For twenty odd years, boxing’s super-middleweight division has been synonymous with fighters from the British isles. From Nigel Benn to Michael Watson to Chris Eubank to, the greatest of them all, Steve Collins the 90’s were jam-packed with British and Irish warriors. Following that, Welshman Joe Calzaghe dominated the 168 pounds division for ten years before retiring undefeated in 2007. On Saturday night, the new breed of British super-middleweights clashed as undefeated rising star ‘Saint’ George Groves took on IBF and WBA champion, Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch at the Phones4u Arena in Manchester, England.
This fight was preceded by a heated build-up between the former sparring partners. Froch claimed he had knocked down and badly hurt Groves when they sparred. Groves responded by claiming his knee merely touched the ground and followed it by a domination of Froch two days after. Groves later taunted Froch’s mental ability and his performances in the super 6 tournament – pointing out he finished with two losses and no titles (Froch would later regain his world champion status against Lucien Bute).
At the weigh-in, a heated exchange ended with the fighters having to be separated the day after a pre-fight press-conference where Groves seemingly gave away his gameplan. The challenger claimed he would greet Froch in the middle of the ring and catch him with two right hands before getting his jab going in the second and fighting it out toe-to-toe in centre-ring throughout the third.
Round one was a tentative battle to start as both men traded jabs. The two right hands Groves promised, though, did arrive. The first hurt Froch. The second unbelievable knocked him down and shook him to his bones. Froch arose with wobbly legs and was caught with another shot before being saved by the bell.
Froch clearly wasn’t recovered in the second, his legs were on a different path to his top half as Groves was faster to the jab and landed right hands at will. The challenger big brothered the reigning champion as he had promised.
In the third Froch was recovered and began to get back into it. Groves was still first to the jab but Froch was winning the wild exchanges of hooks in an amazing round. Groves ended the round with a badly swollen left eye after catching one of Froch’s many right hooks.
The fourth frame was an uneventful one. Groves was continually faster to the jab again and caught Froch with two huge shots; one to the body, the other a straight right to the dome.
Froch’s fight started in round five. He claimed the centre of the ring and went to war. Groves, though, gave no quarter and answered with powerful shots of his own. A late combination of hooks sealed Froch, maybe, his first round of the fight.
The sixth round was an amazing one – by far the best of the fight. Groves unloaded power right hand after power right hand. On the eight clear shot to the head, Froch was still standing. Groves kept throwing and the zombie-like Froch answered with a late flutter in yet another clear round for the challenger.
In the seventh Carl Froch looked all his thirty-six years. Groves was clearly the faster and stronger as the wooden Froch had no answer for the perfect timing of his youthful opponent. With five rounds left Froch needed a miracle.
In the eight the thirty-six years of experience shone through as Froch showed why he is a multiple time champion. The Nottingham fighter came out and got his second wind; throwing with a renewed vigour. It was a rough and tumble round with the desperate Froch rushing Groves in the closest round of the fight.
Then the miracle came. Before the ninth, referee Howard Foster warned both fighters in an increasingly niggly fight. It wasn’t the last we heard of him. Froch knew he was well behind in the fight and threw with everything he had. Groves was caught with a flurry of shots and backed up against the ropes. Unbelievably, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. It was one of the worst and most ridiculous stoppages ever seen. Groves was well ahead in the fight but in the end Froch won the most tainted of knockout victories.
Following the fight and the disgraceful stoppage; both fighters and promoter Eddie Hearn promised an immediate rematch. It’s the fight that has to be made. This is boxing though and you can’t be certain about anything. If it doesn’t materialize; a second fight with Andre Ward would really whet the appetite for Froch, although Ward looks unwilling to rematch a fighter he defeated so easily first time around. Another option is the rubber match with Mikel Kessler. Both men share a win each in their respective home-countries and a 3rd in a neutral venue could be possible. The fight internationally fans would probably want the most apart from the Groves rematch is Froch and the Kazakh killer Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin. Froch is quoted as saying in would be willing to take the fight. For GGG it would be the step up in opponent his career is desperate for. Two technical brawlers with iron fists and granite chins would be one not to miss. What everyone wants, though, is Froch v. Groves 2. For the sake of the sport – it needs to happen.
cover image – dailymail.co.uk
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