After weeks of speculation the battleground for the eagerly anticipated rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves on May 31st has finally been announced as the Wembley Stadium. Although Wembley had always been the favorite venue, other stadiums including Emirates and The Millennium Stadium were slated to play host on account of the logistical issues posed by Wembley’s accommodating the England and Peru friendly match on the prior evening.
However the fight’s promoter Eddie Hearn was said to be blown away after first walking through Wembley’s tunnels and has worked tirelessly with the stadium and the FA to see that the biggest fight since the Eubank and Benn rematch was staged there. Hearn heavily believes that the fight is the biggest that Britain will have yet seen and strongly felt that the new Wembley Stadium would do it the most justice, especially as it will be the first boxing match to be held at the new stadium since its reopening in 2007.
The old Wembley Stadium had last held a boxing match back in 1995 when Frank Bruno captured the WBC heavyweight title via a unanimous decision over American Oliver McCall, but arguably the most famous fight the stadium held was Henry Cooper’s clash against Cassius Clay in 1963, where the Briton was stopped by cuts in the fifth round.
The Froch and Groves rematch is set to break the attendance record for any post-War British fight with an expected sell-out crowd of approximately eighty-thousand with around seven thousand said to be positioned on the pitch; the current record for a British fight attendance stands at the 55,000 strong crowd present for the Ricky Hatton v Juan Lazcano bout at the City of Manchester Stadium in 2008.
Froch and Groves both realise the enormity of their fight and each are excited over the distinguished venue which will stage the epic rematch of their November 2013 clash which saw the champion retain his WBA and IBF super-middleweight world titles via a controversial ninth round stoppage, subsequently leading the IBF to back Groves and order the rematch.
As he has plenty shown through his career Froch has no problems in defending his belts in his opponent’s back garden, telling Sky Sports News that he wants closure on the situation by not allowing for any excuses after the fight; conversely Groves relishes the chance to be crowned a world champion in his home city of London.
The fight will undoubtedly prove to be Britain’s biggest boxing event of the year and in terms of gate revenue and PPV sales is likely to break British records. It is a dustup I, like all fight fans, ardently look forward to. It is obvious that Froch this time will have more respect for the boxer in Groves and I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out for the opening bell like a raging bull as he did against Bute. When his career is on the line Froch is a dangerous man and he will put himself through hell and back to try and conclusively finish the series and prevent the demand for a third installment. I hope Groves expects the same because, if he doesn’t, he may well be overwhelmed and not given the chance to demonstrate the slick boxing skills which done him so well in their first fight.
I will finish by throwing something out there which many may feel to be somewhat implausible, but by the end of the year or early next year a fight could emerge that potentially will surpass the magnitude of this one: DeGale and Groves in a super-middleweight unification fight that would be a rematch of their 2011 bout which saw Groves the winner via a majority decision. The fight was extremely close and split opinions down the middle; for what it’s worth, I remember scoring the fight to DeGale by a round or two.
I believe Groves wins his fight in May; this time around he will not have the burden and stress of changing camps (having left Adam Booth during the lead up to the first Froch encounter) and the extra time with new trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick will see a more impressive game-plan implemented. Fitzpatrick and Groves know the type of fighter Froch is and will likely anticipate a furious start.
As for DeGale, it seems likely that he will become next in line to challenge for Sakio Bika’s WBC super-middleweight title after the proposed final eliminator between DeGale and Badou Jack was scrapped after the latter was demolished inside a single round last Friday night, the night before DeGale scored an eleventh round stoppage over Dutch Gevorg Khatchikian. DeGale’s promoter Mick Hennessey has submitted a request to the WBC governing body for DeGale to become mandatory challenger and he has stated that ‘it looks good’, given how this is the second time a chance to fight for the mandatory position has fallen through after Marco Antonio Periban pulled out of a proposed fight with DeGale.
Should Groves prevail and DeGale advances to landing the Bika fight (if he does, in my opinion DeGale smashes him) then that opens the gate for something even more extraordinary than what British fight fans are already looking forward to.