Froch flying high ahead of Dirrell clash

Updated: October 16, 2009, 1:47 PM ET

Froch filled with confidence

If Carl Froch could win fights based simply on confidence, he might wear his super middleweight world title for many years to come.

To listen to Froch talk, you'd think he could knock out a dinosaur or a rhino if he ever tangled with one of them -- or both! -- in a ring.

And why shouldn't Froch, nicknamed "The Cobra," have confidence?

In the past 10 months, the 32-year-old Brit has beaten Jean Pascal -- who would go on to win a light heavyweight title -- in a rough, toe-to-toe slugfest, and knocked out Jermain Taylor, the former undisputed middleweight champion, in a glorious comeback.

Froch (25-0, 20 KOs) has a perfect record, a tremendous chin, good power and the notion that he can't be beaten.

That's the mindset Froch will take into the ring when he defends his 168-pound belt for the second time at the Trent FM Arena in his hometown of Nottingham, England, against American Andre Dirrell (18-0, 13 KOs) on Saturday night (Showtime, 8 ET/PT). The fight is a first-round bout in the Super Six World Boxing Classic, the modified round-robin tournament involving six elite super middleweights.

"I'm a consummate professional," Froch said. "I've been in the trenches more than once and I've come out on top. I'm an undefeated professional with an excellent knockout ratio. Being that I'm fighting in my hometown just makes my job a whole lot easier.

"You know I'm a big puncher. My record speaks for itself. If I get anyone, and not just Andre Dirrell, in the position where they're down and they're hurt, I'm one of the best finishers in the business."

In the opening fight of the 12-bout, 18-month tournament -- and the opening bout of Showtime's telecast on same-day tape from Berlin -- former middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham (30-0, 24 KOs) moves up to super middleweight to face Taylor (28-3-1, 17 KOs).

It is the victory against Taylor that is largely responsible for Froch's belief that he can do anything in the ring, no matter how deep a hole he may be in.

In April, Froch and promoter Mick Hennessy rolled the dice and took the risk of coming to the United States for the fight with Taylor, and it paid off handsomely, even though it was nearly a disaster.

In the fight, Froch was dropped for the first time in his career (pro or amateur) in the third round, and Taylor was on his way to a split-decision victory. He led by four points on two scorecards going into the 12th round but was running out of steam. Froch, in superb condition, took advantage and scored a punishing knockout with a mere 14 seconds to go.

Andre Dirrell

Tom Casino/Showtime

Andre Dirrell has left no stone unturned in preparing for Carl Froch.

"It was close, but I showed what I'm about in rounds 10, 11 and 12," said Froch, who injured his ankle in training and contemplated pulling out of the fight. "I stepped up the gear and started putting my heavy artillery together and started landing some big shots. I could have boxed 15 rounds. I could have boxed 20 if that was necessary. I did what I needed to do in the last round. It felt great and instilled me with more confidence, because it was the first time I've ever been down on the canvas. I was down, I got up and I kept my cool, calm composure and I did what I needed to do. I finished strong. It was such a big finish and it's been received well."

Now, Froch will be at home against Dirrell, the Flint, Mich., native who claimed a 2004 Olympic bronze medal. Dirrell is flashy, much faster than Froch, and loves to switch from right-handed to left-handed, but he isn't nearly as experienced as Taylor, or even Pascal.

"He knows he's in deep water on Saturday night," said Froch, who had to be separated from Dirrell at Wednesday's news conference when their emotions boiled over after a promotion filled with trash talk. "He knows that once I start connecting with the bombs, he's going to be in serious trouble. I've got a feeling he's going to run and run scared, but it's 12 rounds and I will catch up with him, and when I do I'm going to do some serious damage."

Robert McCracken, a former world title challenger and Froch's trainer, said too many people underrate Froch.

"He was around 70 percent for [Taylor] but he's smack on for this one," McCracken said. "He's going in at 100 percent, everything's good. It's the same for all these guys -- Pascal, Taylor and Dirrell. They watch Carl on tape and think, 'I can do this or that with him,' but once the fight starts they realize how awkward he is and how hard he hits. It's a different ballgame. Dirrell's a good kid, a good talent, but he's not fought anybody anywhere near the class of Carl. He isn't ready, it's that simple. I'm sure he'll give it his best on the night but it won't be good enough, so the Cobra will retain his title."

Although Dirrell, 27, has faced limited opposition -- his best win is probably a sixth-round knockout of Victor Oganov 11 months ago -- he believes he's ready for the challenge Froch presents.

He exudes his own confidence.

"I worked my ass off and now it's time to shine," Dirrell said. "I've been working hard my whole life, but I put in the extra 10 yards for this camp so that I could come here and do what I've been dreaming of for 16 years, and that's to bring back the WBC title. I hope he cherishes the title now because it will be coming home to the United States with me, and I will prove that I'm the superior being. I'm taking that belt home, guaranteed. I'm giving my word right now. The crowd won't get a chance to do nothing. The loudest person in there, no disrespect to Carl Froch at all, will be his mother because she'll probably be crying.

"When I get finished with Froch he'll have a look in his eyes as vacant as the title he won when Joe Calzaghe gave it up rather than waste his time with such a trivial defense."

Next for Lopez?

AP Photo/Gregory Payan

Saturday's fight with Rogers Mtagwa, right, proved to be an eye-opener for Team Lopez.

Junior featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez, who struggled to a decision win against Rogers Mtagwa in a fight-of-the-year candidate last week, may move to featherweight for his next fight instead of waiting two fights, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com. He said Lopez would undergo a physical exam to see if it's safe for him to continue making 122 pounds.

Lopez and featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa, on a collision course for next summer, are due back (in separate fights) on an HBO doubleheader in early 2010. However, Arum said the Jan. 23 date may be pushed to Feb. 6. He also said that instead of the card being in Lopez's native Puerto Rico, as originally planned, it will instead go to New York or Atlantic City. Arum said Top Rank and HBO want their boxing telecasts produced in high definition, but that there are no HD trucks available in Puerto Rico, "and the extra cost to do a telecast out of Puerto Rico is an extra $250,000. HBO wants us to pay it out of the rights fee and we just can't do that. So we're moving the show."

Arum said he leaned toward matching Lopez with featherweight titlist Steven Luevano, whom Arum also promotes, instead of unified junior featherweight titlist Celestino Caballero, who has been calling Lopez out and whom Arum doesn't promote.

Gamboa probably will face Bernabe Concepcion, although Arum said he'd consider matching Gamboa with Mtagwa if the promoter can find something else for Concepcion (Arum already was planning to give the Gamboa fight to Concepcion).

"If I can find something else for Bernabe," Arum said, "why not Mtagwa? He's from Philly, he made a great fight with Lopez. Why not?"

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.


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Wright

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