Boxing trainer Robert McCracken recently appeared on the 194th edition of "On The Ropes" to discuss the future of one of the sports biggest stars, Carl Froch. McCracken has served as the head trainer of Froch since he started off his professional career and has led "The Cobra" to a world Championship belt 3 times at Super Middleweight. Robert discusses a potential Ward-Froch rematch, and why he thinks a second fight will play out different than the first. He also talks about Froch's last fight, and possible bout against George Groves. In addition to discussing Froch's future, McCracken speaks on the current boxing scene, and gives his thoughts on the upcoming Mayweather-Canelo fight. Here is what Robert McCracken had to say.
Jenna J: Were you surprised like many people were of how easily Gennady Golovkin took care of Macklin in the fight?
Robert McCracken: He was very impressive, Golovkin, he looked a real good fighter, a good boxer and a good puncher. He looks a real good fighter. I was surprised of course, because Macklin's done really well as a middleweight. I thought Macklin was a comfortable winner over Felix Sturm so I though Macklin should of been champion a couple of years ago. I thought he definitely beat Felix Sturm, I thought that was a bad decision, but he went on and gave a good account of himself against Sergio Martinez, who is obviously a very good fighter, Sergio. Macklin performed really well and had his moments on the night, but you know, every now an then you come up against someone in boxing who's just too good for you, and that's basically what happened on the night. Golovkin was just too good for Matthew, but you've got to feel for Macklin, like I say, a lot of us felt he beat Sturm a couple of years ago.
Jenna J: Robert, I've just got to ask you this being the fact that you are a former middleweight fighter yourself and fought for a title. What do you think of Golovkin in terms of middleweight and the guys that you've seen?
Robert McCracken: He looks a real good middleweight, he's probably the most impressive at the moment, you know after that performance the other night, but at the same time there's some real good middleweights out there. Sergio Martinez is really proven, he's a top level fighter, excellent fighter Martinez. You have Peter Quillin, who's a real good middleweight and a top prospect, he's done a lot of sparring with Carl Froch in the past, so Quillin's a real middleweight to be reckoned with. Then you have some outstanding middleweights coming through in Europe, Darren Barker, who's fighting Daniel Geale, Geale holds the title, and Darren Barker's going in with him, so Barker's a good prospect, and it’s early days for Geale in his championship reign so we'll see how good a fighter Geale is after he fights Barker, which will be a very tough fight. Obviously there's other fighters coming through, Martin Murray gave Sergio Martinez all the trouble he could handle recently in Argentina, so Martin Murray and Darren Barker are certainly hot on the heels of the champions. Golovkin at the moment, on paper looks the most impressive.
Jenna J: After that fight, they started mentioning Golovkin's name with a fighter that you work with, Carl Froch, saying that fight could happen somewhere down the line. Would you like to see that happen?
Robert McCracken: Yeah, for sure, he's a huge prospect Golovkin. He's looked good, he's a champion now, he looked real good the other night. Obviously Carl, who I’ve worked with for twelve or thirteen years now, he's a real established elite fighter, he's WBA and IBF champion at the moment, he's also won the WBC title twice in his past reigns. He's only come up short in his career against Andre Ward, where he's fought the best time and time again. Back in 2008, Carl fought Jean Pascal and ever since then he's fought the best out there. Froch is an awesome fighter and he's a super middleweight champion, obviously there's Andre Ward who's an outstanding fighter and the only fighter that's got the better of Carl Froch. There's some real tough fights at 168 for anybody, but obviously Golovkin's pretty much brand new in his role as champion at middleweight. I'm sure they will take their time and look to box matches at middleweight for the time being but no doubt about it, it would be a great fight, and one we’re interested in.
Jenna J: Before I talk a little bit about Carl Froch, I want to take about yourself as a trainer. Obviously many people know you were a former fighter and British champion and you had your world title shot. What made you want to transition into training, what made you make that choice?
