For a while it seemed like modern British boxing would struggle to capture the huge domestic audiences of the 80s and 90s when bouts like those between Eubank and Benn would attract massive viewing figures. The rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves, which is being billed as the biggest fight in UK boxing history, shows there’s still a huge appetite for the sport.
A record 80,000 people are set to turn out for Groves vs. Froch II, a fight which could be one of the great sporting spectacles of the new millennium, with the IBF and WBA Super Middleweight belts up for grabs.
A lot has been made of the hype surrounding the fight, and the usual questions of how much is staged and how much is genuine are rife. The question of how much pageantry is even necessary is equally relevant, given the fact that these are two of the UK’s finest boxers in a weight category that’s always been popular with the viewing public.
Groves has apparently been very hands on in the preparations for the bout, as many now see him as Froch’s equal or even his superior in terms of raw boxing ability, despite his defeat in the first contest. Groves apparently demanded at least £50,000 of the purse be spent on the boxer’s entrances before the fight which could add a healthy dose of razzmatazz.
Groves has predicted that he’ll win by KO in the third, and he’ll do well to knock a man out with the kind of steely jaw which Froch has exhibited in his previous fights. Froch has only been beaten twice in his 32 professional fights, Groves obviously just the once; formidable records for two fighters who’ve taken on some of the best in the business.
Groves is still only 26, whereas Nottingham born Froch is ten years his senior and has fought over twice the number of professional rounds as his opponent (240 as opposed to 104). These are the types of stats which could play a big factor in such a high intensity atmosphere, where experience will surely play a huge part.
Many pundits recognise that Groves may be a better technical fighter than Froch, exhibiting better hand and foot speed, prompting Groves’ claims that he’ll win inside three rounds.
If Groves comes out all guns blazing he may have a decent chance of at least subduing Froch, if not getting the KO. Taking an early lead into the later rounds could be vital as this is where you might expect the stamina of Froch to become clear.
If Froch is allowed to dictate, he could bully Groves throughout with his long reach, but this fight is immensely hard to call. Froch is odds on at around 4/6, whereas Groves is an attractive 11/8 with a lot of bookmakers.
There might be a betting swing towards Groves with those types of odds; most punters would express favour for Froch, but the differences are so marginal that Groves seems much better value in the betting stakes.
Some people are starting think that the fight won’t go the distance, and some bookies offering 11/8 for a full 12 rounder with Carl Froch. Groves’ odds drift in the later rounds, suggesting he may have to secure a victory before round 7 or aim to take it on points (Groves dominated the first 7 rounds previously).
Froch’s odds tend to shorten slightly towards the final third of the bout and there’ll be a lot of money going on a victory towards round 9 – just like the first fight.
The fight is at Wembley Stadium and this effectively puts Groves on home territory, although support should be fairly evenly split considering Froch’s long term prestige.
There’s already talk of Froch vs Groves III, which Groves obviously seems reluctant to sign up to – if Groves won he’d surely want to take the title to America and be done with it; if he loses, what would be the point in a third bout.
Calling a winner between these two is impossible, but what we can hope for is a spectacular showpiece event and the rebirth of British boxing.