In the lead up to what promises to be a classic contest, George Groves has been impressive. In fact it’s hard to think of a fighter imbued with as much self belief and confidence as he is right now. It is even more impressive when you consider he is about to step into the ring in the biggest and most important fight of his life in front of a packed Manchester Arena with millions more watching on pay per view against as formidable opponent as Carl Froch.
Groves believes he can win this fight and so do I. He believes he has the attributes to do so and so do I.
What are those attributes?
Terrific handspeed and accuracy: power (15 KOs in a 19 fight unbeaten record tells no lies): excellent lateral movement: the ability to throw shots from different angles: ring awareness: the discipline to box to a gameplan, as demonstrated against James De Gale when he defeated him over 12 rounds in 2011. Perhaps most important of all, he is superb when boxing off the back foot.
The aforementioned are the attributes required to nullify the strengths of Carl Froch, a fighter whose stock in trade is fighting off the front foot, going toe to toe against an opponent who tries to out gun him. A superb engine married to a granite chin and massive power has seen the current IBF and WBA champion at super middleweight come through more ring wars in his past few fights than most fighters experience in their entire careers.
The crucial factor in what is a fight of contrasting styles will be the later rounds. Groves is relying on his ability to stick and move and frustrate his opponent. The objective for him will be to frustrate Froch to the point where he starts making mistakes in his desperation to land clean shots, thus leaving himself open to counters. Groves has articulated his belief that he will stop the world champion. However if he doesn’t he’ll be equally happy to take the W on points.
Froch believes he has too much power and experience for Groves. Tellingly, though, in the build up Groves has clearly got the better of the exchanges – to the point where Carl Froch has seemed on the brink of losing it completely. In addition, Froch’s continued assertion that Groves isn’t in his league, inferring that he should feel honoured to even be sharing a ring with him, suggests a fighter who has lapsed into the dangerous territory of hubris. If he thinks that he is just going to go in there and blow his opponent away then he and his trainer, Rob McCracken, haven’t done their homework.
Undoubtedly, Groves is yet to face an opponent as experienced and formidable as Carl Froch. But a vital aspect when it comes to any professional boxer’s career is timing. Groves feels that he is facing Froch at the right time in both their respective careers. He is ten years younger and despite having only had 19 fights to Carl Froch’s 33, he believes that he now possesses enough experience to do the business. Meanwhile, at 36, Carl Froch has just put his body through yet another torturous training camp. Against Andre Ward he appeared shopworn and overtrained as he struggled to cope with Ward’s movement and ringcraft. Yes, he came back like a true champion with an impressive performance against Lucien Bute to take the IBF belt. He then rolled over Yusuf Mack on the way to avenging his only other previous loss to Mikkel Kessler.
Does he have it in him to keep the momentum going though – and against an opponent who will give him a look similar to the one Ward gave him rather than Kessler?
Another factor that has been much talked about in the lead up is George Groves’ split with Adam Booth just prior to the fight being announced. I don’t believe this will have as negative an impact on his performance as many have speculated, if at all. Booth is a fantastic trainer and strategist, yes, but the split suggests that all wasn’t right between him and Groves for some time. Regardless of how able a trainer is, as soon as relations break down between him and his fighter and the trust goes, it’s over. If Groves had mended whatever the problem was – which seems to have been primarily over money – in the interests of having Booth in his corner to face Carl Froch, this likely would have had more of a negative effect on his preparations and performance than going their separate ways will.
George Groves impresses me as a fighter who’s shown improvements with every fight over the past couple of years. He’s ready not only to compete with Carl Froch but to beat him.
I see him winning by late stoppage or by wide decision.