Say what you want to about Carl Froch’s lackadaisical style, cocky nature or defensive lapses, but you cannot deny that when the undefeated British super-middleweight puts his punches together seriously, he really does look like the world class prospect he keeps telling us he is.
His Commonwealth title defence against South African trier Ruben Groenewald, coming after surgery on an injured knuckle on his right hand, again highlighted some of Froch’s strengths and also some of the reasons criticism is sometimes leveled against him. It took him almost a round and a half to throw a serious punch, and three and a half rounds to open up, but as soon as he did it was obvious that his heavy hands were too much for Groenewald. The South African, 19-4-3 coming in, was dumped heavily onto the canvas right at the end of the third, was let off the hook slightly in the 4th, and was then stopped in the 5th whilst being pummeled on the ropes.
The stoppage looked highly premature, with Groenewald still clear-eyed and fighting back. He looked shocked and angry at referee Howard Foster Jr who jumped in just as Groenewald was throwing a counter punch in reply, but although the fight may have gone on a round or so more, the actual outcome was never going to be anything but a stoppage win for Carl Froch.
The 6’1”, perfectly sculpted British and Commonwealth champion, now 17-0-0 with 13 ko’s, again looked tremendous when letting his hands go, thumping home solid right hands, left hooks and whipping uppercuts…but was also lazy and casual at times. Groenewald won the first round on effort alone as Froch, with his low held guard, smiled and taunted his man before a good crowd at the Ice Arena in Froch’s home town of Nottingham in the Midlands.
The South African landed a few good shots in the second also, and was doing okay in the third until Froch suddenly kicked into gear. A left hook buckled Groenewald’s knees slightly, and a follow up assault sent the 28 year old challenger spinning to the canvas, barely making it up as the bell went to end the round.
Froch stalked in the 4th without landing many significant power punches, but then began to turn it on in the 5th to finish the fight. Afterwards, the champion praised his challenger and looked forward to future bouts with the super-middleweight division’s elite.
“I want Joe Calzaghe,” he told Sky Sports reporter Ed Robinson afterwards, “I know he’s go the big Jeff Lacy fight, but I want the winner of that. In fact, I want Calzaghe whether he wins or loses. It’s one of the best fights in Britain to be made.” Before that match comes to fruition however, Froch must first take care of his mandatory British title defence against Northern Irishman Brian Magee, a talented southpaw coming off a narrowly failed European title challenge. “Yeah, I’d fight Magee,” Froch declared, “and I’d destroy him the same as I did Groenewald.”
Froch is confident, brash and talented. Whether his knockout power and physical advantages are enough to guide him from British to European to World level remain to be seen, but with the punching display he finally displayed tonight, it will be fun seeing him try.
In the chief support contest, Manchester lightweight John Murray and Colombian counterpart Nacho Mendoza put on a delightful display of in-fighting before a bump of heads saw the fight go to the scorecards in the eight round of a ten rounder.
The two fighters, with less than twenty professional fights each and just 20 and 22 years of age respectively, showed skills beyond their experience, standing toe-to-toe and delivering eye catching bursts of quality punching before a head clash raised a nasty swelling on Murray’s head. Referee Mark Green waved off the contest, and the judges tallied scores of 78-75 and 77-75 to Murray, who improved to 16-0-0 (8) and showed why he is being called one of England’s hottest young prospects.
Little was known about the 16-2-1 Colombian coming in, but he impressed on his British debut. His muscular little frame and speedy, sharp combinations gave Murray plenty of trouble in the opening few rounds, before the Mancunian’s never ending aggression and tenacity took over. Mendoza didn’t stop trying, however, and even though he didn’t seem entirely comfortable fighting at such a close range, he tried to give as good as he got, swiping away with short left hooks and uppercuts before covering his rib cage from Murray’s body bashing assaults. It was a shame to see the contest end prematurely, but the swelling on Murray’s head was beginning to look reminiscent of the ugly growth Hasim Rahman received in his fight with Evander Holyfield a few years ago. Both men showed class here, and both could feature in years to come at 135lbs world level.