Robert McCracken: I love the sport of boxing, it’s something I really enjoy. I wanted to be involved in the sport, I didn't really want to go and work, so I've worked with fighters for quite a while now, the past thirteen years. It's something I really enjoy doing and it’s great to be working with some real good fighters and bringing them through. I look after the Olympic team over here, so we've had a real good four years, and we did really well in London. Boxing's on a high over here in the UK, we have some tremendous pro's and a great amateur squad over here.
Jenna J: Robert, you mentioned you've been working with Carl Froch for thirteen years now. How did you come to work with Carl in the first place?
Robert McCracken: I met Carl back in 2001 I think it was, in Ireland at the world championships, where he won a medal, and it kind of went from there. Carl used to come down to me in London, where I was training fighters and he came and went for a few months and then he decided he was gonna have a go. He wasn't sure about turning professional and it took him about eight or nine months before he actually decided to turn pro, and it’s just went from there. It’s quite a good story really, because at one stage he wasn't going to turn professional, he was going to quit boxing, but thankfully for me and everybody, he went into professional boxing and he's been a credit to Britain in professional boxing, he's been a tremendous fighter.
Jenna J: He's certainly accomplished a lot and as you say he's avenged all but one loss in his career. When I got to speak with Carl Froch in my last show, he mentioned about having that fight with Andre Ward but under only one condition really, that if the fight can happen in the UK. Do you think as his trainer that the fight has to happen in the UK for there to be a rematch?
Robert McCracken: Well, not really, obviously we would like it in the UK, Carl boxed Ward a while ago in the US and Ward was the better man on the night and won the fight fair and square. We would like to fight in the UK, Carl Froch is formidable in the UK. It's always a little tougher away from home, you've not got your home comforts and stuff, but of course it’s a fight that’s possible at Las Vegas without a doubt. If we could have it in the UK I think that would be great because they've already fought once in the US, but no doubt about it they are both top quality fighters and Ward has a win over Carl which is on record and that makes Ward what he is at the moment, a tremendous fighter.
Jenna J: Carl will be turning thirty six very shortly, and there has been talk of how long can he fight at a high level, but as far as I've seen with his development, it seems like he's getting better with age. Do you think he is?
Robert McCracken: Yeah, for sure. He's learned from his mistakes. He's beaten Lucian Bute, and Mikkel Kessler since he boxed Andre Ward, and when he boxed Bute he was a big underdog and people were claiming Bute was the best super middleweight in the world above Carl Froch and obviously Andre Ward. He had a great win against Bute and against Kessler recently, and I think if you look at the form Carl's been in since he fought Ward, beating Kessler and Bute, you would think, yeah, he's improved as he's got more experience at the elite level. For sure, he's a smarter fighter than he was three or four years ago.
Jenna J: Robert, you mentioned the Kessler fight. What do you feel was the difference between the first and the second fight, besides the three years between them?
Robert McCracken: I think Kessler fought magnificently in the first fight, it's on paper and it’s a fact that there were real problems going into the fight for us with Carl, the fight was off for three or four days leading up to it and then it was brought on at the last minute. There was lots of problems and Carl wasn't in the right frame of mind, it was still a close fight and a great fight and Kessler is a tremendous fighter. We felt Carl was the better fighter and we felt that would show if they boxed again, and Kessler the fighter that he is, came to the UK and put on a magnificent show and he's a great fighter. We feel Carl is the better fighter and that was evident in London on May the 25th. They are both two tremendous fighters, but we feel Carl is the better fighter.
Jenna J: Recently it was announced that the IBF is ordering a fight between Carl Froch and George Groves, and Carl originally wanted to pursue a third fight with Kessler. Do you think Carl is going to keep his title belt and then defend it against George Groves?
