• Steve Bunce

Fantastic Froch knows Ward can wait

Steve Bunce May 28, 2013
After avenging his defeat by Mikkel Kessler, Froch has his heart set on beating Andre Ward © Getty Images

It's music to my ears that Carl Froch is talking about four more years - and only four more fights - before he hangs up his gloves. After what we saw the IBF and WBA super-middleweight champion produce against Mikkel Kessler at The O2, and his displays over the years, it's clear to me that he shouldn't be fighting five times every couple of years. A fight a year is the way boxing is heading at the moment, and that sounds perfect for Carl. It's a modern model.

It was the genuine blockbuster fight that British boxing has been waiting for since David Haye and Dereck Chisora last summer - absolutely sensational. Just don't expect Froch to bounce straight from that to an Andre Ward fight, or a Hopkins fight, a Cleverley fight, or a Kessler rematch. I don't think it's going to happen, and I don't think it should. You can't bounce from super-fight to super-fight - that happens in Rocky, not in the real world, even if there were moments on Saturday when it looked like we were in a Rocky movie and not in south London.

Carl's body needs time to recover. I posed the question, to myself almost, while I was watching him at The O2: has there ever been a world champion who has fought with so many documented injuries? Carl has boxed with perforated eardrums (plural), with a separated rib, with a damaged knee, damaged shoulder, elbow, ankle, hands... He's talked about the injuries both in the build-up to fights and afterwards, win or lose. These aren't invented injuries or slight strains - they're setbacks that ended up requiring surgery or serious treatment.

The human body, even that of a world champion boxer, can only take so much. Carl puts himself through a lung-busting three-month training camp before he steps in the ring. You can't keep putting yourself through the hours of intensive work-outs needed to get through gruelling fights for the rest of your life. The Klitschkos get around that by not having gruelling fights!

I imagine he will have a homecoming fight in November, an easy match-up along the lines of his Yusaf Mack win. Mark my words, Mack served a purpose - when Carl fought Lucien Bute, everybody in Nottingham held their breath. They knew it was make or break for Carl - and that's not me or the fans guessing, that's what Carl Froch and his promoter Eddie Hearn told them. Carl made it, and the crowd came out for the deserved homecoming against Mack. He needed that fight last year. I can see him having something similar this year - and tickets will be hard to get, trust me!

After that? I think there will be a big fight next year, another the year after that and one more in 2016. There's certainly plenty of big names out there for him, both those we've mentioned and the fighters coming through. Who knows where Gennadiy Golovkin or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will be in two or three years time? Or how about James DeGale and George Groves? They're not ready for Carl Froch now and probably won't be next year, but they could be there in 2015. That's why I think a fight a year is a great policy. It makes all the sense in the world.

Of course, top of Carl's wish-list is Andre Ward. As the American has said, his WBC belt has been sent back to Mexico and the board has been advised to put it somewhere where the sun doesn't shine after they vacated his title and declared him 'champion emeritus' on account of his long spell out of the ring being compounded by injuries.

Andre Ward is the best super-middleweight in the world - he's proven that by beating Kessler and Froch. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have his legitimate challengers - and Froch is the most legitimate of them all right now.

I think Ward fancies the rematch. He was ringside on Saturday night and I think the experience genuinely left him stunned. He was in awe of that atmosphere. Whether that will get him to fight in Britain, I don't know, but it's possible. Froch does bring some stuff to the negotiating table that Ward can't.

On Froch's side is his standing in the sport - a man regarded as one of the most exciting boxers in the world, a guy prepared to fight anybody anywhere, if the terms and the money are right. On Ward's side is that unbeaten record, the acknowledgement that he is a great pound-for-pound fighter, and - biggest of all - the fact that he won their first fight. Carl Froch said himself: forget the judges, Ward beat me. Two of the judges had it as tight as a two-point win - you couldn't describe it as comfortable, but you certainly wouldn't say tight.

Ward not only thinks he will win again but he that it'll be an easier fight this time around. Carl's last five years have been filled with fantastic but potentially damaging slugfests. In contrast, Ward's got little on the clock in terms of damage or gruelling contests in his entire history. As Froch said after their first fight: you don't lose to Andre Ward, you have your pocket picked. That's what it is like, fighting a pickpocket. That doesn't make you a bad fighter - there's a geezer called Floyd Mayweather who's not bad at picked people's pockets!

Andre Ward is an attraction in certain cities in America, especially his home town of Oakland. And he is a bit of a purist - it will always be a tricky fight. He certainly won't come to the UK to fight in front of those fans without a bit of deep-pocket persuasion - he'll come here because his paymasters in America, HBO, making it financially worthwhile. If the money's right, I do believe Ward will fight here. If not, the fight will take place in America. It's that simple.

However, what everybody wants is Kessler v Froch III. That could still happen according to Kessler's promoter Kalle Sauerland...

On this week's Podcast, Sauerland hints at Kessler's next move, and Robert McCracken talks about the five years it took for Carl Froch to become an overnight sensation. In the next couple of weeks we'll have a better idea of what they're both doing - Sauerland acknowledged that Mikkel might walk away from boxing. Until next week - adios.

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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.