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.”


Joe Root’s century seals England series win over India, maintains No. 1 ODI ranking

Updated 17 July 2018
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Joe Root’s century seals England series win over India, maintains No. 1 ODI ranking

  • This was Root’s second unbeaten century in successive innings
  • Joe Root became England’s leading one-day international century-maker

LEEDS: Joe Root became England’s leading one-day international century-maker as an innings of exactly 100 not out on his Headingley home ground saw the hosts to an eight-wicket victory over India on Tuesday and a 2-1 series win.
This was Root’s second unbeaten century in successive innings after his 113 not out helped England level the three-match contest with an 86-run win at Lord’s on Saturday.
This latest hundred was also Test skipper Root’s 13th in ODIs, taking him past the England record of 12 he had previously shared with Marcus Trescothick.
Tuesday saw Root and one-day captain Eoin Morgan (88 not out) share an unbroken third-wicket stand of 186 as England, first in the ODI rankings to their opponents’ second, ended India’s run of nine straight bilateral series wins in style.
England, who will be bidding to win the World Cup for the first time when they stage next year’s edition, had said they would treat Tuesday’s match as a dress rehearsal for a winner-takes-all game at the showpiece tournament.
And that made the comprehensive manner of their victory all the more satisfying for Morgan’s men.
It was England’s bowlers who set up this win, with Adil Rashid and David Willey, two of the five Yorkshire cricketers in their XI, taking three wickets apiece.
But, after left-arm quick Willey had kept things tight early on, it was leg-spinner Rashid who did significant damage by taking two wickets in an over.
He bowled India captain and star batsman Virat Kohli (71), as well as dismissing Suresh Raina, on his way to three for 49 in a maximum 10 overs.
Willey, who took three for 40 in nine overs, received excellent new-ball support from Durham quick Mark Wood (one for 30).
Root, who was dropped from the final match of England’s preceding 2-1 Twenty20 series loss, told Sky Sports: “It feels fantastic.
“To come into a big series like this and perform how we have as a side is great.”
Morgan added: “I think we were outstanding. I think the tone was set by the bowlers early on, David Willey and Mark Wood were on the money. From that point there was no let up.”
Meanwhile Kohli accepted his side had been outplayed.
“I thought we were never on the mark as far as runs on the board were concerned, we were 25-30 short, and England were really clinical with the bat and in the field as well,” he said.
After Morgan won the toss, Rohit Sharma, who scored a superb century during India’s eight-wicket win in the series-opener at Trent Bridge, struggled to make two off 18 balls, his innings ending when he flicked Willey to Wood at deep square leg.
Opening partner Shikhar Dhawan made a fluent 44 before was run out by Stokes’s direct hit.
Dinesh Karthik, preferred to KL Rahul for this match, then made 21 before he was bowled between bat and pad by Rashid.
Kohli pressed on, however, completing a 55-ball fifty before Rashid struck twice in six balls as India slumped to 158 for five.
He bowled Kohli with a superb leg-break and had Raina caught low at leg-slip by Root.
James Vince, called up in place of the injured Jason Roy cut the first ball of England’s reply, from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, for four.
Vince’s frustrating England career has seen him repeatedly get out on Tuesday he fell for a run-a-ball 27, although it needed a brilliant one-handed take by wicket-keeper Dhoni, from Hardik Pandya’s throw, to run him out.
But by then England were 74 for two inside 10 overs, well above the required run-rate.
Root, stumped off a Yuzvendra Chahal no-ball on 69, went to his century when he pulled Pandya through midwicket for his 10th four in 120 balls as England won with 33 deliveries to spare.
An elated Root celebrated by dropping his bat to the ground — the ‘mic drop’ gesture more associated with rock stars and stand-up comedians than cricketers.