In a Thriller - Carl Froch defeats Jermain Taylor
By Daniel Cann (April 27, 2009) (Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)  
MGM Grand Foxwoods, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA - In one of the most thrilling fights in recent memory, Nottingham’s Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch made the first defence of his hard-won WBC World Super – Middleweight title against former Undisputed World Middleweight Champion Jermain ‘Bad Intention’s’ Taylor.

This was the big one for the English fighter he had to win this fight to move on to greater things. Screened live on Showtime in America, on the web and later on ITV4 in Britain there was plenty of exposure on the World stage (it would have been nice for one of the British networks to show this one live as well, but things are never perfect are they?) The stakes could not be higher.

Froch had a daunting task ahead of him boxing at the MGM Grand Foxwoods in Mashantucket. He was a long way from home. The casino had an intimate atmosphere and was nearly full to capacity with a crowd of 3,726 in attendance nearly all of whom were loudly vocal in their support for the home fighter, Taylor. Boos rang out as Froch was introduced to the crowd and he looked unusually tense and uncomfortable, understandable in this pressure cauldron. In marked contrast, Taylor looked loose and relaxed, confident to the point of arrogance. Any neutral observer could be forgiven for thinking Taylor was the champion and Froch the challenger.

The fight began to raucous and partisan chants of ‘USA! USA!’ Welcome to the big time Carl! In the opening moments Froch looked tentative as Taylor landed some impressively fast jabs and hooks. The challenger already looked dangerous and underlined his class as he managed to land two very quickly delivered right hands that must have surprised and unsettled the defending champion. Froch did begin to get his jab going but he still looked stiff and needed to warm up fast. It was a great start for Taylor as he picked off Froch with relative ease.

The second saw the American quicker off the mark again as he landed more leather. Froch in contrast was probing with the jab rather than putting any snap into it. Taylor at this point looked so much more the sharper and his speed was a worry as he effortlessly landed jabs and a classy uppercut inside. At last Froch caught Taylor with a good hook, which must have heartened him. It was noticeable however that the champion was struggling to get into a rhythm. He seemed to be getting into the fight late in the round as he landed a good one-two combination and a lovely right hand to remind Taylor he was in with a worthy adversary. In the last ten seconds or so of the second they both exploded into action, Taylor showing that he was not afraid to mix it with the natural Super – Middleweight. An ominous warning for Froch.

Between rounds Froch’s trainer and chief second Robert McKracken urged his man to ‘Be busier!’ The third began with Froch jabbing, he had more success earlier in this round scoring with jabs, a left hook and even an uppercut. It looked like he had finally got into the swing of things, although Taylor seemed untroubled by the champion’s work.

Suddenly a fantastic right hook from Taylor nailed Froch; the disparity in speed and accuracy was clearly evident. Froch looked off balance and out of sorts as another powerful right, an uppercut and a left hook belted him again. Froch was staggering and looked unsteady as another big right crashed home followed by a left right combination that sent him crashing to the canvas for the first time in his career (amateur or pro). Fortunately he seemed in charge of his senses although clearly shaken. He wisely took the eight count and got to his feet with about half a minute of the round remaining. Froch showed what a warrior he is as he fired back but he looked wide open and ragged, it was a reckless tactic and he walked onto more lightning fast punches from a fired up Taylor. The round ended with chants of ‘USA! USA!’ reverberating around the casino.

Froch began the fourth well as he launched a two-fisted assault. His legs still looked a little wobbly but you could not fault his raw courage and toughness. To show he was still a huge threat Taylor just missed with a fast right. Froch, has a quirk in his style where he always carries his left hand low, Taylor was exactly the right kind of opponent to expose this flaw and he repeatedly made Froch pay. The round was much quieter than the last and they traded jabs. Froch closed the round with a good one – two but got caught with a fast left uppercut from Taylor. Froch’s workrate did enough to take the round on my card and he made the bigger point of seemingly fully recovering from the knockdown in the previous round. He was showing a champion’s heart.

