After postponing the announcement for a week, Carl Froch made it official and declared his next opponent would be Yusaf Mack, with the pair set to square off in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham on November 17th. The announcement ends weeks of speculation among boxing fans as to just who the IBF super middleweight champion would fight prior to undertaking his contracted rematch with Lucian Bute.
Who Is “The Mack Attack?”
Casual boxing fans are probably scratching their heads and muttering “Yusaf who?” right now, so allow me to introduce one of the meat and potatoes characters of professional boxing. Mack is best described as a top-tier journeyman. Primarily a boxer of the Philadelphia mold, Mack has good hand speed, skills, and power, and brings plenty of heart into the ring.
Mack has spent his career moving from 160 to 168 to 175 looking for a path into the world class and title contention, but he has never had that something special that makes for a world class fighter, and his ability to absorb punishment is questionable. He has been stopped in two of his last five fights, in bouts against Glen Johnson and Tavoris Cloud. Every time this 32 year old has stepped up to fight even a fringe contender, he has suffered a stoppage defeat.
Yet Yusaf Mack is not a stiff, and anyone who says so ought to be smacked in the mouth. He packs sufficient pop to put Librado Andrade on the canvas, something Mikkel Kessler couldn’t do, even while beating Andrade from pillar to post. Froch has trouble with slick, skilled opponents, and Mack has good skills and a little slickness. It’s easy to see The Mack Attack capitalizing on Froch’s often porous defense to land stinging counter-punches and steal rounds. Although a Froch victory is a foregone conclusion, I wouldn’t call it a cakewalk.
The main question in this fight is how long can Mack perform at his best, and that might become very relevant if Froch loses focus and takes it easy in the gym. One factor in that question is the fact that Mack hasn’t made 168 lbs in five years, and has only three months to get it together. He may show up for the fight too drained to keep it up for the long haul. The other factor is that Froch is a strong, heavy-handed guy, and given Mack’s merely average durability, even a soundly conditioned Mack might find himself ground up after five or six rounds.
Froch Takes an Easy One?
Some will criticize Froch for defending his newly won IBF title in an easy fight before his adoring, hometown crowd, but I won’t. First off, anyone who expects Froch to seek a rematch with Kessler or take on a young lion like George Groves right before his rematch with Lucian Bute is out of his mind. Second, if any man in professional boxing today has earned a tune-up fight with a journeyman, that man is Carl Froch.
The Cobra has established a reputation as boxing’s reigning ironman, fighting virtually everybody worth fighting in his weight class, one guy after another. Starting in 2008, he took on future light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, a still dangerous Jermain Taylor, slickster Andre Dirrell, the formidable Mikkel Kessler, hard-banging Arthur Abraham, rough and tumble Glen Johnson, the “Son of God” Andre Ward, and Lucian Bute all in a row. It’s a record few fighters in the last 25 years could claim to rival.
If Froch wants a fight with a less-than-world class opponent, I say let him have it. Even in doing so, Froch didn’t choose an abject tomato can, and whatever happens in Nottingham, I bet it will be entertaining.