Boxing: Froch struggles to make name for himself

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The Independent Online

The up-marketing of Carl Froch, the thinking fans' fighter, began in earnest last week when the new World Boxing Council super-middleweight champion, for so long second fiddle to Joe Calzaghe, was given the big-time treatment in the build-up to his first defence, against Jermain Taylor in the United States next month.

Until now, 'The Cobra' has been a product of the provinces, hailed as a celebrity in his home town of Nottingham, where he brilliantly won the title Calzaghe discarded, but his name has never been one that sprang readily to the lips of anyone but genuine students of the fight game elsewhere.

In the US, Taylor's manager, Lou DiBella, famously asked: "Who the froch is Froch?" before the 25 April contest was made, a question reinforced by Taylor himself: "When I say to people in the States I am fighting Carl Froch they say, 'Who?' It's kinda embarrassing."

So, just to make sure Taylor knows who Froch is, his promoter, Mick Hennessy, brought them face to face on video link from a swish Mayfair casino, where the university-educated Froch, largely anonymous in his seven years unbeaten as a pro, delivered a chilling message: "Anyone who still says they don't know me will find out who I am on 25 April."

That may be so in America after they have fought at the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut (Taylor declined offers to come to Britain), but British television doesn't seem to be helping the 31-year-old Froch to make a bigger name for himself here. So far there are no takers to screen the fight, which is being shown on America's Showtime. ITV, who televised Froch's pulsating victory over the Canadian Jean Pascal, are pleading poverty.

While Froch acknowledges that boxing has been hit by a credit punch, he believes – as Britain's only genuine world champion – that TV should not be blanking him. "This is a real world championship, not just some silly label they pluck out of the alphabet, and for it not to be screened on British TV is ridiculous.

"I am not fighting a bum. Taylor is a marquee man with a great record – he's twice beaten Bernard Hopkins. If people who pay their taxes and licence fees can't watch a British world champion defend his title in America against a top opponent, well, it's ridiculous.

"OK, the recession may have something to do with it," Froch added. "I know ITV are going through a bad time and the BBC haven't got much money, but satellite channels like Sky and Setanta claim to be the home of boxing so why aren't they showing it?

"People call me arrogant and cocky for saying things like this but it's just I believe in myself, and what I say, I mean. They said the same about Cloughie [Brian Clough] when he was in Nottingham. It must be something in the Trent water."

So, if during his threatened beating-up of Taylor he demands, Muhammad Ali-like, of the American: 'What's my name?' who could blame him?