Friday, August 28, 2015

Lukie Boxing's Podcast: Santa Cruz-Mares

This week I joined Lukie Boxing's podcast to preview the Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares fight. We also talked about the big fall matchups, including Golovkin-Lemieux, Cotto-Canelo and Mayweather-Berto. Click to listen here.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter, SN Boxing on Facebook
Contact Adam at 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Santa Cruz-Mares: Keys to the Fight

A rare, high-profile, late-summer clash unfolds at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday as undefeated Leo Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17 KOs) meets former three-division champion Abner Mares (29-1-1, 15 KOs) in a featherweight showdown. Both boxers enter the ring with a lot riding on the fight. For Santa Cruz, Mares represents the opportunity to put his career back on an upward trajectory. Fighting lower-level opponents over the last 18 months, Santa Cruz has seen his star dim; a definitive win will remind the boxing community that he was once one of the hottest boxers in the sport. For Mares, he needs to demonstrate that he can still compete at the top level of the sport. Since his loss to Jhonny Gonzalez two years ago, he has fought ineffectually in his three return bouts, far removed from the talent who was once a top-ten fighter in the world. Saturday is his chance to revive his career prospects. 

The matchup has a number of intriguing aspects to consider. Santa Cruz has yet to experience a true ring war, whereas Mares has been seasoned by the toughest combat. However, this difference could favor either fighter. It could be that Santa Cruz isn't psychologically prepared for Mares' roughhouse tactics and punishing body shots over 12 rounds. However, facing tough customers earlier in his career like Vic Darchinyan, Yonnhy Perez, Joseph Agbeko and Daniel Ponce de Leon, Mares might no longer have the legs and punch resistance that he once did. Santa Cruz could be the fresher fighter on Saturday.   

How all this plays out is anyone's guess. Stylistically, the fight should please, with a pressure fighter (Santa Cruz) against a boxer-puncher (Mares). Excellent arguments could be made in favor of either boxer. But you didn't come here for waffling! Below are my keys to the fight and my prediction follows.

1. Intangibles.

I wanted to start where I often finish: the intangibles. For this fight in particular, the technical, physical and strategic aspects of the bout might be less important than the psychological mindsets of the respective boxers. Mares has spoken about trying to regain his former ring pedigree and he has admitted that he had a hard time overcoming his loss to Gonzalez. Santa Cruz hasn't faced a "real" opponent in almost 18 months, and didn't seem particularly fazed by his prime being wasted in marking-time bouts against no-hopers. This begs the question: does his fire still burn? Does he still have the hunger to become an elite fighter?

This fight might very well turn on how each boxer reacts to duress at this point in his career. Santa Cruz has often looked like a whirlwind in the ring, but against lower-level fighters. Does he have another gear against better opponent? Has complacency taken over? When considering Mares, do his impressive wins earlier in his career still matter? Is he even the same guy? More than a good hook or a flashy combination, the fighter who can psychologically rise to the moment will most likely prevail in this matchup.  

2. Santa Cruz should blitz Mares immediately. 

In Mares' three comeback fights since his knockout loss to Gonzalez, he has often boxed dispassionately. It's certainly possible that he still feels gun shy. Santa Cruz can't let Mares ease his way into the fight. Santa Cruz must impress his will upon Mares from the opening bell with pressure and high punch volumes – let Mares decide if he still wants a bruising fight at this point in his career. Santa Cruz can't allow Mares to develop confidence; he needs to make it a war from the outset. With a good early showing by Santa Cruz, Mares could fold, either physically or mentally.  

3. Mares needs to go to the body early, and hard. 

To this point of his career, Santa Cruz has resembled a classic pressure fighter. He keeps coming forward and his solid chin allows him to maintain his aggression despite incoming return fire. Mares doesn't want to be in a 12-round war. He needs to find ways to keep Santa Cruz off him. The best way to get Santa Cruz's respect in the ring is going to the body with power shots (he walks through shots to his head). Mares throws a tremendous left hook and solid right hand downstairs. These shots can thwart Santa Cruz's aggression. As the fight progresses, Mares can incorporate his jab but early, his power shots to the body are critical in dictating the terms of the fight.

