Could Carl Froch Steal Andre Ward's Thunder in Bout with Adonis Stevenson?

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2013

The Cobra could steal some of Andre Ward's thunder with a big 2013.
The Cobra could steal some of Andre Ward's thunder with a big 2013.Scott Heavey/Getty Images

With recent reports that recognized super middleweight champion Andre Ward will miss significant time with a shoulder injury, the division appears more open than it has been in some time. 

And it appears that two of the weight class's other top fighters are headed for a showdown that could potentially clear up the logjam behind the Oakland-based champion.

IBF champion Carl "The Cobra" Froch seems destined, after on-again, off-again negotiations, to defend his title against mandatory challenger Adonis Stevenson in the spring.

The bout is most likely headed for April or May and could be a great opportunity for Froch to continue down the path toward establishing himself as the second-best fighter in the division.

A win would pave the way for a unification rematch with WBA champion Mikkel Kessler and a chance to avenge an old defeat.

In 2010, Kessler won a competitive unanimous decision over "The Cobra" to capture his WBC title.

The winner of that bout would be firmly established as the logical challenger to Ward's throne, though he owns a win over both of them, or even as the heir apparent should the champion decide to jump to light-heavyweight.

But first, Froch needs to get by the hard-hitting Canadian Stevenson, who will be looking to upset the apple cart in a big way and establish himself as a legitimate threat at 168 pounds. 

He's yet untested, but comes from a solid pedigree as one of the final fighters trained by the late great Emanuel Steward before his passing earlier this year.

In many ways, this is a perfect chance for Carl Froch to steal some of the thunder Andre Ward has spent the last two years building.

While nobody is saying that anyone but Ward can lay claim to the legitimate championship at 168 pounds without him vacating it or beating him, a few things come to mind.

For one, despite his dominant win over Chad Dawson last September, Ward was relatively inactive even before his recent injury.

The Dawson fight was Ward's only bout of 2012 and came after a near-year layoff after his win against Froch to claim the super six crown. 

With surgery on his shoulder now looming, it is unclear when, or even if, Ward will return this year.

And if he does, it's not certain that he will regain his old form. Shoulder injuries in boxing are always tricky, and the full extent of the damage is not yet known.

In Ward's absence, there is a huge void at the top, and Froch could fill it with a big performance against Stevenson, followed up by avenging his loss to Kessler. 

It's clear that the latter fight was their preferred bout, but when you hold a sanctioning body title, you have to play by their rules.

And right now, their rules say Froch must defend against Stevenson. 

It may not be the fight he wants, but it will be a good one and could go a long way towards establishing him as the best fighter at 168 pounds not named Andre Ward.