Friday, June 3, 2011

Four Scenarios: Froch-Johnson

Unlike the Hopkins-Pascal II and Pacquiao-Mosley previews, I envision fewer scenarios in how Froch-Johnson might play out than I did for the ones listed above.  I think that this fight is fairly easy to handicap.  If Carl Froch boxes like he did against Arthur Abraham, he will win easily.  If Glen Johnson lands something hard, he can knock Froch out. 

In the following scenarios, after each outcome you will see a percentage, which is a probability of that particular outcome happening.  My prediction will be at the end of the article.

Scenario #1.  Froch defeats Johnson by a comfortable decision.  40%

There have been two established blueprints for how to defeat the late-model version of Glen Johnson.  Tavoris Cloud roughed up Johnson on the inside.  He fought a savage war in close quarters and bettered the aging fighter with vicious lead right hands and left hooks.  He used his body and a lot of grappling to tire Johnson.  Cloud also showed that he had the chin to withstand Johnson's right hands.  Froch has a good chin but lacks the physicality to bother Johnson on the inside.  Froch probably won't fight in that style, which would expose him to Johnson's power.

Froch will most likely follow the second blueprint, which was established by Chad Dawson in his second fight with Johnson.  Dawson jabbed, pot-shotted and used the ring to notch a comfortable victory.  It was not a pleasing performance for fans of action, but it was effective for Dawson. 

I doubt that Froch will try to stink out the fight; it's not in his nature.  Nevertheless, his easiest path to winning the fight will be to utilize the ring, control distance, employ angles and prohibit Johnson from effectively setting his feet (Johnson almost always needs to be stationary to throw his right hands).  Prior to the Arthur Abraham fight, I didn't think that Froch could fight in a style that relied on boxing instead of brawling.  Froch proved many of his skeptics wrong with the way he dominated Abraham, relying on his footwork, jab and spacing to pile up points.  That performance suggested real growth in Froch as an all-around fighter.  

For this scenario, "comfortable" means that Froch wins at least eight rounds, or 116-112.  Even with this wide score, it is quite possible that Johnson will have his moments and win some rounds.  

Scenario #2.  Johnson knocks Froch out in the late rounds.  25%

Johnson has two knockout weapons.  In the Roy Jones fight, (and to a lesser degree, the first Chad Dawson fight), Johnson displayed his pinpoint, short right hand.  He usually sets it up with the jab and lands it square on the chin.  The punch doesn't always look that impressive on television because it is so short.   But make no mistake, Johnson's right cross is damaging.  After feeling that power, Dawson ran the next fight-and-a-half against Johnson while Jones spent an eternity on the canvas.  If Froch can't take that punch, he'll spend some time Sunday morning talking to some attractive nurses.

Johnson's second weapon is a chopping right hand that he lands behind his opponent's ear.  This punch ceremoniously ended Allan Green's stay in the Super Six tournament.  Johnson looks for this punch when there are exchanges on the inside and he'll sometimes throw many in succession.  He can sometimes get wide with this punch and it isn't always accurate.  When it lands, it can change the outcome of a fight.

Froch's fight with Jermain Taylor is the key in assessing the likelihood of this scenario.  Prior to the Taylor fight, Froch was thought to have a superhuman chin; Taylor was able to drop him.  Johnson has better power than Taylor did but Taylor had better technique to set up his shots.  Tellingly, Froch survived the Taylor knockdown and wound up winning the fight.  Essentially, Johnson will have a harder time hurting Froch than Taylor did, but if Johnson succeeds, Froch may not be so quick to recover. 

If Johnson wins by knockout, it will probably be in the later rounds as Froch tires, loses his discipline or lets his guard down.  I'm predicting that if this scenario unfolds, that it will happen in the ninth round or later.   

Scenario #3.  Froch defeats Johnson by a close decision.  20%

This scenario is tied to the previous one.  This outcome is possible if Froch gets caught by Johnson, but is able to survive.  Froch will most likely win the earlier rounds of the fight based on his jab, movement and ring generalship.  Johnson may take over in the middle or later rounds but either Froch will have enough rounds in the bank to secure the victory or he will recover from whatever damage Johnson unleashes, and pulls ahead in the championship rounds. 

This outcome would produce major fireworks and is the basis for why boxing fans are so enthused about this particular matchup.  In order to win, Froch will need his wits and his discipline to survive the Johnson onslaught of right hands: a riveting scenario.

Scenario 4.  Other.  15%

There are a number of other possible endings for this fight based on the unique style matchup of the two boxers.  1.  Fight is stopped because of a cut caused by an accidental head butt.  Even though both fighters are right-handed, Froch sometimes boxes in such a herky-jerky style that cuts could conceivably be a problem in the fight.  Also, if Johnson is able to assert his preference for in-fighting, than butts could occur on the inside.  The overall winner in this scenario would be determined by which round the fight is stopped.  If the fight ends before the conclusion of the fourth, the fight would be declared a no-contest.  If the fight is stopped after the fourth, they would go to the scorecards and award a winner.  2.  Johnson wins by early round KO.  Similar to the Roy Jones fight, it's possible that Johnson could land such a thundering right hand that Froch won't recover.  3.  Draw.  If the fight is close, a draw is certainly a possibility, especially with Johnson being a sentimental favorite of many in the boxing industry (this may also include a judge or two).  4.  Froch wins by late-round knockout.  Let's be clear, there's no way that Froch wins by a ten-count.  This scenario would only occur if Johnson's trainer, Orlando Cuellar, determines that his fighter has absorbed too much punishment, and he subsequently decides to end it.  

Prediction:  Froch boxes beautifully in the early rounds and survives some rough moments in the middle rounds as Johnson works his way into the fight.  Froch recovers and handily wins all of the championship rounds.

Froch wins 117-111, or nine rounds to three.

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