ATLANTIC CITY - WBC super-middleweight champion Carl Froch sipped coffee at the Starbucks at the Pier at Caesars Thursday afternoon before taking a stroll on the boardwalk.
Passersby ignored him. A guy dressed in a bright yellow chicken suit drew all the attention from fellow strollers and rolling chair operators searching for fares.
"It's better than sitting in a pub," the Nottingham, England resident said with a smile. "My mother (Carol) managed pubs for years. I basically spent all my time in them from (ages) 14 to 26. I got to be pretty good at slot machines and pool. I could never understand why people played the slot machines, though. The jackpot on those things was only nine dollars worth of tokens."
Froch (28-1, 20 Kos) hasn't tried his luck in the Atlantic City casinos. His only gambling will take place on Saturday night, when he faces WBA champion Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), of Oakland, Calif., in the much-anticipated final of Showtime's "Super Six World Boxing Classic" at Boardwalk Hall.
Approximately 1,000 fans are scheduled to make the trip from England for the 12-round bout. Froch may have had even more supporters had the fight been held on Oct. 29 as originally scheduled, but it had to be rescheduled after Ward suffered a cut while sparring.
"I've come up the hard way, but I'm finally starting to get the recognition and credit I deserve," Froch said. "People are counting on my to restore pride in British boxing. I'm pretty much the last man standing."
British boxing fans have been searching for a hero since former champions Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton retired in recent years. Heavyweight David Haye lost a lot of support with a listless performance against champion Wladimir Klitschko last July. Middleweight prospect Darren Barker, who suffered an 11th-round knockout loss to Sergio Martinez at Boardwalk Hall two months ago, has yet to record a signature victory. Former super-welterweight champ Amir Khan suffered a split decision loss to Lamont Peterson last week.
The new face of boxing in England sports a flat nose, the result of taking on a never-ending series of hard-hitting opponents during a nine-year pro career. Unlike some champions and prospects, Froch has seldom fought a pushover. His last 18 opponents had a combined record of 449-63-12 at the time he faced them.
"The problem is that every U.K. boxer talks a great fight, but they've seldom delivered," Froch's promoter, Eddie Hearn, said Thursday. "You know what you're going to get with Carl Froch. I'm expecting an impressive performance from Carl on Saturday night. I want him to beat Ward in devastating fashion."
PUNCHLINES: The Froch-Ward weigh-in will take place 4 p.m. Friday at Caesars' Circus Maximus Theatre. Admission is free. ... Steve Smoger will serve as referee for Froch-Ward. John Keane (England), Craig Metcalfe (Canada) and John Stewart (New Jersey) are the judges. ... Doors to Boardwalk Hall open at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with the first undercard bout slated for 6 p.m. Froch-Ward will start at 9:20 p.m. on Showtime. ... Tickets are priced from $50 to $300 and are available through pressofatlanticcity.com/tickets.