The supper middleweight division has always been a cracker. For the UK we have had Joe Calzaghe, Steve Collins, Richie Woodhall and the amazing battles between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank. So on Saturday the 25th May we have an evening dedicated to two of the current finest – Carl Froch and George Groves.
Top of the tree for now is the IBF Champion, Cary Froch. His belt is on the line at the 02 as well as the belt worn by Mikkel Kessler. This is a major fight make no mistake. Kessler inflicted one of only two losses suffered by Froch and Froch is out for revenge. After his second loss – against Andrew Ward in the Super Six final – we were predicting he would find an easy way of retiring. His next fight, against Canadian Lucien Bute would, had he been beaten, have been his last. It was in his home town in Nottingham and Froch was masterful; utterly masterful. Bute was a man with a fierce reputation but the way Froch dealt with him was utterly sublime. The WBO title is also up for grabs in the fight with Kessler and with Froch having held the WBC version twice this would be neat symmetry for him to capture both titles in one fell swoop to add to his titles already won. Froch is ranked number 2 in the World behind Ward and whilst Ward has disparaged Froch recently there is no doubt that if Kessler is defeated Froch wants a rematch with Ward. Contractually he has a Canadian fight with Bute to fulfil but his priorities are legacy driven – he wants revenge and a cleaner record.
Just underneath – depending upon which mouth talks straightest – is either George Groves or James DeGale. Their rivalry is pure box office. When Groves won their fight on the 21st May 2011 he had the bragging rights but there are many who thought DeGale won it. Groves is up for the WBA Intercontinental title against Noe Gonzalez Ocaba on the under card with Carl Froch on the 25th. Winning that should put him closer to a word title shot and he has certainly upset Froch by sparring with Kessler in the last month. If he gets into the position where the WBA want him to fight WBA champion Andre Ward it might scupper Froch’s ambitions of a rematch for a short time.
DeGale is another with Ward on his radar as he is the current WBC Silver champion. Ward holds both the WBC and WBA belts so the competition between both British fighters may well intensify. DeGale relinquished his European title and went out to North America to record his 15th win against Sebastian Demers with a highly impressive knockout in the 2nd round. Both Groves and DeGale are on the radar and despite Groves having had more fights, DeGale has been travelling to get some bouts in. Ward has not fought since September last year and there are no plans for a future fight. He has 26 wins out of 26 under his belt and the win he recorded against Froch was one of the most convincing victories recorded. It is always possible that delaying a fight for Ward is about seeing who between Kessler and Froch will be still standing after their dust-up. The defeat to Ward sent doubts fluttering in Froch’s mind so he will be keen to nip in and get the fight sorted. For the other two there is the WBO route where Robert Stieglitz managed to head but his way to the belt by literally brow beating Arthur Abraham! I would fancy either fighter in against Stieglitz.
Underneath these highly rated top three are Brian Magee and Scotland’s Kenny Anderson. Magee has had a great career with his attempts for titles including losses to Bute for the IBF world title, against Froch for the British and Commonwealth belts, against Vitaly Tsypho for the European and Robin Reid for the IBO belt. The last try was in 2011 against Bute and the first in 2004 with Robin Reid. Magee has had 36 wins so he may now be looking to wind down. Anderson on the other hand, the last winner of the British title, is up for getting busier. With 18 wins and only 1 loss – like DeGale against George Groves – he has beaten Wayne Reed and Robin Reid already domestically and needs to start upping the calibre of his opponents. He last fought in October last year so he really does need to get into the ring far more regularly or the guys behind him may catch him up.
They include Ricky Fielding – devastating in the Emirates in Glasgow on Ricky Burns’ undercard – who will be fighting Martin Concepcion for the English title, or Paul Smith who has lost to both DeGale and Groves who will be fighting for the British belt at Wembley in 2013. There is of course also Robin Reid who is a former IBO and WBF Champion and looking for a last hurrah!
It’s a healthy division that has plenty to keep our interest but one of the biggest pieces of news has been Steve Collins getting a licence. He never faced Roy Jones Jr in his career, believing that Jones purposefully avoided him, and has sent out the challenge publicly to take him on now! 16 years after retiring Collins wants to finish unfinished business. With so much happening at this weight division it is one of the most cracking in British boxing just now!