James DeGale is giving Carl Froch itchy fists -- but the Cobra must be cautious

Carl Froch faced George Groves twice, beating him both times, before eventually retiring in July Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Callum Smith won his old British title, James DeGale has his old world title belt, and after 18 months it looks like Carl Froch is getting itchy fists.

The Cobra last fought when he knocked out George Groves in front of 80,000 people at Wembley in May 2014 before officially retiring in July of this year -- but now he is starting to think about fights.

DeGale beat Andre Dirrell to win the IBF super-middleweight title in May and makes his first defence later this month against Lucian Bute. Both Dirrell and Bute were Froch victims and that seems to annoy the man from Nottingham.

"The desire is gone, but it could come back and DeGale beating Bute might be all it takes," Froch said. "It's an easy job for me."

Whether he gets back in the ring or not, it is fighting talk from Froch, who has never disguised his feelings towards DeGale.

"I just hope that the people surrounding Froch can talk some sense into him" Steve Bunce

A return against a fighter like DeGale, who relies on speed and timing, would be a mistake without a warm-up. A massive mistake. Froch has been gone too long and ego and self-deception are no help if a fighter has lost his eye, his timing and his lack of real desire. Froch would have beaten DeGale last November, fresh from the Groves fight, but now it would be much harder.

However, expect DeGale, a fighter still looking for an audience, to start selling the fight. It makes perfect sense for him and would make him a fortune. I just hope that the people surrounding Froch can talk some sense into him and he, having chased Joe Calzaghe, should realise that no fighter can beat the clock once the bell sounds.

On Smith, meanwhile, Froch was full of praise. Smith joined his three brothers as a British champion when he won an unexpected shootout with Rocky Fielding for the vacant super-middleweight title in Liverpool at the weekend, and Froch said: "He can really fight, he's the future." Smith dropped Fielding three times.

The win puts Smith, who will most likely move to light-heavyweight in the next 18 months, in a strong position in the division that British boxers have dominated for a quarter of a century.

Martin Murray could win the WBO version of the title when he fights Arthur Abraham, another Froch victim, in Germany on November 21. Murray, like DeGale, has also received a bit of stick from Froch. It all makes for an interesting few months and if Murray can beat Abraham and DeGale does a job on Bute, the war of words with Froch will no doubt intensify.

The main onlooker here is Groves, twice a victim at the fists of Froch, and the man that gave DeGale his only defeat as a professional. Groves is nursing his battered pride right now, after losing a tight decision to Badou Jack for a version of the world title in September. He is, however, on his way back.

So, Froch is thinking of DeGale, Murray would like a bit of Froch, DeGale will fight any of them and Groves is being considered as some type of sacrifice for Smith.

And this is before we get to unbeaten Jamie Cox. A Commonwealth games champion as an amateur, Cox won for the 20th time as professional on Saturday with a third consecutive first round blow-out. He is, trust me, right in the mix. It's all good in the British super-middleweight division.

Buncey's Vaults

Neville Brown retained his British middleweight title one night in Cannock but the story of the night was Karl Taylor's win over double world champion Dingaan Thobela.

"Defeat was a major setback for Thobela, the former WBO and WBA lightweight champion, who was due to challenge for a third world title in Sun City on January 28."

Taylor had recently shown his class in a draw with former world title challenger Michael Ayers.

"Taylor, 28, from Birmingham, improved to 12 wins, 22 defeats and two draws since turning professional in 1987 but, like a number of reliable losers -- mistakenly called bad fighters by some people -- many of his defeats have been somewhat contentious."

The win was enough to get Taylor a British title fight against Ayers; he lost and finally walked away from the sport in 2010 after 165 fights, including 142 defeats.

Thobela, bizarrely, moved up five weight categories and won the WBC super-middleweight title in 2000.

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, December 1, 1994