Robert McCracken: Well, Carl will fight anybody you know, time and time again he's fought the very best in the world, since he fought Jean Pascal it’s been a who's who of boxing. He fights anybody, he has no qualms or issues over fighting anybody, and that's been shown time and time again with him. I kind of think it’s one of those situations where I've kind of looked at the IBF rankings and I know Edwin Rodriguez who sparred with Carl, he's a real good fighter and he's committed to a fight I think. Oosthuizen boxed the other night against Gonzales and they fought a draw, and I think Bute is injured. That's the top four, and then by default it comes to Groves and I think funnily enough James DeGale was next in line so it's Groves and the DeGale. I think it’s four or so many fighters are not available, Groves certainly isn't the mandatory, he's became the mandatory by the look of it by four fighters not being eligible at this stage for the fight or for the mandatory position.
Jenna J: If that fight were to happen between Groves and Froch, how do you think Carl would handle Grove's style?
Robert McCracken: Well, Carl Froch is an elite fighter and he's shown that time and time again, Groves is pretty inexperienced, he doesn't have any real names on his record other than Glen Johnson, who in all fairness to him, was in the twilight of his career. Carl will deal with the fight as he would deal with any other fight, he will take it seriously, he will prepare properly and he will consider that he's being challenged and he's up against somebody who's hungry and wants to try and take what he's got off him. What I will say is that Carl will be one hundred percent professional if that fight goes ahead if George Groves is put forward for his next opponent. There's two or three options at the minute and I've spoken to Carl and Eddie Hearn the promoter, so we’re just going through them and we will know exactly in the next few days where we’re at and if it’s possible that Groves could be the next opponent, but we have to get it to work and to plan and to see if they want the fight as well.
Jenna J: I mentioned before about Andre Ward and there are a lot of people who want to see that fight because these two guys are clearly the best at super middleweight. As a trainer, and I know you don't want to give too much away, what would you do differently in the rematch?
Robert McCracken: I think I come slightly from a different angle from a lot of people, I'm very proud of what Carl Froch has achieved in his career and the level of opposition he's beaten time and time again. There's that one blip against Andre Ward, who's an outstanding boxer. Carl went into the fight and he wasn't in the right frame of mind, he wasn't happy about a few things, he went in not in the right mood and he lost fair and square on the night, and there is no argument with that, Ward boxed tremendously well. If the fight were to happen again, would Carl Froch come in differently, I think that's been shown against Bute, and against Kessler. He doesn't make the same mistake twice Froch, and for sure he will come in and we will have a better game plan than the one we had in place. the game plan that we had in the last fight but Carl wasn't able to carry it out on the night because Ward was very good. We'll put things in place if that fight takes place, and I know Ward won the fight so I know a lot of people will think that Ward will win it again, but that's why there are twenty thousand people at fights, and that’s why you get big attendances in boxing because nobody ever really knows who's gonna win the fight until its over, and anything can happen in there. Carl Froch is an elite fighter, he's got good power, he's got good reach and range and he can really fight. It would be a great fight and we’re confident with Carl against anybody he's in with at the moment.
Jenna J: When I talked to Carl, I talked about the all time great British fighters, and where he believes he is at himself with all these wins and winning all these titles, you know history and the fighters that have came out of Britain. Can you tell me where you think Carl ranks among the all time British fighters right now?
Robert McCracken: He's been a tremendous fighter Carl Froch and there's been few fighters who have fought the level of opposition he has fought back to back, no doubt about it Carl's had a tremendous career up to this stage and he's been brilliant. I'd like to look at his career when it’ over, I think he'll be appreciated over here like most fighters generally are. Froch is right up there with the very best, he's been a tremendous British fighter and the reality is other than losing to Ward, his record stands up to any other. He's been a great fighter, but of course we have produced some top fighters and some absolutely brilliant fighters have come from here as they have come from the states too. It's difficult when you start talking about fighters past and present, I tend to just think of the here and now and in Carl's era and who's around, he's right up there with anybody in this generation no doubt about it.
Jenna J: Speaking with fighters who are right up there with anybody, Floyd Mayweather Jr, he has a fight coming up in September. A lot of people are talking him and Canelo Alvarez. Just curious who is your favorite in that match up to win?
