We're kicking off 2010 in style - BoxRec News speaks to our Fighter of the Year for 2009, Nottingham's charismatic WBC super-middleweight champion, Carl 'The Cobra' Froch.
You have gone the old, traditional route of belts which a lot of old school fans probably like (well, I do). Does you think this is important or doesn't it matter anymore?
There's a lot of bogus international titles and boxing organisations that popped up in the last few years - all with their WWE style gold and cubic zirconia belts to win. But there is no history attached to them and the boxing public like yourself don't care for them much - and if you're a fighter, you care even less for them too.
Obviously some fighters are at a level where it's the only type of 'world' title they can get for their trophy cabinet. It's a bit like being English and you cannot get in the squad - then playing football for another country because your great-grandad was born there. You get what you can.
But these interim belts and stuff are more about people coining it in and taking a slice of the fighter's purse to add a little prestige to their fight.
But the Lonsdale belt is a pure title and I think I helped make it fashionable again with my reign as British champion. I'm a massive advocate of the belt and told everyone that this is a genuine, legendary title - and not some phony WBU title.
Now I'm the WBC champion, which in my mind is the elite title in world boxing. I know they get stick like a lot of sanctioning bodies - but 'The Rumble in the Jungle' was for the WBC title and you see all the best champions holding the belt. Floyd Mayweather enters the ring and brings in all the mutilple WBC titles he's won - he don't bring in pony titles does he ?
So for me the respected path through the sport is to win the English, then the British, then the European and then a renowned world title.
Whilst I didn't get my hands of the Euro title as Gogiya avoided me, I managed to knock out the guy who'd gave him his only defeat in Sergey Tatevosyan. So that's a bit of a shame but my ranking with the WBC was so high that I just plumped for the shot at the title rather than wait.
The likes of Rendall Munroe are wearing the European title with pride now and doing well - and I wish Brian Magee luck too as I hear he is going for a Euro title shot again.
He was unlucky not to win it against Vitali Tyspko but hopefully can get his hands on it the second time as he's a good fighter. I heard he was going to Denmark like myself to fight their number two in Mads Larsen who is a decent challenge but I think Brian will be too much for him.
Legacy or money - which do you box for?
Legacy. When you achieve your dreams the money comes anyway. When I grew up I had pictures of boxing idols on my wall, not photos of bank notes. Besides if you're a manufactured fighter, being marketed, etc. then it always ends in tears.
Most boxing fans say you get hit too often. Do you accept this criticism?
Yes, and defence is something I tightened up against Dirrell, getting my hands up higher under certain attacks. But I've fought 26 opponents with a 'high guard' and beaten them all. I get comments all the time from spars that what they see on the TV and what they meet in the ring is like day and night. I'm a lot more awkward and unconventional that your typical fighter. But defence is something me and Rob work on. Honest !
Have you always had faith that your promoter, Mick Hennessy, would come good? Were you ever tempted to jump ship?
Loyalty is something I value very highly. I appreciate that a fighter has to mix things up if they aren't going right for them - but I always think anything can get resolved by just talking straight. And you'll not find a more straight pair of guys than Rob McCracken and Mick Hennessy. We've all got our faults and knockers, but in this sport you need trust. There's always interest out there without question, but there are upsides and downsides to every promoter.
Mick gets stick over TV coverage, but it's grim times at present. Primetime have their eyes really set on making the Froch v Kessler fight massive. It's shame he's lost his title, but the fight will still be a barnstormer - and fans can at least tune in and watch it on TV.
Primetime had their technical faults on their first show which was a shame and they were gutted, but the last show (Kessler v Ward) was spot on. They are boxing people and want to do well and we should all support them and not knock them.
Talking of TV, can you shed any light on Hennessy's TV situation? There are plenty of rumours flying about.
I'd love to know the answer to that one - but don't have any knowledge on what Mick's plans are right now, but fingers crossed, the shows with the rest of the stable on will hopefully be aired to as many viewers as possible. Darren Barker did impressive numbers the other weekend and hopefully that will help the cause. I know the Pascal fight went down a treat with the terrestrial viewers and even the Taylor fight, which went out on delay was nicely received - I was still Stateside when that aired but a few people swerved the result and thought it was an entertaining fight.
In this context, do you think boxing is pricing itself out of terrestrial television in the current climate?
No, I think it's more the other way around. I think TV is placing a lower and lower value on boxing and the sport is hitting a ceiling, when compared to other sports like football which financially, gets higher and higher each year. The grass roots stuff, which often sees the young guns coming through is not being covered and even the amateurs is not well received either. It would seem TV are only interested in marquee stuff but needs to realise that there is a massive market for hardcore and casual boxing fans out there. It galls me that we pay licence money by law, yet other sports like rowing get shown by the BBC and yet they offer no coverage at all for boxing.
Me and Haye were shown from our professional debuts on the BBC - and then they signed Audley.
Audley's gold medal was a huge ticket and the media coverage surrounding his pro debut really pulled in the figures at first, but they didn't like what they were watching and fizzled out. Since then they have washed their hands of it.
And lastly, regarding your recent critical comments on boxing's TV presenters - are there too many TV cheerleaders who are not prepared to tell it like it is?
Boxing is a tough sport, with people getting hit in the face for a living. So it's surprising some fighters and their promoters cannot take criticism too well and there are reporters and commentators who skirt round telling the truth to avoid upsetting people and getting left out in the cold when the next gig comes up.
I hear tales of people getting banned from covering shows because they wrote something that the fighter or promoter did not like which is naff.
I've got annoyed by 'bad' commentating on my own fights, where I've won a close but difficult round against a top opponent and they say "he can't keep doing this" etc. But that's something I've learned to live with or I just switch it off rather than let it cloud my view of a fight - but bad commentating and cheerleading are different things.
TV presenters are no different to fighters, we all have nights we do well and we all have nights we can improve on.
But 'telling the truth' is definitely being held back on some TV broadcasts and news publications to avoid upsetting people which is a shame. They need thicker skin!