In addition, it should be noted that Mares has an earned reputation as a fouler, specifically with low blows (watch the Anselmo Moreno and first Joseph Agbeko fights for the particulars). Although I don't advocate illegal blows, Santa Cruz is a perfect opponent for a strategically placed shot south of the equator. Mares might very well be in a dogfight on Saturday and he needs all his tools to help keep Santa Cruz at bay.  

4. Santa Cruz has to avoid throwing lazy punches. 

As Santa Cruz tires in fights, he gets into bad habits. He reaches with punches and even more damningly, he starts throwing lazy shots that can be easily countered. Mares has the boxing pedigree and power to capitalize on these mistakes. He could counter with sharp right hands over a lazy jab or with left hooks to the body.

Santa Cruz needs to apply pressure in the fight but he's facing an opponent who will make him pay for mistakes. He must be in appropriate range to throw shots. Furthermore, Santa Cruz can't resort to arm punches when he's tired. He has to keep Mares focused on defense. The answer for Santa Cruz in this fight might not be 90 punches a round, many of which have little steam on them, but 65 or 70 solid ones. Even at that reduced pace, Mares won't match that volume over 12 rounds. Santa Cruz's shots need to count. 

5. Mares must find times to box and move.

Mares has the edge in traditional boxing skills. He has the superior technique, jab and movement. Yes, he'll have to stand his ground at points in the fight but he should avoid making the bout a phone booth war. Moving around the ring, he has the advantage, but when he's flat-footed and trading, he becomes more susceptible to Santa Cruz's attack.  

Movement will also reduce Santa Cruz's punch volume in the fight, a crucial component to beating him. Even an undersized guy like Cesar Seda won several rounds against Santa Cruz by using movement and craftiness. On the run, Mares can pick spots to potshot and engage in quick flurries. This approach may be his best chance for victory.


I've gone back and forth picking a winner in recent weeks. Although my indecisiveness could, in part, be attributed to the quality of the matchup, my real challenge here is assessing how the intangibles I mentioned earlier will play out in the ring. When the bout was first announced, I immediately thought that Mares would win. He is the better-schooled boxer of the two and his versatility should be a major plus in his favor. However, he may be far removed from his best days. If a boxer isn't in his physical prime or no longer has a passion for the sport, it doesn't matter how good he once was.  

As the fight has gotten closer, I have found myself siding with Santa Cruz. Unlike Mares, Santa Cruz has yet to have his moment of glory against a top opponent; he should be highly motivated (again, should). Ultimately, I think that his desire, energy and aggression will be enough to take a decision. I do believe that Mares will have several moments where he will look good but I think that Santa Cruz's more consistent effort over 12 rounds will be enough to take the decision.

I am picking Santa Cruz here although a Mares win wouldn't surprise me in the least. As I said, this really is a great matchup. 

Leo Santa Cruz defeats Abner Mares 116-112.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter, SN Boxing on Facebook

Monday, August 17, 2015

SNB Nuggets: PBC, Porter, Huck

We're just past five months of the PBC boxing era and the early returns have been a mixed bag. It's clear that PBC mastermind Al Haymon, also an advisor or manager of almost all of its boxers, has specific fighters that he's treating with kid gloves. Deontay Wilder, Keith Thurman and Amir Khan (to name three) have yet to be matched against a truly tough opponent, despite all of them having a rocky moment or two in their last respective PBC fights. In addition, a number of perceived mismatches loom on the horizon (Quillin-Zerafa really jumps out). Much of this has been well documented by others; however, some intriguing storylines have emerged in this initial run of the PBC.

Take this past weekend, for instance. PBC broadcasted two high-quality fights that most likely wouldn't have been televised on a major U.S. outlet in the pre-PBC era; the cruiserweight matchup between Marco Huck (Germany, although born in Serbia) against Krzysztof Glowacki (Poland) and Eleider Alvarez (Canada, originally from Colombia) against Isidro Prieto (Paraguay, but now lives in Argentina). Both of these fights were excellent – the Huck bout is my frontrunner for fight of the year – and it's clear to me that someone from Team Haymon is doing his/her boxing homework.

Two knocks on Haymon's tenure in boxing are insufficient development for his fighters and poor matchmaking. The flameouts of many of his supposed stars, like Jermain Taylor, Andre Berto and Adrien Broner are just three examples of fighters who were rushed to title shots without being developed properly. For examples of non-competitive matchmaking, look no further than Garcia-Salka, Quillin-Konecny or Peterson-Santana (Lucian Bute's opponent this weekend was laughably bad as well).

