Joe Calzaghe vs Carl Froch: The fight which fans were robbed from witnessing

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Last month Tyson Fury returned to the UK to fight fellow Brit Dillian Whyte for his WBC world heavyweight title.

An incredible 95,000 fans packed into Wembley Stadium to see 'The Gypsy King' dismantle Whyte over six rounds. He was paid handily, but it was a poor night for Whyte. For Fury, on the other hand, it was one of the greatest of his career. The 'lineal' world champion insisted before the fight and after that, the clash with Whyte would be his last.

Now, not many actually believe him. Fury will be taken more seriously if he vacates his WBC title in a few weeks' time.

But for the purposes of this article, let's say he is retired. If that's the case, fans will never get to see him fight Anthony Joshua.

This is the fight a lot of boxing fans have been clamouring for. The sport was robbed of it last summer, and now it may never happen.

This level of disappointment is part and parcel of being a boxing fan. Seventeen years ago, another major all-British grudge match fell by the wayside…

Calzaghe vs Froch

In 2008, Nottingham-born Carl Froch was 23-0 and he was the mandatory challenger for Joe Calzaghe's WBC world super-middleweight title. The long-term WBO champion was coming off a unanimous decision win over Mikkel Kessler at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Already WBO and The Ring champion, this victory saw Calzaghe add the WBA and WBC titles to his collection. For the brash Froch, this is a fight he always wanted and he saw the clash against his undefeated domestic rival as the perfect opportunity to become a world champion. Calzaghe had grander plans, though. Instead of facing Froch, he stepped up to light-heavyweight - presumably for a bigger payday - to challenge 43-year-old Bernard Hopkins for The Ring title. They met in Paradise, Nevada and it was a tough fight for Calzaghe. The Welshman was floored in the opening round, but he went on to win comfortably on points.

The 'Pride of Wales' made one successful defence of his newly-won belt against another older opponent - a 39-year-old, washed up Roy Jones Jr.

Roy Jones Jr
Roy Jones Jr

A few months later, Calzaghe called time on his professional boxing career. He retired with a perfect 46-0 record, with 32 of his wins coming via TKO/KO. Meanwhile, with Calzaghe vying for honours at a higher weight class, Froch challenged Jean Pascal for the vacant WBC world super middleweight title. 'The Cobra' beat his Canadian opponent via unanimous decision to become a world champion for the first time. Unlike Calzaghe, Froch did not retire with an unbeaten record as he lost world title fights against Kessler and Andre Ward during the Super Six World Boxing Classic. He became a two-time world champion in 2012, beating IBF world champion Lucian Bute to do so. Froch later rematched Kessler for the WBA and IBF world super-middleweight titles. In a twelve-round barnburner, the British warrior got his revenge as he triumphed on points. Before retiring, Froch got embroiled in a heated rivalry with George Groves. Their two-fight story is fondly remembered by boxing fans as they delivered thrilling bouts and there was genuine hatred between the pair. After a disputed win, Froch rematched Groves in front of 80,000 at Wembley - as the champion likes to remind people. This time, Froch produced a career-best knockout to hold onto his belts. He felt this was the right time to retire. Despite threatening to return semi-regularly, Froch has thankfully not yet blown the dust off his boxing gloves.

As proved by the phenomenal achievements of both, Calzaghe and Froch did not need each other. While there is a sense of what-if about their proposed fight, each boxer would establish themselves as one of the best super-middleweights of their era in their own right. Sitting pretty with his unbeaten record, Calzaghe has always looked back on his career fondly with no real sense of regret at missed fights. For Froch though, it has always bugged him that he did not get to fight Calzaghe. With him facing the likes of Ward, Kessler and Bute, Calzaghe was the only major name missing from his impressive list of past opponents. Years after retiring, Froch has not been able to prevent himself from taking swipes at Calzaghe. In 2015, he suggested that the Welshman knew what his fate would be if they fought: "That was a fight I wanted. He was WBC champion, everyone knew who he was. It was a massive fight back then - I think it would still be a big fight now. I think Joe Calzaghe knew that I was going to beat him."

Five years later, comments from Calzaghe on Froch emerged. The tone of his words were different, as he mocked his British rival: "It's mad, I'm still living in his head after all these years. I've done everything you can achieve in boxing. "I know what would have happened and I don't take much notice of what he says. I'm 48 and I've been retired for 10 years, I'm happy with my career. When I was at my peak, I'd have been too fast and too sharp for him." 2008 was the time for Calzaghe to fight Froch and had this happened, it would have likely gone down in the history books as one of the great all-British fights and rivalries. A fight at Wembley could have been in the offing for the pair and there would have been fireworks in the build-up. Unlike some fights, you would trust that these fighters - given their style and heart - would have backed it up in the ring to gift fans a fight for the ages. Sadly though, it was not meant to be and we are left with people like me envisioning what would have gone down if they squared off. Calzaghe would have been the favourite going in, with Froch's best hope of winning being a stoppage. Arguably not being able to fight Calzaghe was a blessing in disguise for Froch. Instead, he became world champion by beating a weaker opponent in Pascal. While he had losses on his record, he had great wins over the likes of Groves, Kessler and Bute. Froch is a marmite figure, but his bravery cannot be disputed and he always delivered entertaining fights. Had he lost to Calzaghe with millions of eyes on the event, that could have seriously hampered Froch for the rest of his career. He is known to be an overthinker and he often needed reassurance from his trainer, Rob McCracken. Froch would not see it this way himself as he felt he had the skills to beat Calzaghe. Yet without one another, they achieved everything they could have possibly dreamed of, asserting themselves as modern greats of British boxing in the process. Calzaghe vs Froch is one of the biggest 'what could have been' stories of the past 25 years. Though for the boxers, it is not the end of the world that this fight did not happen, as they did pretty well all the same.

The article Joe Calzaghe vs Carl Froch: The fight which fans were robbed from witnessing appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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