The fifth saw both trading jabs again. Froch managed to get through with a decent body shot. He needed more of these to slow the American down. Taylor still looked loose and fast and every time he landed a counter he looked dangerous. Froch was growing in confidence however as he landed a jab and a right hook. The crowd were firmly with the challenger and although Froch was getting back into the fight the impetuous was still with Taylor you felt.

Nothing that Froch had done up to this point had troubled the man from Little Rock and Taylor exuded calm and confidence as he looked to slip and counter. There was a bit of action after the bell, and the men returned to their corners with Froch looking wary and Taylor unmarked and untroubled.

The sixth showed the dogged Froch continuing to go forward jabbing and mixing to the body but despite his efforts he was still getting picked off with fast counters from Taylor. Taylor landed a fast combination to the delight of the crowd, but for the first time Froch came right back with a great right hand of his own. There was less coming from Taylor with each passing round and Froch was getting busier. He still had a mountain to climb but there were finally signs of encouragement for the Englishman. Taylor got through with a stiff jab but Froch responded with a good right through the challenger’s high guard. Taylor landed an overhand right and Froch responded with a jab. It was finally evident that Froch was holding his own, yes he was getting tagged, yes Taylor’s work was the sharper and more accurate, but Froch’s pressure was reaping dividends as well.

The good work for the champion continues in the seventh as he landed an overhand right of his own. The champion was catching the slowing challenger with greater frequency now. Taylor doubled his jab and still looked classy but it was all in spurts and not for the full three minutes. Was he saving himself or, was he like in previous fights, beginning to feel the pace?

Froch was jabbing as well, no doubt listening to the sound advice from McKracken to ‘work off the jab.’ Halfway through the round Froch let both hands go and got repaid with a snappy left from Taylor. Although spirited Froch’s attacks looked uncoordinated whereas Taylor continued to look composed, despite less work coming from him. Again through sheer workrate alone I gave the round to the champion.

The eighth continued to see Froch getting success with one-twos and punches to head and body. It was nothing spectacular but he was scoring points and evening things up. There was more aggression coming from Froch as he landed a decent left and blinked after taking a counter from Taylor. ‘The Cobra’ continued his steady but unspectacular work and scored with a right hand as he pressed forward.

A great right hand from the champion and a left caught Taylor to close the round and Froch for me had taken another round. Taylor was either taking a breather or was running out of gas, he had not done much at all in the round.

Between rounds McKracken was the most animated I have ever seen him as he implored Froch to keep working and stay busy, perhaps wary that it would be much harder to win a decision in America. This was my feeling too; although Froch was piling up some points at last he was not dominating or overwhelming the challenger and you felt he had to do something special to win over the judges.

The ninth was business as usual with Froch moving forward and Taylor’s footwork keeping him out of trouble most of the time. Froch just did not seem able to solve the conundrum that was Taylor’s style. With each exchange between the two Taylor seemed to pay any success of the champion back with interest. His punches just seemed that much more sharper and classier, as well as potent.

At one point in the round Taylor showed open contempt for Froch’s work as he shook his head. Froch continued to try to press forward but Taylor landed with a snappy jab and seemed to do enough to take the round comfortably.

There was a real feeling of crisis emerging from the Froch camp. Yes he had fought back well from the brink earlier in the fight and he had taken his share of the middle rounds but he was away from home and with his back against the wall he really needed to produce something special. Taylor seemed to be enjoying himself and appeared completely unconcerned with anything thrown at him so far.

Froch must have known this better than anyone else and he began the tenth with purpose as he launched a two fisted assault. About a minute into the round he seemed to ease off, perhaps understandably feeling the pace. He needed to really jump on the challenger and not let him breathe, but he seemed incapable of this. He was really trying his best and showing a lot of heart and determination but Taylor was so slippery.