However, Huck-Glowacki and Alvarez-Prieto demonstrate that Team Haymon is more than capable of discovering fresh talent to put on its broadcasts and that PBC fighters can be appropriately challenged. These are important steps forward for Haymon because if one wants to corner the North American boxing television market (which he does), one must produce fighters who are good enough and prepared enough to dominate action at the top of the sport. In addition, quality matchups for these fighters will help stoke interest in them and the PBC brand as a whole. None of this is rocket science but Haymon et al. have often resisted some of the basic tenets of matchmaking and fighter development. Nevertheless, this weekend shows that Team Haymon is able to perform these vital functions. Of course, the irony is that both of these matchups were undercard fights for lackluster or perfunctory main events. But, for steps.


Mistakes. All fighters make them, whether they are strategic, technical, physical or mental. Even the best boxer in the world, Floyd Mayweather, is guilty of making errors in the ring. How many rounds did he have to get hammered on the ropes by Marcos Maidana in their first match until he realized that it was a bad idea? Similarly, he repeated the same mistake against Manny Pacquiao. Whenever he stayed on the ropes for a prolonged period, he got nailed. Floyd was obviously good enough to overcome these errors but many fighters are not. Let's add Marco Huck to this list.

Huck was sitting in the driver's seat in the 11th round of a tough fight against Glowacki on Friday. Scoring a knockdown in sixth round, Huck started to build his lead as the fight progressed into the championship rounds. After unloading a combination in the 11th round, he moved straight back with his hands down. Glowacki then fired off a winging left hand and a short right uppercut that changed the complexion of the fight. Huck, who had never been down before as a pro, hit the canvas. Although he did make the count, Glowacki charged forward and pounded him along the ropes, forcing ref David Fields to stop the fight.

Again, just a brief mistake and it was all over. It's not as if Huck is a flawless defensive fighter who had a brief slip up. He's always been easy to hit and has often displayed a disregard for defense; part of this attitude is what has led to his appeal as a fighter. However, this moment illustrates the fine line between winning and losing. 

Even the best defensive fighters get tagged hard. Think about Shane Mosley's right hand in the second round against Mayweather or Hopkins hitting the canvas twice in the first Jean Pascal fight. (Incidentally, Pascal was able to drop Hopkins because Bernard kept trying to escape to his right whenever Pascal flurried. Pascal eventually timed this pattern; Hopkins' predictability was a mistake.) The best fighters minimize their mistakes while trying to exploit those of their opponents. Even boxers beneath the top level try to follow a similar code. Glowacki found his perfect, opportunistic moment and capitalized. That one mistake by Huck has now made Glowacki's career. One moment. One silly little pull back. Boxing history changes.


Referee David Fields deserves substantial credit for his performance during the Huck-Glowacki fight. Glowacki was sent down from a wicked left hook in the sixth round and he was in bad shape. Spike commentator Jimmy Smith didn't think that Glowacki was getting up and frankly it was amazing to see Glowacki rise to his feet by the count of "eight." At that moment, Fields could've easily stopped the fight without facing any criticism. However, he took a firm look at Glowacki and let the fight continue. Lo and behold, by the end of the round, Glowacki landed some impressive shots and on my card he even took the next round.

I don't profess to be a master of the art of refereeing but clearly, there was something that Fields saw or knew about the fighter that indicated Glowacki was able to continue. Spitballing here, I guess that maybe 8 out of 10 refs would've stopped the bout and it's to Fields' credit that he let the fight progress. In addition to how he handled the knockdown, Fields did an admirable job of being in position at the bell to quickly contain some extracurricular punches after a few of the rounds. Warnings were issues and a tough fight didn't devolve into a contest marred by fouls.

It's far too coincidental that in my four-plus years of writing the Saturday Night Boxing blog, three of the four best referee jobs that I've seen were from New Jersey- or New York-based referees. (The others from NY/NJ were Steve Smoger in Cunningham-Mansour and Eddie Claudio in Quillin-N'Dam; Tony Weeks, not from that part of the country, gets the fourth slot for his work during Garcia-Matthysse.) Each boxing jurisdiction has its own character and the New Jersey-based Fields (who also often refs in New York) belongs in a grouping with several other New York/New Jersey referees who let fighters fight. I'd include Smoger, Claudio, Harvey Dock, Earl Brown, Benjy Esteves and the recently-retired Eddie Cotton into this fraternity.

