News May 2019

Froch and Groves provide a classic. Ringside report


By @John_Evans79

Firstly, what a fight.

The excitement that Carl Froch, 32-2 (23 KO’s), and George Groves, 19-1 (15 KO’s), provided last night in their IBF/WBA super middleweight title fight shouldn’t be overshadowed by the decision of referee Howard Foster to halt Groves in the ninth round of a war, bringing a premature end to the pulsating clash.

Mid way through the round Froch landed a right hook high on Groves’ head, seemingly upsetting his balance. With Groves backed up to the ropes, Froch landed two hard follow up shots. The punches landed cleanly and Groves was obviously hurt but he never lost his senses. He closed the distance and kept his hands up.

It was at that point that Foster decided to stop the action. Maybe Froch would have gone on to end matters, maybe Groves would have been able to recover in the same fashion Froch had after that dramatic first round knockdown. We’ll never know. In stepping in so early, Foster robbed both men of the opportunity to prove who the better man truly was.

After weeks of build up, the fight managed to exceed expectations. Froch came to fight and – as good as his word – so did his confident challenger.

The difference in hand speed was evident from the initial exchanges. That we expected. What we didn’t expect to see was Froch so badly hurt, so early. The beautiful left hook, right hand combination which floored him, for only the second time in his career, in the opening round would have finished every other super middleweight on the planet and Froch can thank himself lucky that the punch didn’t land 30 seconds earlier.

From that point on, the 25 year old Groves put on a clinic. Whenever he let his hands go in combination, he couldn’t miss Froch and as the rounds wore on, ‘The Cobra’ began to take a worrying amount of punishment. Groves confounded the experts who claimed he would look to win the fight on the back foot by punching with Froch whenever the champion unleashed his increasingly desperate attacks. When Froch did eventually begin to find his range in the fifth round, Groves bounced off his stool to completely dominate the sixth.

Until the dramatic ending, the course of the fight didn’t deviate from the plan Groves laid out at the pre fight press conference. He met Froch in the centre of the ring, won the battle of the jab and landed right hands at will. Although he managed to get to the younger man late in the fight Froch didn’t ‘solve’ Groves last night, he somehow managed to outlast him.

How the man from Nottingham is still able to dig so deep after such a long, hard career only he knows. It is remarkable but at 36 years old and after his eleven world title fights Froch still retains every bit of the determination and desire which highlighted his rise to world title level five years ago when he outlasted Jean Pascal in a similar battle. Toughness is more than possessing an iron chin, the mental fortitude required to come through the ordeal Froch did last night and still prevail is hard to imagine.

As Groves struggled to hold himself together during his post fight interview, the atmosphere inside the arena changed. Froch may have left Manchester with his cherished world title belts but may have lost the title which maybe means the most to him. That of the People’s Champion.

Groves’ brave, exciting performance and dignified post fight interview won over an initially hostile crowd. To have performed to the level he did following a turbulent few weeks during which he split from long time trainer Adam Booth and teamed up with Paddy Fitzpatrick is remarkable.

Groves is happy to walk his own path away from the mainstream and it won’t sit at all well with him but in keeping with the all British nature of the night, Groves managed to do the very British thing and become a hero in defeat. He may not be a world champion this morning but he is now arguably the biggest star in British boxing.

For Froch the future is less certain. By grinding down and stopping Groves, he did exactly as he predicted yet even he would readily admit that it was a far harder task to accomplish than he could ever have imagined.

The biggest fight available to him – and British boxing – is an immediate rematch. Froch will have to decide whether to play out the remainder of his career settling a rivalry with a fighter he spent weeks denigrating or attempting to add more big names to an already glittering CV.

What a fight though!

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