middleweight George Groves, 19-1 (15) walked into the Phones 4U Arena
(formerly the M.E.N. Arena) in Manchester, Lancashire to boos. When
his first world title challenge against incumbent IBF and WBA
champion Carl “The Cobra” Froch, 32-2 (23), was over, the only
boos left emanating in the venue were reserved for fight's end, which
saw Froch get help from referee Howard John Foster, who stopped the
fight with Groves on his feet and coming forward.
into the bout, Groves was an undefeated 25-year-old challenger who
wanted this bout more anything in the world. His confidence surged
all through the promotion. Never mind he split with career-long
trainer and manager Adam Booth heading into the bout. Groves showed
no sign in the lead-up or during the fight of that ever mattering.
His corner duties now assumed by Paddy Fitzpatrick, Groves started
the fight exactly where he wanted to be: at center ring.
fight was in bursts. Both men shot the jab at each other but Groves'
effort early on was the more powerful. He stuck it in Froch's face in
the first round and waited for a chance to land the two right hands
he had promised early on. Groves did that as Froch was along the
ropes. And as hard as they landed, Froch was not shaken. He steeled
himself and set about further stalking Groves.
was clear that the speed advantage was there for Groves. Younger at
25 to Froch's 36 with less than a 100 rounds to Froch's 231 coming
in, Groves had the better reflexes and balance. Froch also had the
experience and it would serve him well through the hard road ahead.
was bullied back to the ropes in round one and caught Groves with a
right uppercut coming in that caused the young man to back up.
Sensing a late-round opportunity, Froch stepped forward into a left
followed by a right that dropped his legs out from under him. 30 more
seconds and this fight report would end with a few quotes about how
amazing it was to knock out a champion like Froch so quickly.
Froch looked salty and awake as he landed, grimacing at Groves and
getting up quickly on shaky legs. The round ended with Groves giving
two more flush right hands to consider at the bell.
second round wasn't the mop-up duty one might have expected. Froch
used every veteran trick in the book to slow the pace while getting
his pound of flesh one or two body punches at a time. He fought in
bursts and Groves didn't capitalize on how badly hurt he was mere
minutes before and during parts of the second.
showed his class throughout. He stuck the jab and kept Froch backing
up all night. For his part, Froch fought sporadically, winging and
whiffing big punches but always remembering to hammer the body or
land that extra shot on the break. Froch was warned for rough tactics
a couple times in the fight but overall, Foster's warnings never
deterred him from fighting like a veteran champion will when faced
with a younger, faster, hard-hitting, relentless fighter.
turned Groves' youth on itself. Though Groves was out-quicking and
out-boxing “The Cobra” throughout, you could see that after six
rounds, though he'd been hammered and hurt a few times, Froch's
desire to win was still alive. He'd been here before with Jermain
Taylor and won by knockout with seconds left in the bout. He was
going to try for the late miracle after hammering at the kid's ribs
the eighth, Froch had Groves rattled. The young man was swelling
around the eyes and seemed to be tiring just a hair while Froch's
demeanor didn't change. Relaxed, a little more passive than expected
but gaining some steam, his punches still had meaning. His body
wasn't reddened like Groves'. Froch landed a hard shot that had
Groves turn his back for a beat. The champion pounced and they were
on the ropes with Froch's forearm in Groves' throat. The challenger
seemed hurt but Foster stopped the action and admonished Froch,
buying Groves valuable time. The eighth was a good round for Froch in
a sea of bad stanzas.
ninth and final round was a hotly-contested affair. Groves seemed to
weaken but he was content to exchange, often landing on Froch, who
absorbed the punches while looking for his own. The exchanges were
furious with Froch refusing to be backed up. Froch got in a right
that caught Groves high on the end, making his legs waver. Froch took
aim and pounded another right through Groves' jaw. He landed a hard
right and hammered at Groves on the top of the head in a clinch. When
Foster broke them, he continued to punch through. Froch was taking
his time picking at Groves, who was not fully unraveled but revealing
some loose threads but Groves had zero quit in him. He still semed to
believe he would fight through this to victory, punching and moving
it happened. As Groves walked forward, Foster called the fight off.
As he did so, Froch hit Groves in the side twice more for good
measure. Groves went crazy, asking why the bout had been stopped.
all be asking that for a long time. While we do, we'll ponder the
scorecards that saw the fight close at 76-75 (twice) and 78-73 for
Groves. Maxboxing.com had it 78-73 at the time of the stoppage. The
official time was 1:32 of the ninth.