• Boxing

Froch digs deep to overcome Johnson

ESPN staff
June 5, 2011

Carl Froch defended his WBC super-middleweight title by defeating Glen Johnson on a majority points decision - although he was forced to survive a few scares in Atlantic City.

While one judge scored the fight 114-114, the other two gave it to Froch 117-111 and 116-112, meaning he moves into a unification clash with WBA king Andre Ward later this year.

Froch, who was content to box on the back foot throughout, recovered from a slow start to control the mid-section and final rounds of the fight.

Wily veteran Johnson, 42, did have his moments, however, wobbling Froch in the eighth and ninth round with clubbing overhand rights. The Jamaican used all his experience to cut down the ring, forcing his opponent to go toe-to-toe more than he would have hoped.

Froch took a while to adjust to Johnson's come-forward style in the early stages, but he found a rhythm as the fight wore on, landing punishing combinations from range to assume total control.

Earlier in the night, former WBA super-lightweight champion Gavin Rees rode a fast start to a unanimous points victory against previously undefeated Andrew Murray to take the vacant European lightweight belt.

The Welshman was somewhat fortunate, however, flagging visibly over the closing rounds - but Murray was unable to make that count as his opponent somewhat fell over the finishing line. Despite seeing a point deducted at one point for excessive clinching, two judges scored the fight 115-112 in Rees' favour, with the other seeing it 116-112.

Rees' handspeed in the early rounds was crucial to his triumph, as he ran rings around his Irish rival as he found great success building off the job. He even found time to taunt Murray mid-way through the contest - dropping his hands and inviting attempts to land a strike - before questions about his fitness and training reared their head again towards the end.

A late flurry in the final round ensured he was not upset come the scorecards, and the 31-year-old was happy to take the victory.

"It was a good performance and a terrible performance," Rees said. "I had a little blip but came back and proved my skill again at the end."

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