They’re good friends today, but rewind to ten years ago, to November 23, 2013, and British super middleweights Carl Froch and George Groves could easily have been looked at as two men who genuinely despised one another. In the lead-up to the fight that would see “Cobra” Froch defend his WBA and IBF 168-pound belts, Groves embarked on a relentless campaign of psychological warfare.
Froch today admits Groves did a sound job as far as the challenger doing what he wanted to do, and that’s get under his skin. “My blood was boiling,” Froch says today when looking back. “When we came together and did a ‘Gloves are Off’ ringside show he said I was gonna start crying,” Froch said today on Talk Sport. “He was doing a great job, my blood was boiling.”
Groves rattled Froch like no man had ever managed. And that was before the fight started in the ring. Froch was convinced Groves was not in his class – Froch had, of course, more than earned his spurs with great wins over the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Jean Pascal, Arthur Abraham, Lucian Bute, and other formidable operators – and he didn’t train as intensely as he had in previous fights.
Froch may have even felt that Groves could not hurt him, so proven was Froch’s chin. But in a memorable opening round, Groves scored a heavy knockdown, Froch being seriously hurt from a cracking overhand right to the head towards the end of the session. Froch, who got up purely on instinct and barely made it through the round, knew now he was in a real fight. “I’ve got it up there with probably the worst beating I’ve ever had,” Froch says of the Groves fight now. “He was far ahead on the cards, he’d dropped me in the first round, he beat me up the worst I’ve ever been beaten.”
Froch, showing his inner warrior, regrouped and a fantastic battle ensued inside a rocking Manchester Arena. Groves, the younger man by over a decade, was boxing brilliantly, his fast hands serving him well as he outboxed Froch, preventing the champ to get into a rhythm. Groves was winning the rounds, building what looked to some like an insurmountable lead. But then, in the ninth, referee Howard Foster made a call that was later referred to as one of the most controversial in modern-day British boxing history.
Froch got home with some rights to his tormentor’s head and body, with Groves stumbling around the ring. Froch, sensing a chance, fired off more rights to the head as Groves tried to clinch.
Groves then went back into the ropes, and Foster jumped in. Groves was utterly disgusted, as were plenty of fight fans. At the time of the stoppage, Groves was up on all cards at 78-73, 76-75, 76-75. There just had to be a rematch.
When it came, the bad blood was still very much there, perhaps even more so. A massive fight that captured the attention of the entire nation, Froch-Groves II sold-out Wembley. This time, Froch, on top of his game due to the way he had trained the way a rematch with the more than worthy Groves demanded, got the clean KO in round eight, this ending the bitter rivalry.
But on this day in 2013, and for many weeks afterwards, Groves had many people convinced he would end Froch’s reign and his career if the sequel happened. There are no hard feeling between the two today, with Froch and Groves being friends and former champions who have plenty of respect for each other.
“Nobody does it like George Groves did it,” Froch said on Talk Sport, this when referring to Groves’ efficiency as a trash-talker. Together, these two super, super middleweights gave us a whole lot of fun and games, and two memorable