Wherever you are at 10pm on May 31st, like most enthusiastic fans, you’ll probably feel you are experiencing more pre-fight jitters than the fighters themselves – and if you’re anything like myself you probably are!
It’s all perfectly natural, mind. After all we as boxing fans are about to witness the biggest spectacle the noble art has staged on British soil for eighty – odd years.
We can all rest assured our senses will be treated to a caldron of noise, atmosphere and tension not seen since Nigel Benn took on Chris Eubank in front of a mere forty – three thousand at Old Trafford back in 93‘. Seventy to eighty thousand are due here – it’s unlikely a boxing event of this magnitude will ever be seen again.
George Groves (19 – 1) who made a personal appeal to the IBF to force this rematch, will be first to run the gauntlet of a passionate crowd, with the media friendly challenger quite possibly armed with his humorous side – kick and mascot: The Gingerbread man. The 26 – year – old enthralled and shocked observers last November when announcing himself on to the world stage by dropping his seasoned rival in the first round – landing seemingly at will time and time again in a relatively one sided contest.
Carl Froch (32 – 2), 37, walks last as the IBF/WBA world champion and is expected to be greeted by considerable booing mainly due to the perceived lack of respect and credit he showed his opponent in the aftermath of Groves’ brave performance during a post fight interview at the Phones-4-U arena in Manchester – the stage of their first epic encounter back in November. Froch had forced a highly controversial and now infamous 9th round stoppage victory.
One thing we can all be sure of when weighing – up the two fighters is this; Groves brings advanced speed and technical ability, whereas the ‘Cobra’ has perhaps both the toughest chin and best stamina in world boxing, let alone this encounter, and this is if we base the outcome of this fight essentially on the events of the previous one; Groves was seen to use his skill and power to dazzle the Nottingham brawler – who took some shots you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, but, dusted himself off and wore ‘The Saint’ down.
Questions which are waiting to be found out on fight-night; Will Froch’s punch resistance continue to defy logic, with it again simply being a case of walking down the dangerous Groves before catching him late on? Or will his red headed adversary have taken full advantage of his youth in the past six months to make significant and considerable physical improvement to bring the power that could see him become the first to halt, or indeed the stamina to outpoint, a man entering his 12th consecutive world title fight?
And just where will both be, mentally, as the bell goes in front of eighty – thousand fans?
Although the result of the headline act remains important to the fans and not least the fighters – my hunch is if we somehow get an early finish or a strategic, technical non – event, most will come away feeling a truly fantastic show was put on for them which is a rarity these days – especially in boxing.
Not that I envisage this fight to disappoint.
PREDICTION: GROVES PTS
Follow Lee Elford on Twitter at @LeeElford for Froch v Groves tweets during fight week and fight night