I'm not saying that these are necessarily the absolute best at all phases of refereeing. However, each of them gives fighters a chance to recover in the ring. Their style of refereeing helps to create memorable outcomes. However, this approach can run the risk of being too laissez-faire. Consider Smoger's slow reaction time during the end of Roy Jones-Denis Lebedev or Esteves' handling of the infamous Magomed fight. (To be fair to Esteves, there were many contributing factors to what happened to Magomed.) By and large, this group performs ably. With them, boxers know that they will have a fair chance when under duress. I think that all fighters would appreciate that opportunity.  


Shawn Porter perplexes me. Over the years, I've struggled with evaluating his skills and prospects for the future. Why did he suddenly become a pressure fighter? What style would give him the best chance to win? Why does he neglect his boxing skills? These questions have confounded me. As a result, I've had a notoriously hard time picking winners to his fights; I've predicted his last four significant bouts incorrectly.

During his most recent fight against Adrien Broner, I believe that he turned a corner. To illustrate this point, let me use a tennis analogy. Against Kell Brook, Porter was a do-or-die serve-and-volleyer. Meaning, he was rushing in no matter the circumstance. In that fight, Brook was successful enough with his counters, whether they were straight right hands, left hooks, uppercuts or jabs, to thwart a lot of Porter's aggression. Porter was like John McEnroe (a diehard serve-and-volleyer) facing the ace return game of Andre Agassi. Lots of winners were expertly placed. Porter finally met a fighter whose shots were too good for his attack-only style.

Against Broner, Porter picked his opportunities for pressure more prudently. He boxed from mid-range and once he landed something of substance, then he rushed forward. In that fight, Porter reminded me more of Roger Federer's style. After Federer hits a great shot that puts his opponent at a disadvantage, then he charges the net. Porter came forward after Broner was already in an unfavorable position. Thus, his inside work was far more effective than it was against Brook, who had enough answers for Porter's undisciplined aggression. 

Yes, Brook may be a more versatile fighter than Broner is but Porter wasn't too far behind Brook in his only loss as a professional. I think that Porter's approach to Broner will ultimately be his best way forward at the top level of the sport. I have no way of knowing if Porter will successfully incorporate the experiences of these two fights into his next performance, but by being a little more patient, he gives himself a much better chance to beat quality fighters. 

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
@snboxing on twitter, SN Boxing on Facebook

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Carl Froch and Self-Belief

Slow, lumbering, repeatedly beaten to the punch, how the hell does Carl Froch have a world title? Jermain Taylor lands the right hand with ease – knocks him down with a hard shot in the third. Froch must be just another one of these "European" champions, skillfully maneuvered to a world title without being anything all that special. And Jermain Taylor just lost to Pavlik twice. He's no great shakes either anymore, but he's dominating! Froch has no skill! His footwork is atrocious! He's no better than a barroom brawler! I can't believe this guy has a title!  

But something changes. Froch doesn't fold after the early onslaught; he keeps coming. He's actually pressing forward seemingly undeterred. He goes to the body with combinations and finds a home for his long right hand. Slowly, the fight starts to turn. As Taylor begins his characteristic late-round fade, Froch comes on even stronger. Froch lands all sorts of sneaky and unconventional shots. His confidence seems to grow by the minute. He was just beaten to a pulp a few rounds ago and now he's charging forward! Who is this guy? It's the final round and Froch needs a knockout to win. He goes to work on Taylor, unloading as much as he can. He backs Taylor into a corner and unleashes a furious salvo. Taylor collapses like an accordion. The unthinkable just happened!

To most American boxing fans, this fight was their introduction to Carl Froch. He may not have been a technical marvel but what a fun fighter!

Building on his momentum from the Taylor victory, Froch entered Showtime's Super Six super middleweight tournament. With fighters such as Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Andre Ward participating, Froch wasn't expected to win. However, Froch, underestimated throughout his career, performed admirably. He first won a debatable decision at home in Nottingham over Andre Dirrell. It was an ugly bout that featured alternating periods of running (by Dirrell) and holding (by both). There were few authoritative punches that landed. I thought that Froch did enough to squeak by with the win but perhaps what was most telling to me was that Froch, probably the worst natural athlete in the tournament, fought the best one on even terms.

