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The Rounds Ep2 Carl Froch & Darren Barker

British Stars Talk Kessler, Abraham,

Ward, Martinez, Geale and Their Sparring Wars!

(May 287h)

Carl Froch and Darren Barker own some of the best wins on away territory by British fighters, and the duo talk about fighting on the road with Chris Algieri on the latest episode of ‘The Rounds’.


Froch began life as WBC World Super-Middleweight champion with a thrilling final round win over Jermain Taylor in Connecticut in April 2009, and then in 2010-11, ‘The Cobra’ went on the road during the Super Six series to face Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson and Andre Ward.


Barker’s first World title action saw him face the formidable Middleweight king Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City in October 2011 and then returned to the same city in August 2013 to achieve his World title dreams in dramatic fashion against IBF king Daniel Geale.


Both men open up on those trips and more, including great stories on their sparring sessions together.


Carl Froch: “I enjoyed being on the road. When we boxed for England we were going to hostile environments and fighting top fighters back-to-back in nations tournaments, but I was always a nervous fighter. So, when I defended my title against Jermain Taylor in Connecticut, I was nervous about it all.


“Not so much boxing abroad, but more that it was Taylor, a former undisputed Middleweight World champion. I saw him get out of this limousine for the press conference in NYC and he just looked like the don, he had this nice suit on and looked crisp and clean. I was just there with a hoodie and t-shirt and I was thinking ‘do I belong here?’ It was quite a daunting thing for me, and I was always quite nervous and apprehensive as a fighter, I was unsure of myself, and I was a new World champion and making my first defense. I didn’t really know if I belonged at World level and here I was fighting Taylor in America. I look back at that fight now and think how naive I was at that level and I just had to put all my trust in Rob McCracken and my fitness, my refusal to quit and my competitive nature, I like to win.


“[Kessler and the volcanic ash cloud] On Tuesday of fight week we had Sky News on and they were saying all the flights we grounded so I am thinking I am definitely not going, the US broadcasters aren’t going to be able to make it over, so it’s definitely off. We had a barbecue in the garden, I had a couple of cans of Guinness; I don’t drink much, and I had a couple of them in fight week! The next day my promoter rang me and said that the Sauerlands’s were sending a private jet and the flight was at 2pm. Private jet sounds glamorous but it wasn’t, it was a five-seater, it was bumpy all the way and Rob doesn’t like heights so he was white all the way and didn’t say a word, hanging onto the seat and looking at me, and I was winding him up saying ‘I think we’re bang in trouble here this plane is all over the place!’


“I crashed the weight which I never do, and at the weigh-in I felt weak. It’s the first and only time I ever did that, but I don’t want people to think I’m making an excuse, I felt good to fight and had a great 12 rounds against a brilliant fighter and I just didn’t quite do enough. But going over on the Wednesday under that ash cloud in fight week and being overweight, switching off, it was horrible. I believe that things happen for a reason though and in boxing you don’t win or lose, you win or learn. I learnt how to come back and in my next fight I fought Arthur Abraham and the WBC title was back up for grabs, that boosted my spirits and that loss then didn’t feel as bad.


“The loss with Andre Ward felt worse. Andre is a fantastic fighter, very skillful, fast, hard to hit, good with his jab. I remember getting out of the fight thinking, I had a decent rounds in 10, 11 and 12, and I was getting into it and I thought, why didn’t I start earlier, why didn’t I get into it, why didn’t I believe in myself? But that’s what we do when we lose, we look for reasons.”


Darren Barker: “I never felt more nervous or under pressure in the States and I think a big part of that was the experience of fighting all over the world as an amateur.


“I flew into New York with Eddie Hearn and we were in and out for the Martinez press conference, I remember the American’s almost laughing at me for showing any confidence, even though I was undefeated and European champion, I just hadn’t fought anybody. I was confident in my ability, but it was the unknown, I had sparred hundreds of rounds with Carl, an elite level fighter, but it’s still sparring. I knew I was capable of being in there with elite fighters, but I didn’t quite understand where I was at the time.


“I don’t have any regrets looking back at my career, but I have a slight one looking back at that fight because I think if I had believed in myself a little more, been more aggressive and forced the action more, then potentially I could have caused a huge upset. I’m not saying that it would have happened, I just wished I gave it a bit more. But the whole unbuild up was just the reason I chose boxing, I was on top of a huge skyscraper in New York for the presser and thinking, ‘this is it, I’ve made it’. I was walking up fifth avenue with Eddie and we walked past a shop with bright green trousers in the window and Eddie said: ‘you should buy them and wear them at the press conference for a laugh!’ I said: ‘no chance, I wouldn’t be seen dead in them!’ We got to the press conference and Sergio was wearing that exact pair of trousers!


“The Repton club had a knack of churning out top quality Southpaws so I was never fazed at fighting them, I knew I would be able to compete with him and it was a great experience for me and one that was massively valuable going onto the Geale fight.


“I’d been to Atlantic City for the Martinez fight, so it wasn’t alien to me and I was driven to right that wrong. We had a similar game plan, to be aggressive but smart, on the front-foot and hold center of the ring. It wasn’t until I got in there that I realized how awkward he was, he had a knack of getting out of range, I was falling short and adopted a different plan to get on his chest and outwork him.


