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.”


Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

Updated 21 April 2018
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Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

  • Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
  • Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.

A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.

POGBA TRANSFORMED
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.