2012) and now evened the score on Kessler (sandwiched around a stay-busy blowout of Yusaf Mack). Froch is a fighter’s fighter, willing to face anyone at anytime, all the while consistently putting on a good show for the fans.
But while he has two belts in his possession, the true and undisputed ruler at 168 is Andre Ward, who was ringside calling the action for HBO. Last week, I wrote this column: ( stating that the winner of this past weekend’s return bout will have done more than enough to earn a rematch with Ward, who, quite frankly, doesn’t have many other palatable options should he stay in the super middleweight class.
Now, after the showing put forth by Froch on Saturday and his post-“Super Six” résumé, can anyone disagree that this man has done more than enough to state his case for another crack at Ward?
Let’s get this out of the way before the angry pound-for-pound denizens and residents of the Bay Area deluge me with angry emails: I think Ward will always have Froch’s number and would be a sizable favorite should they meet again (my guess would be about four-to-one, as I get my Herb Lambeck on). Simply put, he’s too athletic, too fluid, too sound and too quick for Froch. The technical idiosyncrasies of Froch would be exploited into full-blown weaknesses by the master craftsman from Oakland.
That said, there’s a reason why one fights the fights. Froch has undoubtedly improved by leaps and bounds in recent years and right now, he has clearly established himself as the number one contender in the super middleweight division. And while he’s certainly not the best fighter in this weight class, it’s clear he’s now it’s biggest draw (although Bute’s bubble may have not fully burst in Montreal) and would most likely represent the biggest payday and highest-profile bout Ward can realistically make as of this moment (and I said “realistic.” Ward’s thoughts of facing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. are nothing but a pipe dream for now).
Ward is one of the premiere prizefighters on the planet (regardless if you like his style or not) but Froch is the bigger name. Yeah, I know; I know. Ward beat Froch handily back in December of 2011 to capture the “Super Six” crown but since then, Ward has been beset by injuries, limiting him to just one appearance while Froch’s career has ascended to heights that never seemed imaginable when he had to rally late against Jermain Taylor a few years ago.
There is a reason why the Froch-Kessler fight sold 18,000 tickets in three hours (not days, mind you) and why Ward drew about half that for his September clash against Chad Dawson at the Oracle in Oakland. You could safely assume a rematch between Ward and Froch in the U.K. would draw between 30-40,000 fans.
But the question is does Ward really want to travel? And the bigger question is does he even have to?
The reality is that like other standout boxers in America, Ward has been inoculated from such trivial issues as ticket sales with the multimillion dollar license fees doled out by the likes of HBO, which are often not in line with the actual market value of a boxer (an example would be Andre Berto, who got paid millions for drawing hundreds on the network for several years). Ward will make seven figures for his annual appearances on HBO regardless of where he performs - and regardless of how many people are there to see him live. There may not be enough of a financial incentive for him to break out his passport.
Perhaps in another bygone era when a boxer’s purse was reliant on gate receipts, Ward would have no choice but to hit the road. But that day has come and gone like the 15-round championship fight and rosin on the canvas.
As for Froch, yeah, you get the feeling the salty S.O.B. absolutely wants another crack at the “S.O.G.” But you must wonder if in the back of his promoter, Eddie Hearn’s mind, is it even necessary to go back into a fight where your client was handily defeated and would be a prohibitive underdog. Froch is 35, certainly much closer to the end of his career than its beginning. There are other options for Froch that exist in their own backyards, much easier fights that present a lot less risk.
Ward is the superior boxer, no doubt.
But it’s Froch who makes better fights.
I’ve been told by more than a few fans via email and on Twitter that they would rather spend their hard-earned money on Froch fights rather than Ward. As illogical and backward as this may sound to some, the reality is that professional boxing is still largely the entertainment business. Hearn is a savvy promoter and he realizes this. Just about whoever Froch is put in front of in Britain will allow him a license to print money for a couple of years.
So while Froch says he wants Ward, really, he may not need him.
And Ward may not need Froch. He’s going to make his money regardless.
So who needs who here?
I found the HBO broadcast to be a bit bizarre on Saturday afternoon. It was as if they couldn’t stop mentioning the presence of Ward (who defeated both Froch and Kessler in the “Super Six”) to a point where it almost took away from a very good fight taking place right in front of them.
Then after a heated finish to a memorable battle, Jim Lampley pointed out how Ward has basically dominated both of these men. Huh? What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China (as Larry Merchant would say)? It was almost as if the broadcast - which I assume was purchased by HBO because they wanted to spark interest in a potential Ward opponent - was there to just mainly prop up Ward and discredit the guys in the ring.
Regardless, it has to be pointed out that despite the very premature reports of the demise of HBO’s boxing franchise, in the first half of 2013, they have given us some gems in Tim Bradley-Ruslan Provodnikov, Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios II and now Froch-Kessler II.
Too bad Oscar De la Hoya hasn’t been able to see any of these fights.
I thought the in-house production at the O2 Arena was great. American promoters and networks need to take notice. The bells and whistles can really enhance a big fight...While the timing wasn’t great, I think they eventually got it right regarding the Delvin Rodriguez-Freddie Hernandez fight, eventually ruled a TKO win for Rodriguez after further review on replays at the Foxwoods on “Friday Night Fights”...What’s going on at Rutgers? Who are they going to hire next in their athletic department, Chris Brown or something?...Is there a curse of the number five jersey at Notre Dame?...I can be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.

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