Luke Blackledge feels it was the right moment for Carl Froch to call time on an illustrious career.
The “Cobra”, a former three-time super middleweight titleholder, officially announced his retirement from boxing this morning having left a legacy that’s inclusive of four world title belts at 168lb.
The 38-year-old entertained talks of potential match-ups with WBA and IBO middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr and Andre Ward, but Clitheroe’s Commonwealth champion feels Froch signed off in the best possible way.
“It’s the right time for him,” he said. “He doesn’t need to take any risks. He’s 38 years old and the last punch of his career knocked George Groves out in front of 80,000 people at Wembley. Does he get a bigger finish than that?
“It was a basic one, two. He feinted with the left hook and set himself up perfectly for the right. He caught him flush with it. Groves had his right hand up but he’d dropped his left which saw him exposed. That’s not a bad way to end your career. He’s bowed out at the top.”
Blackledge added: “As a fighter I would’ve liked to have seen him have one more fight so I could have the chance to spar with him again. I would’ve liked to have seen him have one more big fight, but the most realistic one was the Chavez Jnr fight. Once he got beat against Andrzej Fonfara that was it for him.”
That sensational eighth round knockout in May last year won’t be the only moment to define Froch as a fighter, though. He out-pointed Jean Pascal in a hefty battle for the vacant WBC World strap in 2008 and followed that up with a successful defence versus Jermain Taylor in a contest that epitomised Froch’s attributes. Getting knocked down in the third, Froch fought back strongly to stop his opponent in the 12th and final round.
“He was losing that fight on two scorecards but came back to stop him in the last round,” recalled Blackledge. “He showed a lot of character to come back and win that fight. It said a lot about Carl Froch. That’s what he did - he came on strong in the championship rounds.”
There was also scrapes with Mikkel Kessler and Ward, who inflicted the only defeats during Froch’s 35-fight professional tenure, as well as Andre Dirrell, Arthur Abraham and Lucian Bute. And it’s those contests, paired with Blackledge’s own personal experiences in sparring, that has prompted Alex Matvienko’s student to hold Froch in such high regard.
The duo paired up prior to Froch’s first meeting with Groves in 2013. “I’ve sparred a few world champions but he’s one of the best,” he said. “I sparred with him a couple of years ago and it was a big learning curve in my career. He really put it on me and it felt like a real fight. I finished doing 12 rounds with him and that was a huge experience.
“I learnt a lot from that and it was great to be in the ring with someone with that kind of experience. He’s world class and that was one of the most defining moments of my career. It was a great opportunity for me.
“I’ll always look up to him because I know just how good he is. I’ve been in there with him. He should go down as one of Britain’s all-time best fighters.”
He’s 38 years old and the last punch of his career knocked George Groves out in front of 80,000 people at WembleyLuke Blackledge