Carl Froch finally lands his football stadium dream tonight as ‘The Cobra’ puts his IBF and WBA super-middleweight titles on the line against his arch UK nemesis ‘Saint’ George Groves at Wembley.
The two clash six months on from that highly debated stoppage win in Manchester as Froch came on strong after six rounds to force referee Howard Foster to make the most controversial decision of his career. However right or wrong Foster was, the official may well be given a pat on the back from all concerned as his actions, that have now set up the return and made everyone involved millions of pounds in the process.
Fans who fumed at the ninth round ending also get their wish to see the second fight following a sparkling six-round performance from Groves, who almost pulled off one of the biggest shocks in British boxing when he floored Froch hard in the first round. Froch, 36, was visibly stunned and took a good four more rounds to find his feet in the original contest, but gets the chance to prove to the younger challenger that his superior experience and guile can win the day more convincingly this time around.
The build-up, apart from one shoving incident pitchside at Wembley during their opening verbal jabs for the rematch, has been quite muted, which was a stark point made by Hearn – who wanted the fight to stand up itself without any over-the-top hype. Hearn has certainly had his call heeded, with just a few words from Froch at Friday’s weigh-in about as interesting as the pre-fight rituals have been at the packed media events.
Sky Sports’ ‘Gloves are off’ programme provided some of the most interesting trash talk between the two, with ex-world title holder Johnny Nelson the third man on this occasion, and the now infamous ‘push and pull’ incident leaving most wanting more and eager for the fight to begin right there.
Well now it’s finally here and the months of anticipation for the fight that almost didn’t happen at all are over. Fans are heading for England’s national stadium in their droves in anticipation of another action-packed meeting between the pair of bitter, bitter rivals.
Seasoned world beater Froch has looked ice cool in the run-up after taking some flak for the way he handled Groves the first time around in the media glare, although the Nottingham had just finished a stint dancing with his wife on a TV show so can be forgiven for looking a little sheepish when shoved into a slanging match with the Londoner so soon after.
Groves has toned down his shenanigans, to his credit, but that could also be down to nerves as the 26 year-old knows he has lost his main weapon, the element of surprise, and now has to find another way of getting to Froch.
Naming the punch that will finish the fight, namely the left hook, seems to be his main ploy, although Froch hasn’t bought any of it throughout the pre-fight formalities and looked in amazing shape on the scales, as did Groves.
With Froch in a considerably better frame of mind, and a lot stronger fitness-wise, it’s hard to see what Groves can do differently from the first fight to put the champion out of the comfort zone he seems to find himself in at the moment.
Britian’s premiere super-middleweight has that awe of invincibility back that he had right before the fight with Lucian Bute in 2012, and I can see him attempting to break trend and begin brightly on the back of the embarrassment Groves put him through early on in the first contest.
The challenger is going to have to fight fire-with-fire once again, possibly from the first bell, which did not turn out well for him late on all those months ago as Groves looked at his best when Froch was out of sorts. If Froch lays it on Groves from the first minute, I can’t see the fight going past four rounds and it may all come down to what kind of Carl Froch turns up on the night and how he uses his tactics in the opening exchanges.
I firmly believe that the fight will not last as long as it did at the Phones 4U Arena and am backing Froch to finally put to bed his lucrative saga with the brash young pretender. Rounds two and three will provide the key to which road the fight will ultimately go down, but I can’t see any way that the final bell rings and has George Groves subsequently celebrating his greatest ever triumph.
My prediction last time was Froch to win between six and nine and I’d be confident enough to say he can do that bit earlier in the return and fend off Groves between four and six.
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Froch v Groves is live on HBO in the US and Sky Sports Box Office in the UK this Saturday night from Wembley Stadium in London