Carl Froch says he has ‘big hopes’ for East Lancashire fighter Luke Blackledge after meeting up with his former sparring partner in Gisburn.
Froch was at Stirk House as guest of honour for a dinner hosted by Kevin Maree, popping into the hotel’s boxing gym to act out the punch that knocked out George Groves in front of 80,000 at Wembley in May.
The super middleweight world champion also posed for pictures with local boxers including Accrington’s Blackledge, who sparred with Froch before the Nottingham man’s first fight with Groves at the end of last year.
Blackledge boxed on the undercard of that bout in Manchester, suffering a first-round knockout defeat to Rocky Fielding as he challenged for the Commonwealth super middleweight title.
The 24-year-old has been slowly rebuilding since then, winning the WBC international silver belt last month, and Froch is confident that the Fielding defeat did not spell the end of Blackledge’s hopes of success at the top level.
“You can come back from a loss,” Froch told the Lancashire Telegraph.
“Rocky Fielding has proved to be a very good fighter at super middleweight so to lose to somebody like him isn’t the end of the world, it really isn’t. Luke has just got to pick himself up and it’s how he comes back now.
“He is too tough for his own good. He’s a real strong solid hard man like myself, he’s a great fighter. I’ve got big hopes for him.
“But there’s more to becoming a world champion than being tough and strong, you’ve got to be skilful.
“He can fight, he’s skilful and he’s good enough, but it’s getting the opportunities and sometimes being in the right place at the right time.
“You’ve got to put yourself in front of your opponent and you’ve got to do the business.
“He’s just got to keep training hard and keep his fitness up. I’m sure he’ll do well.”
Froch’s presence in Gisburn drew large numbers to Stirk House and the 37-year-old admits the respect he has received since his victory over Groves at Wembley has meant a lot to him.
“The reception I got from people here was fabulous and I’m finding that everywhere I go now since the George Groves fight,” he said.
“It means a great deal to me. It was such a grudge match and such a big fight and to end it in the way I did, I think it was received very well by everyone up and down the country.
“It’s strange because I’ve had a fantastic career fighting the best of the best for so many years and then you come up against a kid who was not really the best fighter in the world, but because he did so well in the first fight and he’s got such a gob on him it captured the public’s imagination.
“Now that seems to be the fight that has defined my career and secured my legacy.
“It was a big fight with a lot of pressure, so to dismantle him the way I did with that right hand that cracked him on the jaw, that’s a punch I’ll never forget and I’m still smiling four or five months later.”
Froch’s mandatory challenger for his IBF world title is James DeGale but he remains adamant that he will retire if he cannot secure a dream fight in Las Vegas against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
“I’ll happily knock James DeGale out but I’m looking for a big fight, something new,” Froch said.
“For me, going over to Las Vegas and fighting Chavez would really get me motivated. That’s what I want to do next.
“It could happen. I’ve been speaking to the guys at Top Rank (Chavez’s promoters), he’s still contracted for one more fight and they’re sort of forcing him to fight me or he’s going to be struggling to get out of his contract.
“Whether that will make the fight happen, who knows? If it doesn’t I might retire.
“That wouldn’t be hard at all because I’ve had a fantastic career, I’ve reached financial security, I’m four-time champion of the world.
“I’ve got two wonderful children and a beautiful partner and there’s nothing really left for me to prove in the sport. I could happily retire, I could hang up my gloves now with a big smile.”