Carl Froch says Saudi Arabia showdown between Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev could define careers

Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev will meet in the cruiserweight final of the World Boxing Super Series in Jeddah next month. Carl Froch believes it will be career-defining fight. (Getty)
Updated 15 April 2018
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Carl Froch says Saudi Arabia showdown between Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev could define careers

  • Usyk and Gassiev to meet in Jeddah on May 11
  • Froch likens competition to the one that gave him chance to shine

LONDON: Carl Froch believes Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev can use the final of the World Boxing Super Series in Jeddah as a launchpad to stardom.
The retired super-middleweight entered a similar knockout competition in 2009 — one also overseen by Sauerland Promotions — as a fighter struggling for recognition and finished it having established himself as one of Britain’s greats.
And Froch is certain the same springboard effect could be felt by Usyk and Gassiev.
The pair fight for the IBF, WBA, WBO and WBC cruiserweight titles at King Abdullah Sports City on May 11 in what is being billed as one of the fights of the year. The winner will be $10 million richer, will unify the division and land the Ali Trophy. They could also take a step toward greatness.
“The Super Six was a real way to establish myself as one of the best super-middleweights ever,” Froch told Arab News. “Without that tournament, would I have fought Andre Ward and would I have fought Kessler and Abraham, under those circumstances? Probably not. It’s good for your legacy. After coming out of the Super Six, I was made a household name. I beat (Lucien) Bute, and then got the Kessler rematch, and then I got Groves I and Groves II. That was massive.
“In the Super Series the boys are getting paid really well, which is good. I don’t think the loser (of the final) is done any harm at all. They’ll check their bank balance after the final and think ‘That was worth doing.’ It’s a good format, a good structure, and it works.”
The World Boxer Super Series started at the quarterfinal stage and Usyk and Gassiev have both come through two tough fights to make it to the final in Saudi Arabia, particularly the semifinals when they faced unbeaten opponents. Usyk outpointed Mairis Briedis in a slugfest and then Gassiev produced one of the punches of his career to stop Yunier Dorticos. “You’ve got guaranteed fights against top-level fighters,” said Froch. “All the promotion, publicity and profile, the marketing that goes with it, the production, for the television. We did a Fight Camp 360, building up, a little series. To get the exposure on camera, and then on fight night going in there, it’s all really, really good experience for you. You’re fighting the best as well, the best in the division. It is good, mentality-wise. If you keep winning, you know the opportunity is there to get fights, to fight the best.”
The super-middleweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series caught the imagination of the British public because it involved two of their high-profile fighters in George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr. The cruiserweight version, on the other hand, has broader appeal and will serve up the year’s most significant fight.
“It’s one of those divisions that’s stuck in the middle, between light-heavyweight and heavyweight,” Froch said. “They’re not quite big enough to be heavyweight. When David Haye was at cruiserweight, the world champion, he soon realized ‘I’m not going to make any money here’. He tried to become a heavyweight, just to make money and get some kind of legacy. Evander Holyfield did the same.
“If you’re stuck in that weight division: [the WBSS] is good for their earnings and for them to have something to look back on. It’s good for those that are involved. There’s some good fighters in the cruiserweight division, and the ones that are in this tournament.”


Liverpool return to top of the table with 3-1 win over arch-rivals Manchester United

Updated 16 December 2018
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Liverpool return to top of the table with 3-1 win over arch-rivals Manchester United

  • Shaqiri braces gives Reds deserved win over United at Anfield.
  • Mourinho's men well beaten as Liverpool leapfrog Manchester City ti return to top of the table.

LIVERPOOL: Two deflected Xherdan Shaqiri strikes handed Liverpool victory over Manchester United in the Premier League for the first time in nine attempts as Jurgen Klopp’s men moved back to the top of the table with a 3-1 win at Anfield on Sunday.
United manager Jose Mourinho claimed ahead of the game that the league leaders have had luck on their side this season, but while there was fortune in substitute Shaqiri’s two goals in the final 17 minutes, the visitors did not deserve anything more than a fifth defeat of the season.
Liverpool leapfrogged Manchester City to finish the weekend where they started, a point clear at the top, and move a mammoth 19 clear of United, who remain in sixth and are now 11 points off the top four.
The contrasting form showed by both sides this season continued as United strained to keep a rampant Liverpool at bay and were only level for so long thanks to a huge error by home goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Sadio Mane had given Liverpool the lead before Jesse Lingard levelled when Alisson dropped a routine cross at the feet of the England international.
United had the ball in the net first on a rare foray forward but Romelu Lukaku was flagged offside despite not getting a touch to Ashley Young’s free-kick.
But Liverpool then laid siege to the visitors’ goal with David de Gea stretching to keep out a low drive from Roberto Firmino, Young clearing off the line and Fabinho firing wide from the edge of the box.
Only Manchester City have kept Klopp’s side from scoring in the Premier League this season and a United defense that has kept just one clean sheet in the league since September never looked capable of holding out like they had in their two previous visits to Anfield.
Mourinho’s men were finally breached when Mane controlled Fabinho’s chipped ball into the box on his chest and volleyed past the onrushing De Gea.
However, Liverpool’s momentum was punctured by an Alisson gift 12 minutes before the break.
The Brazilian was Liverpool’s hero with an injury-time save to secure the Reds’ place in the last 16 of the Champions League against Napoli on Tuesday.
But he spilled Lukaku’s simple cross into the path of the grateful Lingard to bundle the ball into an unguarded net.
The second half followed a similar pattern with one-way traffic toward the Kop as Liverpool sought the goal to take them back to the top of the table.
De Gea scrambled low to his left to palm Firmino’s prodded effort to safety, while Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk saw efforts deflected behind.
Jurgen Klopp turned to Shaqiri to unlock the United defense 20 minutes from time and the Swiss international needed just three to put Liverpool back in front.
De Gea did well to prevent Ander Herrera turning Mane’s cross into his own net, but the ball fell for Shaqiri and his effort cannoned off Young and in off the underside of the bar.
Seven minutes later, Shaqiri got lucky again when, this time on his favored left foot, his shot flicked off the diving Eric Bailly to leave De Gea helpless.