By Jackie Kallen
While boxing fans on this side of the Atlantic are anxiously awaiting the Cotto-Martinez fight next weekend, their UK counterparts are salivating over this weekend’s fireworks. Carl Froch is putting his IBF and WBA Super-middleweight belts on the line against George Groves in what could be one of the biggest fights in British boxing history. It will be seen here on HBO.
Wembley Stadium is predicted to be filled to the rafters with about 80.000 fans on Saturday when these two esteemed foes face off for the second time. The first time they met, last November, it left fans with a sour taste in their mouths. Froch was awarded the win via TKO in the 9th round, but many fans felt the fight should not have been stopped.
At 36 years old, Froch is a veteran who has been in with the likes of Andre Ward, Mikkel Kessler, Lucian Bute, Arthur Abraham, Andre Dirrell and Jermain Taylor. He has never been stopped and is definitely one of the top men in his weight class. Next to Andre Ward, few are considered as good.
Twenty six year-old George Groves is a hungry, hard-hitting puncher who has annihilated 75% of his opponents. His list of conquests is not nearly as illustrious as Froch’s. But when these two met six months ago, Groves set the pace by dropping Froch in the very first round.
Stunned but not to be shaken out of his game plan, Froch fought bravely on. He endured an unusual amount of punishment and looked pretty war-worn when he finally started to fight back in the middle rounds. With Groves keeping the fight in the middle of the ring and dominating, it was Froch’s 9th round flurry that prompted the ref to step in and call the fight.
The crowd erupted in chaotic protest. Even the Froch fans were startled. They realized that their man was not looking his best and the ten-years younger Groves was exposing Froch’s age and deficits. But Froch got the win and the booing crowd was incensed. Groves had walked into the ring as a zero and left as a hero.
Groves protested and the IBF ordered a rematch. Both fighters have trained hard and both are predicting victory. Froch claims to have learned a valuable lesson about the awkward youngster. He plans to fight him differently this time.
On the other hand, Groves feels that he now knows exactly how to dismantle Froch’s offense and break him down. His strategy this time includes a stronger defense and a faster pace. He says he’ll keep Froch going backward and won’t allow him room to get in many shots.
England is going crazy over this rematch. Twenty years ago it was Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn who created this kind of UK frenzy. Now it is Froch and Groves. Even people who are not fight fans are weighing in on this fight. It’s the talk in offices, at pubs, and on the street. The long-time Froch fans are standing behind their idol. The younger Groves fan disagree and are expecting to hear the words “…..and new………”
This should be an exciting fight regardless of who wins. Any time we see the young upstart against the wizened pro, it’s an interesting faceoff.