CARL FROCH can remember his heart pounding out of his chest as he thinks about how Anthony Crolla may be feeling ahead of his rematch with Jorge Linares this weekend.

Exclusive: Carl Froch says Anthony Crolla will be nervous ahead of Jorge Linares rematch

The Nottingham fighter may have been resting up on the eve of his 31st professional fight and already a three-time world champion, but the nerves had kicked in.

Not usually one to get anxious the day before a bout, he felt it was strange but this was unchartered territory for him – a rematch against a foe who had beaten him.

Froch was preparing to defend his WBA and IBF super-middleweight titles against Mikkel Kessler, who had lost to three years earlier.

The Cobra would have too much for Kessler in their second clash as he avenged his 2010 defeat that was plagued by pre-fight issues, including the Volcanic ash cloud that caused travel havoc in Europe.

Now Crolla will look to get his revenge against the silky Linares at his home city’s Manchester Arena this Saturday after the Venezuelan relinquished him of the WBA lightweight title in September.

Crolla has been here before, having faced Derry Mathews again after a knockout defeat and then Darleys Perez to win the WBA belt after a controversial draw in their first meeting.

But this is going up against a man that had an obvious edge in their first meeting, much as Kessler did over Froch when they first met.

“I was nervous,” Froch recalled. “I remember going to bed the night before, and usually I sleep really well the day before a fight but I was nervous and my heart was racing.

“I was lying in bed thinking about the first fight, how I hit him with my best shots and he stood there looking at me. I knew the rematch was going to be tough.

“I remember the heart pounding inside my chest and feeling nervous. You carry those nerves into the day and until the first bell goes and you start exchanging the punches, it doesn’t go away.

“Everyone copes with it different. It’s like a fear. Crolla should use that to spur him on – that’s what I did. That fear factor gives you that extra percentage.”

Crolla, who was never meant to win a world title but has enjoyed a flourish late in his career, knows he needs to reach another new height if he is to inflict a fourth career defeat on Linares.

“He’s not going to outbox him,” Froch said. “He needs to put it on him and rough him up. If it was me I would be putting a nut in and that’s because of the type of fighter I am.

“You can be close to the edge of the rules and let the referee do his job. He’s got to get on his front foot, back up Linares and get rough. He needs to draw him into a dogfight.

“Linares will happily oblige him. Make him work earlier and hope he will tire. If you are a better athlete than someone and you have the better tactics then you can outwork them.

“Talent will beat hard work, but if talent doesn’t work hard then hard work can beat talent.”

Froch will be ringside working as a TV analyst on Saturday’s fight, as he is for most of the big nights since he hung up the gloves following his 2013 win over George Groves at Wembley Stadium.

He can get the feel for those big occasions and breathe in the atmosphere, but he does not miss being the one bringing the entertainment. He is happy to fill his time with his TV work and helping out on building sites developing some of the properties he owns.

Playing poker replaces the competetiveness and thrill of a fight that so many boxers struggle with post retirement. So even if his former promoter Eddie Hearn puts a cheque on the table for a big-money fight against someone like middleweight king Gennady Golovkin, the answer will be no.

“The last couple of fights I didn’t really enjoy training camp. My body was hurting, my head was sore, my lower back was sore, my Achilles tendon on my right foot was sore,” Froch said.

“All these little aches and pains when you get to 36 and 37 years old. You wake up and think, ‘Bloody hell, what is going on? Did I fall off a bike?’

“I knew I was ready to retire. On top of all the physical issues, the desire had gone too.

“Poker is something I genuinely enjoy and gives me the fix that I miss from boxing. When I’m sitting around a poker table, as stupid as it might sound, you get the adrenaline and the nerves that you get before a big fight.

“I’ve had nearly three years out. I might be a lot of things but I’m not stupid. You can maybe go back to football or tennis but if you go back to boxing and it goes wrong you need paramedics.

“I retired a champion and I will live the rest of my life as a champion. My legacy is intact.”

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