“The moment I got put down in the sixth round, a lot of people know my brother Gary passed away, he was a very good fighter and if I had have lost that fight I would never have fought again, it would have been a box that hadn’t been ticked and it would have eaten away. So, I was just so prepared to leave everything in the ring that night that a body shot was never going to keep me down, fast-forward to the 12th round and hearing Michael Buffer say, ‘and the new’, I still can’t believe it. I achieved what I set out to do.


“There were a lot of question marks over my toughness, but I always knew I was tough. You don’t do 12 rounds of sparring with Carl and not be tough! I always knew there was a fight out there to show everyone I was mentally and physically tough.”

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About Matchroom Boxing

After the success of snooker in the 1980s, Matchroom Sport moved into boxing with two small hall shows followed by Frank Bruno v Joe Bugner at Tottenham Hotspur’s ground – the biggest boxing event of 1987. That launched the company into the boxing big-time, a position it has maintained ever since.


Through the 1990s Matchroom Sport’s boxing roster featured many of the biggest names in the sport including Lennox Lewis, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Steve Collins and Naseem Hamed, all in world title fights and it continues to work with some of the biggest names in UK boxing including Audley Harrison, the 2000 Olympic Super-Heavyweight gold medalist.


Over the years, Matchroom Sport has built up long-standing relationships with broadcasters around the world and with the advent of the Prizefighter phenomenon, the company’s boxing division has never been in a stronger position.


From fantastic six round scraps between the sport’s journeymen, up to multi-million-dollar World Championship contests featuring the above fighters, the Pro Box series has it all. Each show is packed with the very best in boxing action in a series that encompasses almost 25 years of Matchroom Sport’s commitment to bringing the highest quality to the global television market.

(May 18th) Three superstars of boxing join Chris Algieri to launch new show Mikey Garcia, Devin Haney and Daniel Jacobs discussed the highs and lows of their careers in the first episode of a new Matchroom Boxing YouTube Show called ‘The Rounds’ with former World champion Chris Algieri.


Each week, ‘The Rounds’ will feature Algieri and some of boxing’s best and brightest getting into deep dives on some of the specifics that make the Sweet Science tick, from making weight to fighting on the road, and from being an Olympian to facing retirement.


The first episode focuses on the hard times and setbacks that fighters have to endure along with the huge highs that they experience. All three men have won World titles and reaped the rich rewards, but first in the show, they revealed the struggles behind those successes.


Garcia on growing up in Oxnard, California.

“It was a very humble upbringing in Oxnard. My parents would come home after working in the strawberry fields for hours, my dad would go straight to the gym when he got home. I went to the gym as a kid to see my brother and others work out, but some people there didn’t make it.


“They got involved in gang-related activity and went to jail or got shot and stabbed. But the gym was a safe place, everyone that came to the gym aspired to do something better and most of the kids stayed on the right track because of boxing. Some of them didn’t make it in boxing, but they stayed off the streets because of the gym.”


Haney on missing out on the Olympics

“I was preparing at the Team USA training center and I was flying all over the world and fighting in Italy, Russia, Czech Republic, preparing to go to the Olympics. I was away from my family, I was doing online schooling, getting my mind ready to hopefully go to the Olympics.


“Then they changed the age rules, and I was in Colorado Springs when it happened, it was heartbreaking. It was always my dream to go to the Olympics and represent my country. Once I knew that it was impossible to go to the Olympics, we had to move forward, I said I was going to train and develop my pro style and become a pro fighter. I was going to turn pro in Mexico at the age of 16, but people were telling me not to do it, that it was corrupt over there and that I might get a bad decision, because at the time, not many people were going over there to do that, but now it’s changed.


“So, we prepared a little longer and the I was 17 that’s when I made my debut in Mexico.It was crazy, I didn’t know what to expect, the whole crowd was against me, it was a bar, 600-700 people all against me and I had to fight, but I feel it developed me in the right way.”


Jacobs on losing his Grandma before fighting and losing to Dmitry Pirog in a World title fight

“My Grandma was like my Mom and it hurt so deeply. I lost her days before the Pirog fight. We were all around her hospital bed literally days before the fight and I had to mentally wrap my head around it all as a young man. You really need time to digest a loss like that, and I was trying to do it in her honor.


“I was trying to psyche myself up to perform under that pressure and with those emotions, it was very challenging and that moment where I knew that things weren’t going to go well before I walked out of the locker room, I was zoned out, I was focused on the fight and ready to perform, but a subtle thought of my Grandma just had me crackling down, literally as I was walking. I had to suck it up and go out there and fight the best way I knew how with the stress that I was under, being such a young man, I was immature at the time and I needed time to grieve the passing of my Grandma and I learned the hard way, but in learning that, now I know that boxing is truly mostly a mental sport.


“As much as you go in there and you physically aim to knock the guy out, you have to be mentally prepared for battle, because you can go in there with a guy you know you can beat or challenge, but if you are not mentally equipped, the physical side we had 100 per cent, we learnt some valuable lessons for the future and we moved on for the better. I’ve learned so much from all three of my defeats, people take a lot of pride from having an ‘0’ and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think there’s something valuable from losing if you give it your all, you don’t quit and it’s honorable.”

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