“It’s on, it’s here, the rematch.”
Eddie Hearn’s official announcement came in early February and the hype has barely died down since. But now, it really is here; Carl Froch faces off against George Groves for the WBA ‘regular’ and IBF super-middleweight championships, in front of an expectant 80,000 crowd at Wembley Stadium.
Bad blood, clear hatred and that first round knockdown make a perfect plot for this rematch, not to mention Howard Foster’s inexplicable stoppage during the original bout.
During the ninth round with Groves visibly hurt but still firing back, Foster stepped in and ruined a classical ending to a fight that way surpassed the expectations of many.
Booed on his ring walk, the London-based fighter exited to rapturous applause and instant calls for a rematch. Despite Froch using Julio Cesar Chavez Jr as a smokescreen, insisting he wanted to fulfil a life-long ambition to fight in Las Vegas, the deal was eventually made.
Some quarters suggest Groves’ best couldn’t overcome Froch’s worst, while some believe the champion is in terminal decline and the challenger, still only aged 26, can do nothing but improve in the six months since they last locked horns.
All the ifs, buts and maybes combine to make it one of the biggest fights in British boxing history.
For someone who has referred to himself as the ‘ultimate professional’, Froch has potentially proved otherwise since the first meeting on November 23 last year. In almost every interview since the 36-year-old admitted he trained below par, being lackadaisical in the gym and nearly paying the ultimate price on fight night.
Even besides the stunning first round knockdown, Groves largely gave Froch a boxing lesson. Dominating centre ring, the Londoner controlled the fight behind his doubled-up, quick jab and forceful combinations, culminating with hurtful right over the top.
It is interesting to note that Groves believes he can stop the champion with the left hook, not the same right hand that floored him so heavily last time. Both fighters have predicted quick stoppages, so expect fireworks from the first bell.
While the Nottingham-based fighter has worked with the cool, calming influence of Rob McCracken throughout his career, how successful Paddy Fitzpatrick will be with Groves is unclear. The pair have a full camp together for the first time, although Groves greatly missed the experience of Adam Booth for the first fight.
The stamina of Groves has also been questioned. It is not so much his stamina, but his ability to continue working in short, sharp bursts that remains an issue. Most of his work is conducted in explosive interludes, which become less effective and less hurtful as the fight progresses.
We are all set for a stellar night of boxing inside England’s national stadium. My personal pick is Groves to win by unanimous decision after 12 hard-fought rounds and maybe even a trip to the canvas himself, though I have changed my prediction numerous times.
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