Carl Froch threatens 'trench warfare' against Andre Ward

By Matt SlaterSports news reporter
WBC super-middleweight champion Carl Froch in action during a media work out at the English Institute of Sport on November 16, 2011 in Sheffield, England
Froch says Ward is about to meet the 'toughest fighter of his career'

Carl Froch is happy to be the underdog against Andre Ward in their super-middleweight clash in Atlantic City next month because he has "made the bookies look stupid many times before".

The British star is putting his WBC title against Ward's WBA belt in the final of the two-year Super Six series.

"He'll have to go deeper and harder than ever before - I'm going to drag him into the trenches," Froch said.

"It will be extraordinarily uncomfortable for him."

Froch earned his place in the 17 December decider by beating Glen Johnson in June, a month after Ward outclassed Arthur Abraham in his semi-final.

"Ward is the bookies' favourite because he's an American fighting in America but that means nothing," insisted Froch.

"He's a world and Olympic champion [2004 in Athens], and he's not come this far in this tournament without being a great fighter.

"But for all his positives, there are negatives and it is my job to exploit them.

"He's not a big puncher, he's not physically tough and he's hardly fought outside his home patch [in California], so there's a lot going against him.

"He's also about to meet the toughest fighter of his career, in a place I know well, and with two world titles on the line, so the judges should be above board and fair."

Froch's chin, courage and all-action approach make him a favourite with the fans, if not the gamblers, but Ward's counter-punching style and speed mark him out as perhaps the Englishman's trickiest opponent since he met a similar boxer, Andre Dirrell, in his first Super Six contest in 2009.

The 34-year-old gained a split decision over his American opponent that night, although some observers have wondered what the result would have been if the fight had not been in Froch's home town of Nottingham.

Froch completely dismisses any suggestion he did not win that bout and says he could make a similar complaint about the only defeat of his 29-fight professional career, last year's loss to Mikkel Kessler in Denmark.

In typical fashion, Froch bounced back from that setback to beat the highly fancied Abraham in a memorable encounter in Finland last November - "I was a massive underdog against Abraham but wiped the floor with him" - before the relatively straightforward defeat of the Jamaican veteran Johnson this summer.

Froch, a former British and Commonwealth champion, had hoped to meet Ward in October but the fight was postponed when the undefeated American sustained a cut in training in September.

After five gruelling fights in the Super Six format, the winner of the New Jersey showdown should be forgiven for assuming they have become the undisputed number one at super-middleweight but there are some boxing fans who consider the IBF champion Lucian Bute to be the best at 168 pounds.

Froch, however, is forthright in his view that this is "rubbish".

"There are only two names on Bute's CV that stand out, Brian Magee and Glen Johnson, and I beat both of those far more convincingly than he did," said Froch.

"He might be the IBF champion but he only fights at home [in Canada] and that's why he doesn't get the credit or respect, which he doesn't really deserve anyway, because he's not fought anybody that great.

"I'd love to have a unification bout with him but it wouldn't be a particularly big fight for me. It would be an easy fight."

But there are two opponents very much on Froch's radar: Kessler and Nathan Cleverly, Wales' light-heavyweight world champion.

"I'd welcome the chance for a rematch with Kessler, I want to get that blemish off my record," he said.

"And a fight against Cleverly could potentially be made. He's a light-heavyweight [175 pounds], so that's a realistic step-up in division for me, and it would be a great fight for the British public."

Whether this contest would settle who is Britain's best pound-for-pound boxer is debatable, as many favour the claims of light-welterweight Amir Khan.

Not Froch, though, who when asked if the former Olympic silver medallist is the top Brit, said: "In a word, no."

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