CARL FROCH V JEAN PASCAL - WBC SUPER-MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE Venue: Trent FM Arena, Nottingham Date: Saturday, 6 December Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio Nottingham. Live on ITV1 from 2245 BST
Froch fights Pascal at the Nottingham Arena on Saturday
By Nabil Hassan
After years of having his ambitions thwarted at every turn, Carl Froch will finally get a shot at a world title on Saturday.
The 31-year-old takes on unbeaten Canadian Jean Pascal in front of his home fans at the Nottingham Arena, with the vacant WBC super-middleweight title up for grabs.
Win, and his life will change forever.
It is by far the most important night of Froch's career, with victory opening the door to fights that just a year ago would have seemed impossible.
Not that you'd know it. With a career-defining fight less than a week away, 'The Cobra' could not be more relaxed.
All eyes have been focused on Joe Calzaghe, David Haye and Ricky Hatton in recent weeks, but Froch has been quietly going about his business at the tranquil Breaffy House Resort in Castlebar, County Mayo.
Froch's willingness to freeze out friends and family highlights the importance of the fight. Nothing has been allowed to blur his focus.
"It's a world title fight and you don't get much bigger than this unless it is to defend it or unify it.
"Usually I'm in London training at the Real Fight Club in Shoreditch and it's stressful.
"It's an urban jungle and it's a nightmare to get to. You are either on the Tube or bus and it takes it out of you. Waiting to get time in the ring is frustrating so it has been important to get away and concentrate on myself.
"I've brought in my own sparring partners, have a specially-built ring to myself and one of the function rooms was turned into a purpose-made gym. I've had no distractions and I'm a better boxer for it."
For years Froch and his promoter Mick Hennessy have been chasing big fights without success, with Calzaghe among the stars on their hitlist.
But Froch knows that victory will see him become one of the hottest properties in the super-middleweight division, and he cannot wait.
Hennessy has offered Calzaghe a reported £5m to fight Froch if he wins on Saturday, and a deal is also said to have been tabled to meet former middleweight king Jermain Taylor in New York early next year.
Froch could fight Jermain Taylor (above) in New York next year
"I'll be the WBC champion, would have just boxed on prime-time television and all of a sudden I'll be the man everyone is chasing," said Froch.
"You never know, Calzaghe might still come out of the woodwork. But if he doesn't there are other big fights out there for me if I win.
"Jermain Taylor is a marquee name and a marquee fighter and is proven at world level and coming off a good win against Jeff Lacy [who Calzaghe beat in 2006].
"For me to travel to the States and fight a marquee name, at Madison Square Garden, defending a world title, would be phenomenal. It doesn't get any bigger than that."
Froch's match with Pascal will be shown a couple of hours after the latest instalment of ITV1 talent show The X Factor, and the inherited audience should help boost Froch's profile.
"Saturday is as big as it gets," said Froch.
"Around 12m people will be watching and I've got a chance to tap into that. It's big exposure and will catapult me to being a big name, not just to ordinary boxing fans, but to your average sports fan. I'll be a household name."
Pascal will be no walkover. The 26-year-old Canadian is unbeaten in 21 fights, 14 of which have been won by knockout, and beat Liverpool's Paul Smith to win the Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2002.
But Froch, who is unbeaten in 23 fights, has home advantage, with 8,000 fans expected at Nottingham's Trent FM Arena. Against a man who has never fought outside of North America, they may prove crucial.
"Anyone who is ranked in the top five by the WBC is no bum," said Froch, a former two-time ABA middleweight champion and bronze medallist at the 2001 World Amateur Championships.
"It's world-class boxing and this Pascal means business. He's unbeaten in 21 fights and is coming to Nottingham to win that belt.
"But he's coming to my back yard and for me to fight in front of my home fans is brilliant. It's a big night for Nottingham."
Froch is expecting a war when the first bell goes and he has prepared for such an eventuality in sparring.
"He will want to fight and he's a skilful boxer, but I'm ready," added Froch.
"I'll wait for his legs to tire and then I'll take him into the trenches. And when he's there I'll starting hitting him with some serious leather. At that point he'll know he's in trouble."
It is easy to forget that for all the hype, publicity and column inches Calzaghe, Haye and Hatton have generated in recent weeks, the only thing that has been won is pride and prestige - no credible world title belt has changed hands.
On Saturday, Froch gets the chance to win a serious world title. And change his life forever.
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