New York is a premier tourist destination. Last year, tourists spent $20.3 billion in the city, second only to London ($25.6) in terms of visitor spending. Travelers, by and large, love the culture, the shopping, the sights, the humming 24-7 vibe.
Not so Carl "The Cobra" Froch.
The 33-year-old Nottingham, England, native has been in the city for two weeks, and he's not afraid to give the whole experience a voracious thumbs down. The super middleweight boxer, who holds the WBC 168-pound crown, has been living in NYC ahead of his Saturday showdown in Atlantic City with Glen Johnson, a 42-year-old Jamaican-born hitter.
Froch is seen as the clear-cut favorite going into the event, which is a semifinal match in the cable network Showtime's "Super Six" tournament. The winner gets to fight Andre Ward, an Oakland-based pugilist, in the fall.
But Froch (27-1 with 20 KOs) wasn't in a mood to focus on the positive, like the three big-name scalps on his tourney résumé (Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell, Arthur Abraham), at a Wednesday press conference at the Edison Ballroom on West 47th. His appraisal of NYC will not be highlighted by the city tourist commission.
"I got here two weeks ago, and it's overcrowded, you can't get a taxi, the weather has been terrible, it's been humid, and the apartment I've been staying in is so small, you can't swing a cat around in there," he said, without a hint of a grin. To add to the insult, his 11-month-old son Rocco took his first steps on Sunday, and Froch learned about it via text, from his galpal Rachael Cordingley. "I was angry, and upset."
Froch told ESPNNewYork that he won't let his feelings about the city distract him from his task, which is to make sure Johnson doesn't pull a Bernard Hopkins and show the young gun that age is just a number. "The experience makes you realize what you're doing all this for," he said. "You do have to make sacrifices to get ahead in boxing. But it definitely angered me, because the reason I'm here is for Johnson."
Johnson (51-14-2 with 35 KOs), a Miami resident, is a genial sort whose nickname is "The Road Warrior." He's at ease with going where he needs to go to get a chance at a significant win and a healthy payday. "I was a fat guy at 175 pounds," he said with a smile, "and now I'm a lean, mean machine."
Rest assured, Johnson was no candidate for a stint on "The Biggest Loser." But after Mikkel Kessler exited the tourney because of injury, Johnson decided he'd trim down and give 168 a go after 10-plus years at 175. His tourney debut, against Allan Green in November, gave him a kick start, as he felt stellar and looked even better, stopping Green in the eighth round.
Froch is of a higher caliber, physically and mentally, though, than Green. The Brit said today that he wouldn't allow Johnson to win a single round on Saturday, let alone the fight. That won't likely be the case, but expect Froch to funnel his ire effectively and win a comfortable decision against the oldster.
Mike Woods is the editor of TheSweetScience.com.