Froch was aggressive in spurts but Taylor made him pay once again with classy counters and a flashy jab. Another fast overhand right crashed against Froch’s unprotected head. Froch responded with a right of his own but it was yet another round in the bank for the American.

Froch began the eleventh well with a fantastic right and he shortly got through with another one. He was really sustaining the action at last as he had more success with a jab and a right. He was busier than Taylor and even tried an uppercut a punch he usually uses with success but was just short with it here against Taylor.

Froch kept up the pressure in this round with more good work on the inside. Taylor proved he was still a threat with a classy right; he just could not miss with this punch. Froch responded with hooks and uppercuts and did not flinch. He dug his heels in and kept working. There was real purpose from him this round, he knew what was at stake and no doubt felt the title slipping away from him. Taylor landed another flashy right but Froch responded well with a left hook.

Halfway through they both slugged it out much to the delight of the crowd. Froch muscled Taylor into a corner but the classy American showed deft footwork as he turned his man and floated out of danger. Again the round ended with the question: did you go for Froch’s doggedness and pressure or the more eye-catching stuff from Taylor?

No one knew better in the casino than Carl Froch coming out for the last round that he needed to do something amazing to snatch victory. On my card he was down by two points. The judges from Canada, Mexico and Japan could be swayed by the crowd as well as the great early work and knockdown from Taylor. They all had Taylor ahead, two of them by as much as four points. Froch had no option but to go for broke, he had to stop or knock out his man. So far the evidence from the previous eleven rounds pointed to him being unable to achieve this lofty ambition. I was poised to write a report praising Froch’s courage and determination but ultimately being outclassed by Taylor, however, events were to revise all that….

Froch began with a jab and a right; he was caught with a sharp right counter for his troubles by the challenger. Not looking good for the Nottingham boxer so far. Froch got through with a one – two and he pressed forward. Notably there was no counter from Taylor this time.

Another right hand crashed past Taylor’s defence and suddenly his legs turned to rubber! Another right found its mark and Froch surged ahead letting shots go from both hands. Taylor looked very tired as well as dazed. As the American reeled around the ring on unsteady legs Froch pursued him showing real venom (living up to his nickname ‘The Cobra’) and he poured on the punishment, determined to finally put his tormentor away and save his title.

It was pulsating, dramatic stuff which even a Hollywood screenwriter would have blushed to write but amazingly, inconceivably Froch was there pounding away and Taylor who had looked so cool and in charge for most of the fight now looked in disarray. Taylor gamely tried to come back but the tank was empty and a huge right hand sent the Arkansas fighter crashing to the canvas on his back looking finished. He was up at ‘nine’ after what seemed a suspiciously ‘long count’ from referee Michael Ortega who gave Taylor every opportunity to get back into the contest. With the clock ticking away and the round almost over Froch was like a dervish as he sent Taylor into the ropes and hammered him there without response for several seconds. Taylor was clearly in distress and he closed his eyes tightly shut as the devastating punches crashed against his unprotected head. Suddenly Ortega was jumping between them and pulling Froch off the spent Taylor. It was over! In the most dramatic fashion!

The referees’ stoppage was announced as 2 minutes 46 seconds of the last round. So Froch had saved his title at the last gasp. The crowd around ringside were shocked, Taylor cut a forlorn figure and Froch and his team were rightly exuberant. It was one of the most dramatic and unexpected endings to a World title fight seen in a long time. Just when he needed to Froch closed the show in style. He showed he had a champion’s heart by getting up off the canvas to win and took his knocks in gaining victory.

Taylor was sporting in defeat and probably still in shock at the outcome. He asked for a rematch and Froch said that would be no problem, although that seems unlikely for now. Froch called out retired former champion Joe Calzaghe but again I would be surprised if the Welshman does come back. More likely will be fights with other champions Bute and Kessler. For now Froch can bask in the glory of yet another hard-earned victory. And what a victory! He has arrived in America as a major force and as a fighter who cannot be written off right up until the last bell has sounded. Marvellous!

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