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Five possible opponents for Carl Froch

Sports Mole picks out five possible opponents for Carl Froch for when he returns to the ring later this year.

After defeating Mikkel Kessler in May, IBF super-middleweight champion Carl Froch revealed that he wants several big-name bouts to end his career.

A unification clash with Andre Ward was soon touted, but Froch's camp have indicated that it would only take place during 2014.

That has left the Nottingham fighter with a date to fill for the winter, and many domestic and world fighters have been linked with the 36-year-old.

Below, Sports Mole have picked out five names that could step into the ring with Froch.

George Groves during an interview on January 23, 2012© PA Photos
George Groves

Promoter Eddie Hearn represents both Froch and George Groves, and he has always insisted that he preferred to delay the inevitable encounter between the two.

However, after Groves was installed as the mandatory challenger for Froch's IBF belt, talks are reported to be at an advanced stage regarding a potential match.

Groves has recently stated his desire to fight Froch, but while it looks likely that a deal will be struck, Hearn could plan out a different route for the unbeaten boxer.

The experienced Froch would go into the fight as the overwhelming favourite, but the 25-year-old would no doubt test the champion.

Danish boxer Mikkel Kessler in a press conference for his fight against Carl Froch on February 4, 2013© AP Photos
Mikkel Kessler

Froch's points victory over Mikkel Kessler avenged the defeat that he had suffered to the Dane in 2010.

After their pulsating battle in May, there were immediate calls for a third tussle between the two on neutral territory.

Kessler's future in the sport is currently unknown after suffering just the third loss of his career.

But if the 34-year-old states that he still has the desire for one more match, it is not out of the question that the two friends could go to war once again.

Nathan Cleverly© PA Photos
Nathan Cleverly

Nathan Cleverly is the reigning WBO light-heavyweight champion, and is currently preparing to face unbeaten Russian Sergey Kovalev in August.

However, the Welshman has not been shy in revealing his ambition to battle Froch in a domestic tussle sometime in the future.

Froch has already dismissed an offer from Cleverly's promoter Frank Warren, despite the undefeated 26-year-old insisting that he would be prepared to move down to super-middleweight to take the fight.

A bout between the two looks unlikely, but if a deal cannot be agreed with either Groves or Kessler, Froch would have to consider a showdown with Cleverly.

James DeGale© PA Photos
James DeGale

After losing to Groves in 2011, DeGale has bounced back with six victories in a row to put himself in contention for a world title bout.

The 27-year-old is currently ranked in the top 10 of three of the five major organisations, including being just one behind Groves in the IBF list.

If Groves pursues another route to a world title, DeGale could be next in line, and he would jump at the chance to face Froch.

The Olympic gold medallist believes that the world champion would not be able to handle his style, and there is a small chance that he could be given the opportunity to back up his talk.

German boxer Robert Stieglitz celebrates winning the WBO super middleweight title against Arthur Abraham on March 23, 2013© AP Photos
Robert Stieglitz

WBO champion Robert Stieglitz is considered an unlikely name to face Froch on paper, but a match could give the Englishman more power if he were to negotiate an encounter with Andre Ward.

If Froch could capture Stieglitz's belt in a unification bout, the 36-year-old could claim that he is the bigger name before a rematch with Ward.

Stieglitz is also an important name to Groves and DeGale, who are both ranked number one and number three respectively for the 32-year-old's title.

If Stieglitz opts to face one of the three British boxers, it is likely to free up the chance for the other two to clash at the end of the year.

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George Groves during an interview on January 23, 2012
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