All hail super-human Froch
Capital FM Arena, Nottingham
If anyone still harboured doubts Carl Froch was one of the greats of the British ring before Saturday night, those doubts will surely have been demolished by the same wrecking-ball the now three-time world champion used to dismantle a shell-shocked Lucian Bute in Nottingham.
"Maybe finally people will wake up to such a tremendous boxer," said Froch's trainer Rob McCracken, who is eternally irritated by the lack of respect afforded his charge. "He's a special fighter and just a normal, hard-working kid. Hopefully now he'll become a British boxing legend. It's long overdue."
McCracken may have hit upon the reason why Froch is so undervalued in his own country: being "normal" - Froch said he would celebrate his victory by laying some lino in a new bungalow he is renovating - does not sate the appetite of a public which apparently prefers its boxers to come with controversy. Unless you are so aggressively "normal" and down to earth that you are almost underground, as was the case with Ricky Hatton.
That a fight against fellow super-middleweight legend Joe Calzaghe, who retired in 2009, never happened is a shame. But we now have to ask if Froch's death-defying career is a match for the dazzling Welshman's, despite the two losses on his record to Calzaghe's none.
The fight was stopped in the fifth round. Photo: Getty
Calzaghe fans will point out that no-one was able to beat him in a professional career spanning 15 years and that he has victories over future hall-of-famers Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones on his resume, as well as British hero Chris Eubank. Detractors will say Calzaghe, for whatever reason, failed to fight some of the best boxers in and around his division for too long and that the '0' is therefore devalued.
Froch's career is a mirror image. That he has not fought such boxing luminaries as Hopkins, Jones and Eubank is through no fault of his own. That he did not fight Calzaghe was entirely the Welshman's decision. God knows Froch tried.
However, the throwback fighter Froch is, he has disproved the modern folly that an unblemished record is the be-all and end-all in boxing. Froch, now knocking on 35, has fought everyone there is to fight in the super-middleweight division.
In addition, Froch, who before Saturday had not fought in England since 2009, has always been prepared to get on his bike, while Calzaghe spent the large part of his career fighting in his own backyard. For the record, I believe Calzaghe would have beaten Froch comfortably. But then again, I thought Bute would do that, too.
"A lot of people in the press have had a lot to say and there's been a lot of negativity flying around," said Froch, having pummelled the previously unbeaten Bute in five savage rounds. "That fuelled me. I've shown and proved to everyone what I can do when I'm on my game."
Few could remember Froch, a notoriously slow starter, charging out of the blocks so fast. Literally charging at times. He could not miss Bute with his right hand, and when the champion attempted to trade, it was if his punches were being fed into a threshing machine. Froch was that powerful.
Bute's corner should have pulled him out at the end of round four, the Canadian, drunk on Froch's punches, having to be helped to his stool. And exactly what referee Earl Brown was thinking, giving Bute a standing count when he was out on his feet, is anybody's guess. Given Froch's old-fashioned qualities, perhaps Brown got confused and through it was the 1950s.
How Froch's Herculean run of seven elite-level fights, all of which went 12 rounds, had not diminished him is a miracle. Some of Froch's post-fight comments - Froch admitted he pondered retirement following his defeat by Andre Ward last December - suggested even he feared his lifeforce had been sapped. But his restorative victory over Bute had him believing in miracles again.
"I'm not sick of the sport yet, I still love boxing," he said. "That was the very best of me [on Saturday night], I felt so young and fresh and ready for more. Fighting like that, with the focus I had and the way I felt physically, I'd beat anyone in my weight division. There's nobody who can touch me. Even Andre Ward."
Given the one-sided nature of his first meeting with Ward - in short, the American was too quick and too skilled - it is difficult to envisage Froch turning the tables in a return.
But with home fans at his back and the same positive attitude, it would be advisable not to bet against him: not 'The Postman', the British fighter who almost always delivers.
On the evidence of Saturday's fight, a return bout against Bute in Montreal would have been easy money for the Englishman. But it is unlikely Bute will trigger the rematch clause: another defeat like that, especially on home turf, and his career would be in tatters. "I'd be surprised if he fights anyone again," was Froch's chilling appraisal of his victim's options.
Froch suggested he might take a break from "fighting monsters" and drop down a level. But in the very next sentence he said he would take a rematch with Mikkel Kessler, who beat him in Copenhagen in 2010, "in a heartbeat".
Back in Nottingham, that is certainly a fight he could win. Do that, and the comparisons with Calzaghe would become even more salient, Calzaghe having outpointed the Dane in Cardiff in 2007 in one of his defining fights.
But Froch is about much more than victories and defeats. He defines an attitude, a philosophy of boxing. It was a philosophy that used to be common in the sport but which has gone hopelessly out of fashion. Such is the vitality of the man, do not be surprised if it comes crashing back in style. And wouldn't that be great?