Fear for Froch
Few fighters retire at the top, but can Carl Froch walk away from a rematch with George Groves and a multi-million pound payday. We assess whether 'The Cobra' should hang 'em up.
By Adam Norman: Twitter @SkySportsNorm
Last Updated: 26/11/13 6:02pm
It would certainly surprise many should the three-time world super-middleweight champion decide to call an end to a remarkable career that has seen him develop from a late-to-the-pro-ranks fighter into a dominant British, Commonwealth and world titlist.
And yet Froch has been involved in some of the toughest fights of the past decade, from his breakthrough against Jean Pascal to the wars with Mikkel Kessler and, of course, Saturday's brutal engagement with a man 11 years his junior.
Carl's trademark low left hand means he has always been open to the right hook throughout his career, but that has been his way and with a chin of granite, why change a winning formula?
However, it must surely be of some concern to Froch's close family and support group that the 36-year-old is in danger of taking one blow too many - one that could have life-changing consequences.
Ringside on Saturday night it was noticable that, even before the heavy knockdown late in the first round, Froch appeared to lack his usual sharpness. Was that nerves, the pressure of defending his legacy against a man he simply could not afford to lose to? Or is age finally catching up with him?
After the knockdown, understandably it took him a couple of rounds to settle into the fight. Yet in the sixth he shipped up to 10 shots absolutely flush in the face through a defence that was, even by his standards, non-existent.
It proved once again that Froch has one of the best chins in the business, and told Groves that winning world titles - on this night at least - doesn't come easy.
But at what cost to the champion's long-term health? Talk of a rematch will burn slowly over the coming weeks and months, a period which Froch has promised to devote to his young family. Surely, also, there will be time to reflect on a glorious career, and, whether he can go to the well once more.
Groves' trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick, aired his fears for Froch ahead of a possible rematch in 2014. "Carl Froch would need to get fully medically checked for me to be involved," he said. "Carl took severe punishment... I think he got hurt more in that fight than collectively in his whole career.
"The reason he needs to get medically checked is that if George does fight him again, I believe I have a plan to put together to stop him in three to four rounds."
Fitzpatrick doesn't seem the type to be partial to bravado. His fears are genuine and he, more than most, would know exactly how hard Groves can punch.
But can Froch walk away from the sport with so many question marks hanging over his last fight? He and his trainer Rob McCracken are convinced that Groves was spared by the referee from a worse beating and that Howard Foster was fully justified in stopping the fight when he did.
They are in a rather small minority - but they will stick to that belief. Perhaps only Carl knows how much strength he had left for what could have been three-and-a-half more pulsating, brutal rounds. Few would disagree that he had started to turn the fight around at the time of Foster's intervention. But, in the eyes of many, he must still prove he is better than Groves.
The public, and of course Groves, demand a rematch after such an unsatisfactory conclusion. Froch admits George deserves one. Perhaps by next summer, after 'The Cobra' turns 37 and the memories of November 23 have faded into history, the pair will face each other again for double the money, and glory.
Only Carl knows if he needs either.
Read Johnny Nelson's full article on why he thinks Carl Froch should now retire from boxing here