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Who will Carl Froch fight next?

Credit: Russell Pritchard

Carl Froch announced yesterday that he had suffered an elbow injury, one that was expected to shelve him until sometime this summer. During the last several weeks, boxing observers had been speculating on whether Froch would fight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., as he has said he prefers to, or fellow Briton James DeGale. Such speculation is now in abeyance, but far from scuppered.

Fight DeGale Or Drop The Belt

Although Carl Froch is often referred to as the WBA-IBF titlist in the boxing press, he is really only the IBF beltholder. His WBA strap is of the “fake” variety, with the real belt belonging to the genuine World Super Middleweight Champion, Andre Ward. Convoluted antics of this type are exactly why ProBoxing-Fans.com stopped formally recognizing alphabet titles, and now only refers to them as technicalities.

Yet those technicalities are sometimes important. Because the IBF is Froch’s only real belt, it matters when the New Jersey-based sanctioning body orders him to fight mandatory challenger James DeGale, as they did earlier this month. It’s doubtful that the Cobra would vacate his title, let alone vacate it to avoid the challenge of a legitimate contender.

Accepting DeGale’s challenge has a lot to offer for both fighters. Although DeGale suffered a narrow loss to George Groves three years ago, the Olympic Gold Medalist has kept busy and is now a more seasoned fighter. Some thought he beat Groves in 2011, and I would pick him to beat Groves today. The Froch thumped Groves who beat DeGale logic that suggests Froch would whip DeGale doesn’t hold water.

Furthermore, this fight would be another all-English super middleweight bout between two world class guys, like Froch vs. Groves I and II and drawing on a tradition dating back to the 1990s. Froch vs. DeGale would be exciting and almost promotes itself.

The Chavez Payday

Yet just because Froch is ordered to fight DeGale doesn’t mean it would be his next fight. Froch has clearly stated his preference is to seek a glitzy Las Vegas showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., and he could still get his way. The Nottinghamer has until the end of the month to settle with DeGale, but past that nothing is set in stone. Froch could offer DeGale better terms or a step-aside payment to wait until later in the year, clearing a path to Chavez.

As good as Froch vs. DeGale would be, it can’t compare to the fireworks that should explode in a Froch vs. Chavez fight. The potential for warfare between these two tough guy sluggers ought to be obvious, and it says a lot about the match-up to realize that it’s Froch who, with his jab, actually has more finesse. Furthermore, Chavez seems like the smarter fight for Froch, since the Mexican is a better-defined and more technically limited quantity than DeGale.

Can Froch Get His Cake And Eat It Too?

Losing something like half the year doesn’t necessarily mean Froch cannot still do both. A double bill with Froch vs. DeGale and Chavez vs. TBA could be arranged. I doubt Chavez would complain, as he has not fought since April 2014 and is in need of a tune-up. All that would be necessary is for James DeGale to decide to postpone his claim on Froch’s red belt.

Rarely do things go so well for a fighter that he gets to have his cake and eat it too, but things seem to be lining up for Froch. DeGale is already in talks to fight Mikkel Kessler, signaling that he isn’t immediately pressing his claim to Froch’s title. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. announced only today that he will get his tune-up in April against Polish journeyman Andrzej Fonfara.

That suggests the question for Froch will be the same this summer as it was only last week. Instead of a matter of either/or, it could just be a question of who goes first? Another thing to think about is that DeGale might very well lose to Kessler, setting the stage for a Froch vs. Kessler rubber match.