Carl Froch retained his WBA and IBF super-middleweight crowns in a controversial ninth round stoppage against George Groves.

'The Cobra' was behind on all three scorecards having been knocked down in the first round by the 'Saint', who surprised the critics and was true to his word with a stunning performance against the champion.

Froch was caught cold in the opening round, and admitted post-fight that he'd forgotten he was knocked down in the early exchanges.

Groves continued to keep up the pressure, and out-jabbed the more experience fighter in the vast majority of the rounds. Indeed, he was leading by five points on one scorecard, and one point on the other two cards.

The gap should have been bigger, but Froch made sure they weren't a relevant factor with a fine flurry of punches in the ninth.

He'd started to ruffle the challenger in round eight, and the referee was forced to speak to both fighters on a number of occasions. And, he was at the centre of the action just a minute into the next, pulling the fighters apart and waving the action off.

Froch had landed a couple of big shots, and was looking to finish off his younger opponent. But, before he got the chance, the referee stepped in to the dismay of the sell-out crowd in Manchester.

In a complete change from the weigh-in, Groves was then cheered from the rafters following the defeat, whilst Froch was roundly booed despite claiming the victory.

And, promoter Eddie Hearn admitted in the immediate aftermath that a rematch might be the only answer. The public might well demand it, although there must be questions over whether Froch will ever come back as the same fighter.

What matters is that he claims the victory in the record books of course, and the only defeats of his career remain against Andre Ward and Mikkel Kessler. The loss is the first on Groves' professional record.

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