Barney's holding style puts Froch in no-win situation

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The Independent Online

The pair meet at the Arena, in Nottingham, for the local fighter Froch's British super-middleweight title and it is being screened on ITV2 in what will be the network's first live fight on a Saturday night since the summer of 1999.

Froch turned professional relatively late in life and is unbeaten in 15 fights, 14 of which were screened on the BBC, but he has so far failed to attract the attention that he correctly believes he deserves.

Barney is also a misfit, having been keenly avoided during an odd career that has seen him manage just 21 wins from 27 fights. But he is a proven operator at this level and capable of ruining both Froch's perfect record and his debut on the new channel.

The prospect is captivating because Froch, in many ways, is in a lose-lose situation and Barney is, even more bizarrely, in a win-win situation. The truth is that nobody expects Froch to lose and nobody really expects Barney to win, but it is the style of both the defeat and the victory that will decide how people in the fight game view the bout.

If Froch wins comfortably on points in what would be an absolute stinker of a fight due to Barney's ability to hold and crawl around the ring it will be a win without glamour. If, on the other hand, Froch can stop Barney then only the people in the boxing business will recognise the significance of the achievement.

Barney, meanwhile, could in theory fiddle his way to a 12-round points win which would, in my opinion, not be such a great shock and if that happened it would leave him with nowhere to go. Also, if Barney lost it would hardly be deemed an upset.

Barney has in the past taken part in some fights that have been truly awful to watch but have also been rather impressive if you actually know what you are looking for. He is an acquired taste, but he showed in his last fight against the German Thomas Ulrich for the European light-heavyweight title that he can be a handful when he is motivated. He lost on that occasion but it was a diabolical decision and with nobody stepping forward to fight him and no chance of a rematch he was left with no option but to drop 6lb and agree terms to meet Froch.

If the form book is of any value, then Froch should be too busy and forceful this evening and a win would, hopefully, have him receive the type of respect he is due. But he could easily find himself on the wrong end of a tight decision in a fight that few will want to remember.