In 2008, when Carl Froch talked about winning a real world title and making genuine defences against proper fighters, nobody believed him. Now, five fights and three years later, nobody doubts him.
Froch defends his World Boxing Council super-middleweight title in Atlantic City tomorrow night against Glen Johnson in a fight that, at a time of too many convenient mismatches in world title farces, once again restores faith in the traditional route. Froch is very much a traditional fighter, a throwback at a time of too many plastic fantastic boxers.
"I had the chance to win the world title and fight bums," said Froch. "It was an option and one that many British world champions have happily followed in recent years. It was there for me, an easy future, but that is not the way I fight. I wanted to be a real world champion."
In winning and losing and winning back the world title in his last five fights Froch, 33, has been involved in the best consecutive sequence of fights ever by a British boxer; it continues tonight and is not set to end any time soon.
In 2008 Froch defeated the unbeaten Jean Pascal for the vacant WBC title. A first defence against former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor in America ended dramatically with 14 seconds left of the 12th and last round; Froch was trailing on points at the time. In 2009 Froch and five other fighters entered the Super Six tournament, a unique and ambitious event which was to feature 12 fights in total as the boxers fought their way to a big Las Vegas finish. In his first Super Six fight he beat previously unbeaten American Andre Dirrell in Nottingham in October 2009.
"That was an awkward night," said Froch. The tournament had been meant to end last month, but tomorrow night's fight is a semi-final and the winner meets Andre Ward in November. "The Super Six has been a hard, hard road," admitted Froch. "It's close to over now and then I will have a massive homecoming, possibly at the City ground in Nottingham."
The Super Six, which has been driven and bankrolled by the American television company Showtime, has also been confusing, with three of the original six pulling out because of injuries.
Johnson, who as a light-heavyweight won a version of the world title, is a replacement and his only win inside the tournament was against another replacement. However, he is, even at 42, a quality and dangerous operator and the fight is unlikely to be easy for Froch.
"I will try and box, using my jab but I know that at some point I will have to fight him," added Froch. "I just want to keep winning and keep fighting the best – it's the way it is meant to be."
After Johnson, assuming he wins, the return to America for the Ward fight will be a Las Vegas spectacular and Froch deserves that type of recognition and payment.