First and foremost, a big thank you to those who got involved in my last blog on the brutal Lebedev-Jones encounter a week ago.
Inevitably, there were a huge number of comments about banning the sport as a whole. Of course, my point was that boxing, a sport I love, ran the risk of giving such rash and melodramatic complaints even more ammunition because of just one instance, yet another instance, of fighters not being properly protected by the system in which they put their bodies on the line.
But those of you who came at the topic with more balanced and productive responses, thanks again, and I suspect there will be a follow-up blog in the near future about some of the possible solutions you guys suggested.
This week, we move from a cruiserweight war to what should be a war in the super-middleweight division. That said, let’s hope it does not get that close to making such a casual sporting term a reality, after Carl Froch’s claims that he would ‘kill’ Mikkel Kessler on Saturday at London’s O2 Arena.
To Froch’s credit, he has since apologised for the remark, and to be honest, many had already washed off his words as a simple attempt to help sell a pay-per-view.
Which brings me to my pre-fight point.
We are in an age, thankfully, when there's no need to pay £15 a pop for every half-decent British bout. It just does not happen any more. It was there for a while, in the days when pay-per-view killed off the glory days of world title fights being shown live on free-to-air televisions. But luckily demand for such expensive (or lucrative, from the opposite point of view) bouts faded so much that fans can watch decent boxing without shelling out huge amounts. BoxNation’s subscription service doesn't mean things are exactly ultra-cheap, but it takes a huge bout to leave TV bods confident enough to charge a one-off fee these days.
The Froch-Kessler rematch is one of them. And to put it into context, Floyd Mayweather – Mr Boxing on PPV – had his last fight against Robert Guerrero screened in the UK by the aforementioned BoxNation, meaning the customer could pay £10 for that plus a month’s worth of live boxing and colour content.
For Froch, this is the culmination of a year-long journey from a good British fighter to ‘The Man’ on these shores, in our rings. He is now Britain’s Mayweather when it comes to pulling in punters. And the last weekend of May is becoming the UK’s Cinco de Mayo weekend. Veinticinco, if you will.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Froch and Mayweather are on any sort of level standing when it comes to buyrates. I don’t think anyone can sell television orders like ‘Money’.
He is in a position where he can do minimal promotional work for his fights, not sell out the MGM, and yet still rake in PPV figures above and beyond other boxer’s wildest dreams.
Froch, in fairness, has put in a hell of a lot of effort promoting this fight, ill-advised comments at press conferences notwithstanding. From dressing up as a video game warrior to touring Europe amidst a three-month verbal spree promising to make right his first-ever pro defeat, the IBF champion has more than carried his end of the pay-per-view situation and I expect a good figure to be posted next week.
Many expect Froch to get his win back, and thanks to the points outlined above, he really kinda has to.
This is more than just a suitable fight for both men with a headline-grabbing backstory. This is more than just a revenge mission. Froch’s status as the best British pound-for-pound boxer today is very much on the line.
His comments are regarded by some as arrogant, though to me they are standard fare for a fighter – especially one who has not backed down from a challenge and is always prepared to put his boasts on the line in the ring.
If he beats Kessler – and especially if he hands the Dane his first stoppage loss – the money-making opportunities for the The Cobra’s last few years as a pro are endless.
Would that mean fighting Andre Ward again? Win or lose – and he was outclassed the first time around – it would nonetheless sell out a stadium over here, and do pretty big business if it were held Stateside again.
George Groves? Matchroom have them both now, and the apparent disdain Froch has for other Brit boxers would mean the fight would sell itself, giving us the domestic superfight we have not had since The Saint outpointed James Degale two years ago – also at the O2.
Bernard Hopkins has told press that he would love to return to 168lbs after his bout with Karo Murat in July and take on “Cal Frowch”, adding: “imagine how electric the press conferences would be for that!”
Erm, perhaps, B-Hop – but I’d wager a bet that the fight would be a little bit more exciting than the pressers.
Nathan Cleverly – another Brit in a recent war of words with Carl – seems more of an outside possibility, as are other light-heavyweight stars. Froch certainly won't feel like he has to step up in weight for big earning opportunities.
Regardless of who would be next, if Froch beats Kessler he wins more than just another world title and a heap of redemption. He earns the right to walk majestically to the ring every year, in late May, and outshine his peers in the domestic box office stakes, probably until the day he hangs his gloves up.
He’s already way out ahead, and revenge over The Viking Warrior would stop anyone from catching him.
And if you think he’s full of confidence now…
Liam Happe | Follow on Twitter