By Sean Crose
If, like most Americans, you haven’t seen the Carl Froch-George Groves fight from last fall, then by all means watch it immediately. It was a hell of a brawl and it ended with a whole lot of controversy. Froch, for those of you who don’t know, is an IBF and WBA super middleweight title holder out of Great Britain. He’s also a first class action fighter. Imagine a bigger version of Ray Mancini with a British accent and you get the general idea.
Froch is so good, in fact, that he’s only lost twice in his life. Against serious opponents. Opponents he wasn’t afraid to face, it should be noted. The first defeat came to world class Dane, Mikkel Kessler, a man Froch came back to conquer three years later. Froch’s only other loss was to American Andre Ward, a man who, at the moment, NO ONE has been able to beat.
So, with a top notch resume and a huge fan base at home, Froch met the IBFs mandatory contender George Groves at Manchester’s packed Phones4U Arena (and you think our corporate named arenas sound ridiculous) on November 23d of last year. Groves, also from England, boasted a very impressive 18-0 record with 15 knockouts. Still, poor George was booed on his way to the ring. He was fighting the hero, Carl Froch, after all.
How much things can change after eight and a half rounds of boxing. By the time he left the ring that night, Groves was sent off not with more boos, but with wild cheering. Why? Because he had dropped the great Froch. Because he had owned Froch for about twenty full minutes of fighting. And, most importantly, because the fans felt he had subsequently been robbed by referee Howard Foster.
Froch, you see, had finally connected against Groves in the ninth round. Big time. He had sent Groves into the ropes and had kept on punching. Groves looked in trouble, no doubt about it. Yet he didn’t go down. Nor did he look dead on his feet. Still, referee Foster stepped in and stopped the bout. Froch may have walked out of the arena with his titles, but there was a whole lot of controversy in the wake of his victory.
Groves was furious. The fans were furious. Everyone, it seemed, was furious (except, of course, for Froch). A rematch was clearly in order. Froch needed to prove ownership of his title and Groves deserved a second chance. Unfortunately, however, the path to Froch-Groves II was far from smooth. Money, of course, was an issue. There was also the issue of Froch possibly being hesitant to face Groves a second time.
Most importantly, however, there was a serious personality conflict between Froch and Groves. Both guys felt disrespected by the other. Sore feelings were in such abundance that they were clearly affecting the possibility of a second fight. This week, however, there was finally a breakthrough and both camps were able to make a deal. In short, the Froch-Groves rematch is now indeed going to happen. The two men will meet again in England on May 31’st to settle things in the ring (hopefully in an indisputable fashion).
And boxing fans should be grateful. The first fight was war. All out war. A second bout promises to be more of the same. The question now is: How will we Yanks get to see this thing? Never mind online streaming, how will we Americans be able to watch the bout live on what Brits call the telly? Sure, this is a big fight for England, but it’s a big international fight, as well. One that deserves to be televised worldwide.
And scratch that Pay Per View Stuff right now. Britain’s Sky Sports has every right in the world to cash in on this one across the pond, but over here it’s another story. In America, this bout needs to be shown on pay cable, at most. Neither Froch nor Groves is better than super middleweight king Ward, after all, so it’s not like this is an insanely relevant event. It’s just a supremely exciting one that promises to deliver in a big way. HBO and Showtime need to step up to the plate. So does Eddie Hearn, the fight’s promoter.
The fans deserve to see this one. All the fans.