Weekend Fight Roundup: Froch Beats Taylor in a Thriller

April 28, 2009

Last Saturday Connecticut's Foxwoods Casino was the site of a tremendous title fight, as WBC Super Middleweight Champion Carl Froch of Nottingham, England, made his first title defense against former undisputed middleweight champ Jermain Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas.

In the early going, it looked as if the 30 year-old Taylor would dominate Froch with his handspeed, as "Bad Intentions" kept his opponent off-balance by establishing his world-class jab.

Throughout the first two frames, Taylor wisely worked behind that jab, keeping Froch at bay by consistently snapping one-two combinations, and punctuating them with hard straight and overhand rights. Froch appeared a step too slow, as he seemed confused over how to stop Taylor's attack while simultaneously trying to mount his own offense. Froch angered his own corner by continually keeping his lead left hand dangerously low, almost inviting Taylor to land his big right hand shots.

The third round saw a more aggressive Froch, as he began to land some thudding shots to the body. However midway through the round, Taylor expertly spun off the ropes, and countered the advancing Froch with a nice right hand. Taylor followed up with another shot that dropped the Englishman to the canvas.

Although it was the first time that Froch had been knocked down in his pro career, he seemed to have all his faculties, and intelligently took an eight count before climbing to his feet. With little time left on the clock, Taylor wisely didn't press for the knockout, perhaps not wanting to punch himself out as he did after dropping Kelly Pavlik in their first fight.

Although Taylor continued to be the more accurate fighter, it was Froch that increased his workrate. As a result, Froch was able to carry the next few rounds. Still, Taylor didn't appear to be in any real danger, as he certainly gave as good as he got.

By the fight's midpoint, the tables began to turn, as there was a discernible difference in Taylor's workrate. Either Taylor was trying to set the proverbial "trap" for the newly-emboldened Froch, or his notorious stamina issues were once again rearing their ugly head.

In Round 8, however, Taylor rallied, throwing a late "shoeshine" flurry at the bell. He then screamed derisively at his opponent as Froch turned and sauntered back to his corner.

After a thorough chastising in his corner between rounds, Froch came out and wisely resumed his attack to Taylor's body, taking the next three rounds in succession. The body work caused Taylor to noticeably wince on numerous occasions, as he nearly doubled over after one especially ferocious hook to the body by Froch.

By round 10, Taylor was clearly quite winded, breathing heavily through his mouth. He appeared to have neither the legs, nor the wind to hold off the hard-charging Froch.

Moreover, Taylor was not demonstrating much ring generalship at this stage of the fight, as he was curiously shuffling straight back while carrying his hands dangerously low -- a retreating motion eerily similar to the way he fought in his knockout loss to Pavlik.

In Taylor's defense, he did have the wherewithal to avoid being trapped in the corners, as he wisely pivoted and spun out of harm's way on several occasions during Rounds 10 and 11.

However, this would prove to be mere foreshadowing, as Taylor was clearly spent by the start of the 12th and final round.

Meanwhile, Froch still appeared to be comparatively fresh, and thus, he focused on ending the fight. As fate would have it, Taylor was ahead 106-102 on two of the judges scorecards heading into the final round. If he could stay on his feet and finish the round, he would become the new world champ at 168.

However, Froch came out ferociously, throwing haymakers and staying right on top of Taylor. Taylor, on the other hand, was simply trying to stay out of danger. With just about 2 minutes left in the fight, Froch rocked Taylor with a vicious overhand right, instantly sending Taylor into full survival mode. Taylor's legs were clearly rubbery, and at this point he was fighting on pure guts and instinct. Although it was clear that Taylor was completely exhausted, he admirably tried to fight back, but simply had nothing behind his punches.

Froch continued to stalk, hitting Taylor with everything he had. Finally, Froch landed a perfectly-placed uppercut that snapped the former champ's head back and dropped the exhausted Taylor into the corner, much like in his first fight with Pavlik.

Taylor barely beat the count, rising at "9." However, by this point he was totally spent and eventually would get caught again. The exhausted Taylor dropped his hands and Froch simply potshotted the now defenseless fighter, prompting referee Mike Ortega to stop the fight.

The stoppage came with just :14 seconds remaining in the fight.

As was mentioned earlier, Taylor was ahead on two of the scorecards, while a third judge had the fight scored 106-102 for Froch.

TheDailySportsHerald.com's unofficial scorecard had Taylor ahead 105-103.

Following the fight, Froch was very complimentary and respectful toward his vanquished foe, but when asked about his next opponent, he derisively went into a spiel attempting to goad the now-retired Joe Calzaghe into a potential all-United Kingdom mega-fight. Froch didn't appear to be interested in any other fights at 168, and instead focused exclusively on trying to convince Calzaghe to un-retire and test his skills against the man who now wears one of his old belts.

After another disappointing defeat, Taylor was also very congratulatory. However, when asked if he wanted a rematch with Froch, he replied "Hell yeah," without hesitation.

What we learned from this fight is that Froch is a legitimate champion, and a potential star. He fights in a very exciting, crowd-pleasing style. He also showed the dry wit typical of so many Brits, and fight fans would be well-served to see him in more big title fights stateside.

As for Taylor, he should not be seen as a "shot" fighter, despite losing 3 of his last 4 fights.

On this night, he gave a good account of himself and fought well, becoming the first man to have dropped the current champ. Despite being stopped for the second time in his career, Taylor showed a lion's heart and a true warrior's willingness to mix it up against a strong, durable, and determined champ.

Still a man with world-class talent and all the tools necessary to succeed, the problem with Taylor is twofold:

First, his stamina appears to be inadequate. Despite going the distance in several of his fights, Taylor has still struggled down the stretch against tough, offensive-minded fighters like Pavlik and Froch. Revamped training methods, such as sparring 15 rounds or more in training camp, or perhaps fighting five minute rounds during preparation (a la Floyd Mayweather), would benefit Taylor if he truly desires to reclaim his status as one of the fight game's elites.

Second, it has become clear that there is a very real problem with Taylor's self-confidence and mental fortitude. One could almost see the doubt begin to creep into his mind around the 6th or 7th round, as if he was telling himself to slow down and conserve energy in the hopes of surviving and going the distance. Short of visiting a shrink, I don't know how, or if, this problem can be corrected. Nevertheless, here's hoping that Taylor finds a way. If he is unable to restore that confidence, it may be time for the former champ to hang up the gloves because a fighter who doesn't believe in himself, will only endanger himself.

To correct these problems, Taylor needs to hire a trainer who can fix his bad habits on the fly. A better trainer might have instructed Taylor to hold his opponent during the chaotic twelfth, rather than trying to compete for the round. By hiring an upper echelon trainer capable of tweaking a veteran fighter's game - a Naazim Richardson or one of the Mayweather brothers come to mind - Taylor probably could win that rematch with Froch.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com

1 comment:

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...