It’s six years this week (May 31) since the bitter rivalry between British super-middleweights Carl Froch and George Groves was settled. In the hugely demanded return fight, held at Wembley, Froch laid Groves out in a conclusive style. Froch never fought again, while Groves went on to achieve a lifetime ambition of becoming a world champion.
It is the first fight that still burns inside of Groves; however – the premature stoppage that saw Froch get the TKO win in their opening act. Speaking with Sky Sports all these years later, Groves is adamant that in no way, shape or form did he “need saving” in that hugely controversial ninth-round in November of 2013. As fans may recall, Groves – who did an incredible, if an annoying job, of, well, annoying Froch, of getting under his skin in the lead-up to the first fight – decked “The Cobra” heavily with just seconds remaining in the first round.
Looking back now, Groves wonders, as do many other people, what might have happened had he cracked Froch earlier in the round.
“He crossed his legs, came in with a mediocre one-two, with no respect for what’s coming back at him. I put one on the button.” Groves said when looking back on Froch’s heavy knockdown in fight-one. “It was over; it looked like he was out. The canvas woke him up. Does it need one more heavy shot or a few? He was fresh and had a great engine. If I hit him that hard in the eighth round, he probably wouldn’t have got up. It’s all ifs, buts, and maybes; I’m not taking anything away from him.”
But Groves is certain, painfully sure, that he should not have been “saved” by the referee in the ninth.
“I was tiring because I was throwing huge shots,” Groves said, who added how Froch was tiring because “he had the anxiety of feeling that he was down on the cards and worrying about being embarrassed.” “I was as fit as I ever would be. Tiredness wasn’t going to stop the fight. Froch marches in and throws three or four arm-shots. He doesn’t land any of them. I threw a punch and missed but moved my head out of the way. I slipped into (ref) Foster’s armpit! I looked much more tired than I was. I may look buzzed like it was only a matter of time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I never ever, never ever ever, needed saving in that first fight.”
Almost everyone agreed with Groves, and still do, and the rematch simply had to happen. This time, six months after the first fight, showing his young rival the proper respect, Froch whipped himself into superb shape, boxed cautiously early on, and then closed the show in dramatic, comprehensive fashion in the eighth round. The rivalry had been settled, put to bed. Maybe.
Groves is still crazy after all these years due to what is destined to be remembered as one of the most controversial stoppages in modern-day British ring history. Those two Froch-Groves fights genuinely captured the imagination of the entire British public, the talk, and the debate in the pubs being something a hardcore fight fan thoroughly enjoyed. We could do with such an intense rivalry today, once the boxing world returns to normality