Disgust. Outrage. Farce. Joke
These are the thoughts/feelings I had and still have when I reflect on Saturday night’s main event.
Carl Froch “stopped” George Groves in round 9 of a Super Middle title match up.
It was the worst referee decision I have ever seen.
Froch v Groves:
George Groves walked out 1st to his usual entrance music “Spitfire by The Prodigy and a chorus of boos. Carl Froch opted for Oasis, much to the delight of the packed crowd at the Phones4U arena in Manchester.
Groves had an ice cold demeanour about him, his eyes soulless, his body language emotionless. He was a man on a mission.
When Froch entered the ring, Groves stood in the centre and stared at him with a look that shouted “I’m going to hurt you”.
Froch and his entourage looked back in a sense of disbelief and a sense of mockery. “Who the did this kid think he is?” you could hear them say to one another.
The confidence displayed by Groves, the challenger, I have never witnessed in my 20+ years of watching boxing. He filled me with even more confidence that he was going to cause an upset, my gut was telling me the next 35 minutes was going to be explosive.
When both fighters’ trainers had stepped between the ropes and took their respective positions in the corner below, Froch and Groves came to the centre of the ring, took instructions from Howard Foster. They touched gloves, Groves paced backwards 2 steps, max, Froch, went right to his corner.
You could see Groves was chomping at the bit before the bell rang, if it was possible to have a false start in boxing, he would of done so.
All the pre fight trash talking, goading was over. The ring was where their differences would be settled.
The bell rang and we were off.
Groves flew Froch like a dog chasing a ball in a field.
The hand speed and movement of Groves was so telling from the outset. His left glove hung in mid air like a Cobra ironically, waiting to snap and hiss in Froch’s face.
Froch looked out of date; like a cane row hairstyle or baggy jeans. Groves was outboxing him with ease, he looked the real deal.
With moments to spare in the 1st round, Groves caught Froch with a left then a huge overhand right.
Froch went crashing to the canvas like a falling tree in a forest.
The crowd fell silent.
You could of heard a pin drop.
I had my mouth wide open in disbelief, my girlfriend thought I’d been given bad news.
Disbelief that he had floored Froch. The famous granite chin, the man who couldn’t be knocked out was smashed to pieces by a St George sledgehammer.
Groves stepped back and looked over him.
Froch managed to get to his feet somehow, he was in a world of shit.
His corner praying for that bell, promoter Eddie Hearn looked flabbergasted.
The fight could of been stopped right there and then.
If Groves would of landed that punch 30 seconds before, the fight would of finished then. No question.
What proceeded to unfold was a pure boxing lesson from Groves. Foster could of stopped the fight in the first 5 rounds at numerous stages.
Any doubt about whether George Groves had the ability and temperament to mix it at World Level were vaporised. He was and is the real deal, the future of the Super Middleweight division was here in front of our very eyes.
It was up there for me as one of the most one sided fights I have ever seen. Up there with Calzaghe v Lacy, Benn v McClelland and Froch v Bute.
Surely there could be only one winner?
Froch, credit to him came back in to the fight, he refused to give up which is an admirable trait. You don’t participate in 11 World Title fights if you are a mug. So you have to respect that and who he has been in with.
But he looked finished, this appeared to be one fight too far. The Kessler wars must of taken a lot out of him.
The 6th round is one of the best I have ever witnessed, edge of your seat, my pulse was racing. It could of ended at any moment.
From rounds5- 7 it was a pure scrap. Who could survive, who wanted it enough.
Would the experience of Froch be enough to help him weather the storm?
Round 6 Groves was like a man possessed, I thought Froch was going to go at any stage. It reminded me of Maidana battering Khan in the closing stages, surely he was going to fall again or Foster was going to stop the fight.
The referee seemed to give Froch the benefit of the doubt on various occasions when he was in serious trouble. Something he failed to do for Groves.
In round 9, Groves appeared to be weary, but he was landing the bigger shots, his cheeks beginning to swell. Froch looked like a sand blasted tomato.
Froch landed a combo and a right that Groves didn’t respond to. It was the first time he looked in trouble.
Foster grabbed Groves in what resembled a wrestling style head lock, which Froch used to his advantage to land some body shots.
The fight was stopped.
I was in utter shock and disbelief.
“What the FUCK??” I shouted at my TV.
Froch wheeled away. Groves crestfallen and in tears. Paddy Fitzpatrick in his maiden outing as Groves’ coach, went postal at the referee. The crowd who at the start of the fight were baying and baiting Groves, had been converted to fully fledged members of Team St GG. They mercilessy booed and hissed at the clear injustice that was unfolding.
Promoter Eddie Hearn crept in to the ring sheepishly like husband late from the pub in to his bedroom. He knew Froch had got away with murder here. This was the OJ Simpson verdict given in the ring.
Groves should of been given longer to try to recover. It was the first time he was in real trouble. Yes he probably would of been knocked down by Froch 10 seconds longer.
He had earnt the opportunity to take a standing 8 count based purely on his performance up until then.
Groves earnt the grace of 8-20 seconds to clear his head and step forward to finish Froch once and for all.
He wasn’t due to a premature stoppage by Foster.
He was robbed in what should of been his crowning moment and pinnacle of his career.
It will be remembered for all the wrong reasons that stoppage, when we should be celebrating not only a new Super Middleweight World Champion, but the birth of the next British superstar.
What I felt was fitting was the reception and applause Groves received from the 20,000 crowd. He bowed to each corner like an actor on stage at the end of a West End show.
I was gutted for Groves, I have followed his career from the start. I felt physically sick for Groves and couldn’t sleep for reciting the fight and the finish. Trying to understand why Foster intervened so soon.
What pissed me off the most was how disrespectful Froch spoke about Groves live on air.
He had nicked a win from the jaws of defeat. Froch’s career was in tatters, if Groves would of knocked him out or won on points there was simply no way back for him. Personally, I think his credibility is shot to shit after how he spoke.
He was luckier than Ricky Burns was against Beltran. But at least Burns’ acknowledged that. Froch was rude, egotisical and self indulgent. It left a very sour taste in the mouth and made the decision even worse.
Eddie Hearn spoke afterwards candidly about Froch, suggesting than even he feels his career is over and questioned whether Froch would and should carry on. I can see Froch shunning a rematch, dreams of beating Andre Ward in a rematch are shattered. Ward would take the fight tomorrow, but Froch would be foolish to even consider that. I can see him having a farewell fight in front of his home crowd in Nottingham against someone who wouldn’t pose a major threat.
If we do have a rematch we all crave, Groves blasts him in 4 rounds max. Groves has said if he knew what was going to transpire after he flattened Froch in the 1st, he would of gone in for the kill and finished him there and then.
Groves now despite that crushing defeat is going to be the most in demand free agent in World Boxing. He had a 3 fight deal with Matchroom which expired once the fight ended on Saturday, Matchroom would be sectioned if they didn’t attempt to renegotiate a long term deal. But Groves will have Goldenboy Promotions on the phone at some stage if he hasn’t already, he is hot property and now is the time for him to capitalise on his new found fame.
Make no mistake, George Groves will be World Champion. You will struggle to find anyone in the world at 168lbs who will want to share the ring with him. He could even move up to Light Heavy in years to come, the world truly is his oyster.