Froch next dropped a close decision in a war to Kessler, whose accuracy and combination punching were just a little better throughout the fight. Froch left the ring believing that he had won. After the defeat (his first), he offered a litany of complaints and perceived slights. However, losing a spirited fight to Kessler, long seen as one of the best of the division, didn't diminish his stature in the court of public opinion. 

His next outing was easily his best performance of the tournament. He comprehensively dominated Arthur Abraham. This time he evinced boxing skills that hadn't been a clear part of his earlier repertoire. Mastering distance, he kept to the outside, pumped the jab out repeatedly and used his legs to thwart Abraham's aggression. Here, Froch revealed that he wasn't just a mere slugger; he could think his way through a fight as well.

As the Super Six inexorably continued on – it turned out to be over a two-year commitment – participants started exiting in droves. Taylor left after a knockout loss to Abraham. Dirrell withdrew because of post-concussion symptoms and Kessler exited with shoulder and eye issues. Yet, Froch soldiered on. He put forward another solid performance against Glen Johnson (a replacement fighter in the tournament) by using the ring to nullify Johnson's straight-line movements. In the finals, he was outgunned by Ward but he probably won more rounds than any other of Ward's opponents.

By the end of the tournament, Froch had made his mark on the international boxing scene. Now aligned with promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport, he was ready to boost his profile back in his native England. Earlier in his career, he was often dismissed by the British press as crude or inconsequential, a fighter who paled in comparison to Joe Calzaghe and the other great British super middleweights; now he returned home as a fighter of significance.


There is a strand that runs through Carl Froch's career that helps explain his success and also why he's turned off his fair share of boxing fans (mostly from Britain). Call it extreme self-belief, arrogance, stubbornness, a lack of humility; take your pick. Early in his first championship reign, he constantly cajoled the newly-retired Joe Calzaghe, disparaging him, questioning his manhood and downplaying his accomplishments. Calzaghe retired as U.K. boxing royalty but Froch thought nothing of the Welshman's esteem in boxing circles. To him, Calzaghe – and everyone else – was on his level.

Froch (and perhaps only Froch) felt like he was destined for greatness. Not content with Mick Hennessy's promotional efforts early in his career, Froch placed a large amount of faith in Matchroom Boxing and Eddie Hearn's ability (and bankroll) to create stars. Froch felt that he belonged on England's grandest stages. He never forgot the disdain and contempt that the British media had for him early in his career, not to mention his difficulty in getting proper exposure on British TV. The effects of these slights never really left him and his sneer became even more pronounced as he graduated to larger venues. 

In the lead up to one of his George Groves fights, Froch referred to himself as "an international boxing superstar" and this pronouncement was mocked by many British boxing fans incessantly. However, the statement was completely true. But as Froch's status in the sport ascended, there was no corresponding rise in gratitude. He was still the bloke from Nottingham, the one who was dismissed and underestimated. 

As Froch started to become a regular commentator on Sky TV's boxing broadcasts, he disparaged potential rivals, regularly downplaying the achievements of a Groves or a James DeGale. In the build up to the first Groves fight, Froch seemed almost shocked that Groves shared the stage with him, that someone of Groves' level (however Froch perceived it) would be even worthy to fight him.

But Froch's self-belief paid off quite handily in the ring. He never believed that he was out of a fight. Get dropped early in a match, no problem. Take flush shots all night; no issue for him. Athletic or technical disadvantages, he's heard that story before. His internal fortitude brought him off of the canvas and snatched victories away from Taylor and Groves.

With supreme confidence in trainer Rob McCracken, Froch truly believed that the combination of his guts and McCracken's strategy created an unbeatable tandem (Ward may say otherwise, but hey, Froch competed). It's why he was certain that Groves was on his way out in the first fight and that the stoppage was just. His self-confidence helped corral difficult styles, fighters with more skills, power and athleticism. It helped him take down national heroes and hungry upstarts. (And I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Froch's self-belief helped land supermodel Rachael Cordingley. Clearly, Carl must have thought that grace was for suckers.)


Interestingly, Froch developed an almost cult-like following among many hardcore boxing fans in America. Perhaps his arrogance, grandiosity and occasional impish complaining seemed old hat for American audiences, who for decades had experienced that type of behavior from many of its star athletes.

