A true drama unfolded in Manchester on Saturday night as Carl Froch and George Groves served up a tremendous battle that befitted the pre-fight hype that saw the two warriors at loggerheads for months.
From the moment Groves dropped Froch heavily in the first round of the contest, a Fight of the Year candidate was on the cards as the young challenger came of age against the old warhorse.
Groves stunned Froch by actually following through with his earlier stated plan at the final press conference, rocking ‘The Cobra’ with a right hand early on as promised, and had the crowd silent when his honey punch dropped the champion cold.
A groggy Froch got to his feet, although shakily, and struggled to get a foothold for the next three minutes as a determined Groves constantly caught him with this trademark right hand.
Froch came back into it between rounds three and five, although Groves was building up a healthy lead on the scorecards and not allowing any sort of rhythm to be gained by the three-time world champion.
Amazingly though in the seventh, Groves threw away the tactics that had worked for the previous six rounds and allowed Froch to dictate the fight into the second half and may have been guilty of getting a little too over-confident.
Taking the centre of the ring, Froch brought himself back into the contest and made it his kind of fight, with Groves consistently dropping his guard and being caught more and more.
On the back of a decent eighth round, Groves was then rocked by a huge shot from Froch that staggered him, and sensing blood, the bookie’s favourite jumped on ‘The Saint’ in an attempt to finish the fight.
More shots reigned in and Groves was clearly hurt, although it looked like he may have been able to carry on as Howard Foster hastily called a halt to the proceedings and handed Froch the stoppage.
Boos roundly filled the Phones 4U Arena as Froch retained his WBA and IBF belts in a dissatisfactory way and fans will now clamber for a rematch after a closer-than-expected encounter.
In finishing, I feel compelled to give a special mention to Groves on the back of my pre-fight previews in writing him off as the Londoner proved he does belong at the highest level and will no doubt be fighting for a world title again in the future.
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