On Saturday evening, under a clear London sky, in front of 80,000 screaming fans, a fight was brewing between two countrymen who completed a magical storyline that included two fights surely to go down in British boxing history. The epic sequel had the fixings of a movie script, which included a young star from the city versus a salty old veteran from the highlands, who shared a mutual disdain for each other.
Last November, George Groves (19-2) and Carl Froch (33-2) stepped into the ring to face off in what England was calling an epic fight between two very different fighters. Despite the controversy that followed the first fight, the battle did not disappoint. In the early rounds the younger, inexperienced Groves sent Froch to the canvas, nearly ending the fight before it ever truly started. Froch, a tough veteran, was able to survive the early rounds and make the fight exciting by giving Groves a battle he wasn’t prepared for. In round 9, the mood changed as Groves, who was controlling the majority of the fight, was caught by a flurry of punches from the elder statesman Froch, which ultimately led to a premature stoppage by the referee.
In what ended up being a highly controversial conclusion to a great fight, the referee stopped the fight as Groves appeared to be seriously hurt by the onslaught of punches Froch was administering.
After the fight, Groves was very vocal about his displeasure with the referee stoppage. Froch, who won the fight, was forced to defend his victory and unfortunately absorbed the majority of criticism from the media and fans due to the early stoppage. In a way, Carl Froch, the victor, was the fighter seeking revenge going into the rematch. Conversely, the younger George Groves was the fighter receiving sympathy for his loss. There was never a doubt that a rematch was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Finally, May 31, 2014 arrived, and the rematch between two countrymen, who genuinely despised each other, was here. Fighting under the dark skies of their capital city, in front of nearly 100,000 screaming fans, Carl Froch and George Groves put British boxing back on the international stage. The telecast was picked up by HBO Boxing and fans across the world were able to see the spectacle for themselves. And a spectacle it was.
The coverage started early as each fighter was introduced in a lengthy, over-the-top entrance from their locker rooms to the ring, which included the fighters stopping at three platforms to pose, smile and take in the evening crowd. For George Groves, who was fighting in front of his hometown, he used the time to grin, strike poses like a runway model and give the crowd a show. Conversely, Carl Froch, who can only be described as a hard-nosed veteran, moved faster from platform to platform only stopping briefly to shadowbox and maintain his sweat.
The fight never truly started until the middle rounds when both fighters were comfortable with what their opponent was bringing to the table. Groves appeared to win the first four rounds handily. Froch only began to find his stride in round 5 and 6, before Groves ultimately regained some momentum.
Suddenly, in an instance everything changed, as the elder Froch saw an opening and landed a massive right hand on Groves chin. Groves went to the ground immediately and fell in an awkward position that saw his left leg being bent in an uncomfortable manner under his buttocks. The referee started the count, but it was clear that Groves would be unable to get to his feet. The fight was stopped and Froch achieved the revenge he was seeking for his ‘questionable’ victory over Groves the year prior.
In the end the mutual respect between the fighters was apparent. Despite their age difference, opposingstyles, and completely different personalities, George Groves and Carl Froch gave their fans something that is very rare in the current boxing landscape. Their paths crossed for a reason and despite the two losses Groves was handed, it is clear that they will forever be identified together as friendly foes from a country with a rich boxing history.