In my opinion, Froch offended so many British fight fans because he violated their sense of sportsmanship. It seems to me that in the U.K. and Europe it is more culturally ingrained to be respectful of opponents than it is in America. After fights in Britain, the boxers are often interviewed side-by-side on the ring apron; they might as well be old chums. British fighters seem to pull for another far more than they do stateside. It's a much more collegial atmosphere. Yes, they might bash each other in the ring but afterwards a couple of pints could bury the hatchet. In Britain, a boxing match often resembles a contest. There is a winner and a loser. It's sporting. In America, the combatants perceive each fight as a life-or-death proposition (at least that's the attitude in the build-up to the event, the results in the ring may suggest otherwise). 

Perhaps America's capitalistic impulses, its social strife and/or its multi-cultural population forbid such a fraternal attitude. Although there is respect among boxers in the U.S. (especially after they retire), the cordiality rarely exists in the same proportion that it does in the U.K., and especially not near the ring. This is not a knock on either country (and there are certainly exceptions to be found on both sides of the Atlantic); however, I just wanted to point out a difference that I've observed. 

So Froch makes outlandish statements. So his ego seems out of control. So his self-love might make him a bit much. In America, we say, so what? We see that every day. It's not as if Froch is breaking laws or exhibiting repugnant behavior (the U.S. is probably more forgiving of its sporting stars in that area as well). At heart, Froch really isn't a bad person. He can be – to use British parlance for a minute – a knob, a blowhard, a bellend, a cunt or a throbber, but to Americans he's a true fighter. And we respect that.

Q. How do you beat a great pocket fighter?
A. Make sure that there's no pocket. 

Froch's most sublime moment in the ring occurred against Lucian Bute in 2012. Boxing in England for the first time in two-and-a-half years, Froch was a slight underdog against the undefeated champion from Canada. (It was a wonderfully shrewd maneuver by Eddie Hearn to convince Bute's team to travel abroad for the first of a proposed home-and-away series). From the opening bell, Froch dominated the fight in what was one of the best game plans that I have witnessed in covering the sport. McCracken and Froch completely neutralized all of Bute's advantages.

Froch remained either in or out the whole fight. This was not the right opponent for his jab. He started off rounds out of range, circling the ring and waiting patiently to make his move. He then would bullrush Bute behind slinging right hands and left hooks. Once Froch got in close, he battered Bute with body shots and short punches to the head. Bute had no ability to adapt to this style. And Froch, coached expertly on the fight's strategy, didn't just get in and get out. Once he was on the inside, he kept working and roughed up Bute whenever possible.

McCracken had done his homework. He saw that Bute was great at leading and bad at countering. Yes, if Bute was a precise counterpuncher, Froch, who rushed in almost completely exposed, would have been dead meat. However, McCracken observed this flaw in Bute's repertoire and exploited it. In addition, he noticed that Bute needed space to land all of his shots. Nothing from him was short. That's why Froch stayed at close range whenever possible. He was better protected there.

By the fifth round, Bute was helpless against the ropes and Froch was finally able to send him to the canvas. Shortly afterward, the fight was waved off. In true Froch fashion, he fought Bute with contempt, like he didn't even belong in the same ring with him. 

A lasting memory of the evening was Hearn's bear hug of Froch after the victory. Apparently, Froch had discussed a potential retirement with Hearn if he was unable to beat Bute. However, Froch's emphatic win cemented his status in the ring and also set up Hearn as the promoter for big events in Britain. It was an enormous night for both of them.

Fighting with far more respect in his next big outing, Froch essentially outworked Mikkel Kessler in their rematch. When Kessler threw, he probably landed better shots but Froch's volume and consistent effort won him the fight. Again, McCracken was masterful. He realized that Kessler needed to be exact with his punches. More specifically, Kessler didn't like missing and he wouldn't let his hands go until he had a solid opening; fortunately, Froch never had a problem with missing shots. The victory was a validation of Froch's self-belief. In his mind, he deserved to win their first fight and he finally had his proof. After the fight, Froch showed that he could be a sore winner as much as he had previously been a sore loser; he denied Kessler the opportunity of a trilogy match.

Froch's final two fights of his career were thrilling affairs against George Groves. Both bouts provided indelible images: Groves dropping Froch in the opening round of the first fight, the controversial stoppage in the first bout by Howard Foster and, in front of 80,000 fans in Wembley, Froch's final knockout blow in the rematch.

