Carl Froch rocked the layers with his against the odds defeat of Lucian Bute and they're taking no chances this time round, with the unheralded Yusaf Mack in town. Alex Steedman can't find any reason to argue with the betting and fancies the home crowd to cheer a no nonsense win
Carl Froch is the nearest thing to a gloved-up, fighting machine. He counts every press-up, logs each sprint and records all training sessions in a warrior's diary. So having toughed his way through eight successive World Title fights, boxing's man of iron gets a break of sorts on Saturday when he faces the very beatable Yusaf Mack.
The odds tell the very story of this fight; Froch (1.051/20) is not just expected to beat Mack (18.017/1) but on the back of his demolition job of Lucian Bute in May, he's fancied to do it looking good.
Remember that many pundits, including me, tipped against 'The Cobra' that night but he produced the performance of his life with his career on the line. There isn't the same pressure this time around - neither because of the occasion or from his opponent - but at 35, Froch can't afford any slip-ups and there is a sense of expectation now.
Not for one second do I think that Froch will underestimate Mack or take this fight lightly, he's the king of preparation and there is simply too much to lose. There is talk of a rematch with Bute next (personally I'd be surprised if he wants Carl again) as well as a revenge mission against old foe Mikkel Kessler, so Froch is on the cusp of big money deals at the last, perhaps most important stage of his career. Boxers need motivation and Froch has carrots but it's in the nature of 'The Cobra' to be in shape and ready to fight.
There is a possibility that we over-regarded Bute, that Froch's win isn't quite as good as it looked but the Brit never gave Bute a sniff and I was impressed by the technical and tactical changes in him on the back of defeat to Andre Ward. Froch threw clusters of punches coming forward so it was more difficult to be countered or picked off; if he missed with the first punch there was a something else on the way. Bute couldn't handle that, I'm not sure many others bar Ward could either but subtlety won't be required this time around.
So what of Yusaf Mack? The American hails from the city famous for brotherly love which is funny because Philadelphia has produced some of boxing's hardest men. Mack fits the mold and he matches up well physically with Froch but he has been beaten four times and stopped in each of those. Among the losses, Mack was stopped by Glen Johnson (beaten by Froch on points) and Librado Andrade (beaten on points and in four rounds by Bute) so he's a level or two below Froch and has been found wanting in championship fights.
The fact that Mack has spent much of his career at Light-Heavyweight means he's tough and durable enough but that's at a certain level. I think he's a little out of his depth here, though he deserves his chance.
More significantly, Mack is a fighter and he'll have a go, but that attitude will play into the hands of Froch. This fight reminds me a little of when Joe Calzaghe fought Byron Mitchell in 2002 and the tough American put the Welsh champion down in the first round for the first time in his career. A dazed Calzaghe got back up to hammer Mitchell in two rounds. This could be thrilling while it lasts and Mack can help make it so but the power and class of Froch will tell in the end.
Mack has been stopped between rounds six and eight in those four stoppage losses while Froch had gone the distance in six out of seven title fights leading up to the blitzkrieg of Bute and his other knock-out win over Jermain Taylor was 14 seconds from the final bell. The message being that Froch, despite his undoubted power, has struggled at top level to pin opponents down. That is not an issue here and I sense this could turn into a gun-fight and that is a battle Froch will win.
Predicting the round isn't easy and I don't think Froch will come out with the same career-on-the-line intensity as he did against Bute but he still out to be in for an early night.
Backing Froch to win by stoppage through rounds five (10.09/1), six (10.09/1), seven (11.010/1) and eight (11.010/1) looks a fair call though it could be over quickly if Mack comes out swinging. He makes mistakes and Froch will punish those. Either way it should be fun to watch as Froch sets up the last few big gigs of an old school career.
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