There’s nothing like a grudge match in boxing. Some are pretend grudges, done for promotional reasons to sell a match that didn’t exactly catch on with the fans. And others are legitimate where the boxers really despise each other and have a real score to settle.
Carl Froch and George Groves don’t like each other and neither has tried to hide that fact. And they do have a score to settle after the first match ended in a controversial stoppage by the referee. There won’t be a lot of love extended when Froch defends his WBA super middleweight title against Groves in a rematch at Wembley Stadium on Saturday night.
Froch-Groves II is the kind of match that boxing needs – a mega event with two boxers who don’t like each other, trying to prove the other doesn’t belong in the same ring and doing in front of 60,000 partisan fans.
Paulie Malignaggi, former welterweight champion, is working the television broadcast for Sky and is in London. He has been impressed by the excitement in England for the match.
“It’s a really big deal,’’ said Malignaggi. “It’s not only a domestic rivalry, but a rivalry on an international stage because there are world titles involved. The stakes are very high. And in Britain they’re very patriotic for their fighters. Whenever it involves two of their own fighters in a champion fight they really come out. That’s why Wembley Stadium is sold out. It is such a big fight.’’
Add to that the first fight ending in a controversial stoppage in the ninth round and you have all the makings of a fantastic match – better than Floyd Mayweather versus Marcos Maidana, which kicked off the month of May.
The difference between Froch-Groves and Mayweather-Maidana is that Froch-Groves is a more even fight. Heading into Mayweather-Maidana no one gave Maidana much of a chance at beating Mayweather. Maidana was a 12-to-1 underdog in the fight, though he acquitted himself well in the 12-round loss.
The anticipation for Froch-Groves is that someone, either one, could be knocked out. And that’s what makes a great match – the unknown with a knockout as the payoff.
Froch certainly didn’t know much against Groves the first time they met and he thought if it had gone on longer he would have KO’ed Groves.
“I'm guilty of not giving George Groves the respect he deserves in the first fight,’’ Froch said. “It was difficult to because he was talking so much trash. George Groves had not boxed anyone ranked in the top 15 in the world. That's the facts.
“He still hasn't beaten anyone ranked in the top 15 in the world, because the only person he did fight was me and let's not forget that result. It was a round nine stoppage. But I do need to give him a little more attention, a little more boxing respect and go in there totally focused and totally prepared, which I wasn't in the first fight.’’
Groves said no amount of focus will help Froch this time around.
“There is nothing he can take from the first fight to give him confidence or hope going into this rematch,’’ Groves said. “He can't improve aspects of his game that have been broken or non-existent since day one. Sure, he can train harder and focus more, but how will that erase his many technical deficiencies and flaws? Remember, he's 36 years of age, ten years my senior, and I'm the one with room to improve. He's had his time.’’
Froch thinks it’s still his time and he’s going to prove it in the rematch.
“I get to do it all over again, but this time I'll finish the job properly, finish it conclusively and leave no question marks,’’ Froch said. “I'm so excited that I'm going to give George Groves an absolute pasting in front of such a big crowd on a massive event. I cannot wait.’’