Photos by Sumio Yamada
CARL FROCH vs TONY DODSON
After three postponements, undefeated British super middleweight champion Carl Froch finally meets Tony Dodson, the former titleholder, on Friday. If Froch wins as he is expected to do he gains outright possession of the Lonsdale Belt, this being his third defence of the British title.
Froch, 29, has had a frustrating year, hindering his hopes of a major move onto the world stage. He suffered an arm injury when stopping durable Aussie Dale Westerman in the ninth round in February, while in his last fight, in May, he broke his right hand in an impressive knockout victory over the Irish southpaw Brian Magee, who was crunched by a classic uppercut in the 11th round of what had been a close fight up to that point.
Dodson has had his share of injuries, too, and was inactive for almost two years after hurting his back in a car crash although he has come back with four wins in a row. Encouragingly, in his last fight Dodson apparently looked back to his best when blasting right through a British rival, Jamie Hearn, who was dropped and saved by the bell in the fourth and knocked out in the fifth. At the age of 26, Dodson has told British interviewers that he feels he is on the verge of fulfilling his potential.
This is a massive step up in class for Dodson, however. Froch is a world-class boxer-puncher even if he has yet to make an impact outside of Britain. Froch's promoter, Mick Hennessy, did hope for doors to open in the U.S. after Froch stopped the journeyman Henry Porras in the eighth round on a Golden Boy promotion in Los Angeles last year but the big breakthrough never happened. So Froch keeps fighting and winning on home soil, with a European title bout perhaps coming next assuming he takes care of Dodson, that is.
Certainly it would be a major surprise if Froch lost on Friday, even though Dodson is a tough, gritty fighter who can box efficiently and who punches well with either hand.
One of Dodsons big problems is that he tends to be erratic he blows hot and cold, as they say. One of his three losses (in 24 bouts) came when he seemed to lose focus after getting hit by a punch that he seemed to think was a low blow against an unbeaten Polish boxer: Dodson was surprisingly stopped in the ninth round. In another defeat he just did not seem to have mind on the fight and blew a decision to an Armenian whom he twice defeated in rematches. A loss to a French boxer, Pierre Moreno, was due to a cut over the eye, but Dodson had dropped his opponent and would have been a technical decision winner under American rules.
Probably Dodsons best performance was his eight-round points win over Brian The Bullâ€? Barbosa, who was once in the running for a world middleweight title bout. Dodson knocked down his rugged opponent and apparently kept his concentration in every round something he clearly will have to do to stand any chance against Froch.
The only time I saw Dodson was on one of his not-very-good nights, when he struggled to outpoint the Belgian southpaw journeyman Mike Algoet. An exasperated Glenn McCrory told viewers during the television commentary that Dodson seemed totally disinterestedâ€?.
On Friday he is in by far the biggest fight of his career. Dodson knows as well as anyone that he needs to rise to the occasion if he is to be competitive, and I think there is a good chance he will do so. He has apparently not taken too kindly to suggestions by Froch that three pullouts indicate a less-than-eager approach to the fight. I get the impression that Dodson feels he has something to prove to Froch, which could make him a more difficult opponent to subdue than might appear to be the case.
There really does seem to be a big difference in class, though: Froch, when he feels like it, is capable of unleashing impressive combinations.
With his hands-down style, relaxed and always giving the impression of being ready to strike with fast, hard punches, Froch does actually resemble his Cobraâ€? nickname. Unfortunately he can be a little too languid at times. As Glyn Leach, the editor of Boxing Monthly , said over the phone from London this week when discussing Froch: He does love to box at his own pace.â€?
If Froch, boxing in his Nottingham hometown, opens up the way he is capable of doing he can produce a dramatic result. But Froch is boxing for the first time since he broke his right hand and I suspect that he respects Dodson a bit more than he is letting on. So, I think Froch will take his time, picking his shots and trying to draw Dodson into making mistakes.
Dodson is a big, strong 168-pounder he has boxed at light-heavyweight so it seems likely that Froch will look to break him down slowly and steadily, although if he can catch the challenger exactly right, and hurt him, he will no doubt let his hands go to see if he can take him out.
Of course, sometimes an underdog is lifted by the occasion, but I just cannot see an upset here. Froch just seems to be too talented, too hard hitting, for a game challenger. I expect Froch to score his 20th consecutive victory and 16th stoppage somewhere around the 10th round, after which the beautiful Lonsdale Belt will be his to keep permanently.