Robert McCracken: I think Mayweather will win. I think Mayweather is a tremendous athlete and a master boxer. I think he will be too good for Alvarez. Alvarez is the bigger man and has good power but you know, he's highly experienced Mayweather, he's been in with a who's who in boxing and he's always come out on top. I think like anybody, eventually somebody gets beat because they go on too long and they go to the well to often. I think he's fresh enough Mayweather, he's active enough, so I think Alvarez will put up a good fight but I think he'll be out boxed, I really do, I think he'll be out boxed.
Jenna J: You mentioned fighters know when its over, I must ask you, with Carl, he's been getting up there in age, do you think there may ever be a point where you yourself would have to actually sit Carl down and say you know what Carl, I'm seeing a bit of decline, it’s better to stop too soon, than too late?
Robert McCracken: Well, he's obviously in the form of his career and he's improved of late, and he's learnt a lot from the fights he's had. He's thirty five, he enjoys what he does, we’re the best of friends, I've always told him I'll give him a tap on the shoulder and go and enjoy your life, because he's been tremendously and he has plenty of money, he's got a great house, a great family, a great business and stuff. At the moment he's enjoying himself too much and in the form of his career, he wants a few more fights but you know, I'm his mate, so we'll look at each fight. He's a smart guy, I'll be the first to tap him on the shoulder and say you know something, you've done your bit, go and enjoy it, but I don't think we’re quite there at this stage.
Jenna J: There's one fight in regard to Carl that I actually haven't mentioned to you, and that would be a potential rematch with Lucian Bute. A lot of people have been counting Lucian out since the loss to Carl, saying that he'll never be the same fighter again. I'm curious when do you think people should be counting him out and also do you think that Lucian does have any interest in having that rematch with Carl?
Robert McCracken: I don't know really, he's a gentleman Lucian Bute, he's a tremendous fighter. I think people's memories disappear going into the Froch/Bute fight, Bute was doing fantastically well. I think he had stopped nine of eleven world title defenses, and he'd beaten some pretty good fighters, but obviously Carl beat him on the night and was the better man on the night but, Bute has only lost once and we live in this crazy time where if you have one loss, people start writing you off, its crazy. He lost to Carl of course he did but you look back at some of the great fighters who were beaten, and in some cases beaten early in fights, they came back and went on to achieve great things. I love boxing, I'm a bit of a historian about it and it saddens me that there is a certain thought out there that if you lose a boxing match, you’re finished or you’re not very good, it’s crazy.
Look at Ray Robinson's, great fighters who were all beaten because they fought the best time and time again. Maybe because we don't have the best fighting the best time and time again, and there's a view that if you lose a fight you were no good anyway or you’re washed up. I kind of think that he ran into the better fighter on the night. If he re-groups and comes back with a bit more thought to what he is doing then I have no doubt he can come back and get to the top again, Mr. Bute. But for now, from where we’re sitting, Carl's at the top and obviously Ward's up there with him and it's interesting to see how this unfolds, but at the same time you mentioned challenges out there and there will be challenges out there for all these fighters. Carl will have challengers, Golovkin who you mentioned earlier and also Andre Ward who's sitting pretty at the moment, he will have challenges from the likes of Carl Froch and also challenges from Ward and Golovkin so it's fascinating stuff. It kind of makes me laugh when people talk about fighters who have lost a fight as if it’s a crime, like I say with Robinson and the likes who fought the best time and time again, then your going to lose, you won’t win every bout.
Jenna J: Robert, I have one final question for you, there are a lot of fans out there who are enjoying this interview right now. Is there anything you want to pass on to them?
Robert McCracken: I just hope they all enjoy Carl's Froch's performances when he fights, he gives it one hundred percent, he cares about the fans, he wants to entertain and he loves boxing. I think he's been a credit to British boxing and I hope he's been a credit to the world of boxing. Hopefully they will enjoy him for a bit more, he's got a few more fights in him yet, and then he'll bow out at the very top for sure.
To listen to the latest edition of “ON THE ROPES” featuring exclusive interview with Paulie Malignaggi, Robert McCracken and Brandon Gonzales, just click the black player directly below.