The finality of the second Groves fight masked a decline in Froch's capabilities in the ring. Groves certainly possessed athleticism but it wasn't like he was Roy Jones in the ring. Yet, there were huge disparities in hand speed and, more importantly, reflexes. Groves couldn't miss with the right hand in the opening rounds of their first fight. In both contests, Froch's defense was poor.  

Furthermore, their first bout was perhaps the only time where I believe that Froch and McCracken had underestimated an opponent and his corner. Leading up to the initial fight, Groves had left his trainer Adam Booth. Paddy Fitzpatrick took over the reins in the corner and where Booth almost always relied on subterfuge, cleverness and cunning, Fitzpatrick went for shock. Instead of using his boxing skills and superior foot speed, Groves attacked Froch with crushing lead and counter right hands. Not only was Froch unprepared for that type of fight, he also seemed overmatched by Groves' power and speed. He was dominated in the early rounds.

Ultimately, Froch won both fights by guile, experience and intelligence. Froch's body work in the middle rounds of the first fight had a tremendous effect on Groves. Over time, Groves lost much of his foot speed and his defensive concentration started to wane. Yes, the ending was premature but Froch was causing serious damage at that point in the match. The tide had turned. In the rematch, they fought on even terms until the eighth round. There, Froch threw a three-punch combination that ended things. He pawed with a straight right hand (intending to miss with it), then went with a half-speed left hook to the body and then finished the combination with a thunderous right hand. Groves hit the canvas – and it was over.

The final victory spoke to Froch's savvy in the ring. He noticed that Groves' defense was getting sloppy as fatigue set in. Groves no longer moved his hands fast enough to protect himself. The whole sequence was designed to land that final shot.

After the fight, Froch scanned the adoring crowd at Wembley Stadium and one could practically feel the enormity of the moment hitting him. Here was his crowning achievement. Finally, he was the acknowledged master of British boxing. There was no longer any resistance, no further mountains to climb. He had made it to the pinnacle; where he felt he had belonged all this time. The world had finally caught up with him.


As the high of that evening in Wembley finally dissipated, it was time for Froch to figure out what to do with his career: retire or keep fighting. Although the Groves rematch ended with a resounding victory, I'm sure that Froch picked up on some subtle cues from those two bouts. He was hit a lot and that first knockdown came fast and hard. In addition, how many comebacks did he really still have in him? 

Although Froch can be extremely arrogant, he is an excellent student of the sport and fight analyst. The writing was on the wall. For him, the timing was right for an exit. He would have no sweeter victory than Wembley. Walking away from potentially millions of dollars, Froch instead chose to leave the sport with all of his faculties intact. 

In my experience with highly arrogant people, what they hate the most is to be embarrassed. Their heightened sense of self-regard abhors humility or an acknowledgement of weakness. In this context, Froch's retirement makes perfect sense and I doubt that we'll see a comeback. So Froch leaves the sport without the public seeing him struggle with the athleticism of James DeGale or the power of Gennady Golovkin. Instead, his final boxing image is an opponent supine on the canvas, his own hand raised in glory and a crowd adoring him. Any other ending could be too painful.

But despite whatever personal foibles that diminished his likability, Froch was a must-see fighter. I had the pleasure of attending two of his bouts in Atlantic City (a win against Glen Johnson and a loss to Andre Ward). I learned a lot about Froch by watching him live. He was far more than the sum of his parts, he was certainly more intelligent than given credit for and he never stopped trying in the ring. Oh yeah, he was pretty damn talented too. 

Froch may exit the sport with his share of haters and admonishers but even all but the craziest of them would grudgingly acknowledge his accomplishments in the ring. He provided thrills and entertainment, not to mention spectacular copy. He helped raise Britain out of its boxing slumber and reminded it of how large the sport could be. Froch was an outsized personality in a boxing scene that was often composed of unassuming, nice blokes from the corner gym. Froch didn't see himself as a Hatton figure who was just one of the guys. He was an attraction, a star. By the time he retired, he was proven correct. Every statement of his was dissected by British boxing fans and used as fodder to propel social media discussion. British boxing was eating out of the palm of his hand and he was without rival as the U.K.'s number-one boxing attraction. Froch envisioned such realities for himself many years earlier but now it had finally, and indisputably, come to pass. 

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
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