Time to move on in quest for Groves v Froch rematch
It’s a rematch the boxing world wants to see, but it’s a contest I fear will never see the light of day.
And in all fairness, why should it? Regardless of the controversy and furore surrounding referee Howard Foster’s decision, Carl Froch successfully defended his IBF and WBA super middleweight crowns against the best 168lb opponent Britain had to offer - George Groves.
There’s no rational reasoning for the Cobra, a four-time world champion, to take a step back at this stage of a decorated career. Froch has already conceded that there won’t be many more outings, so it’s imperative that he moves forward and signs off on a high.
There’s public demand for the rematch, because a section of the population feel that Foster’s decision to stop the contest, consequently awarding Froch a ninth round TKO, was premature. I disagree.
Froch delivered a devastating flurry, and Groves was gone. His head and arms were slumped, his back turned and his eyes vacant. He was hurt. If Foster hadn’t intervened, Groves would’ve been floored or would’ve touched down at the very least.
And if it was the latter, how much more could Groves endure? Don’t be swayed by the occasion and the resulting delirium, Groves didn’t drop to his knees in despair or devastation – he simply plunged through exhaustion and disorientation, staying upright courtesy of the ropes that cushioned his torso.
Trainer Joe Gallagher likened the situation to the iconic sporting image that transcends generations with Muhammad Ali knocking out George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle. Similarly, Groves is off balance and plummeting.
While Groves has a debatable reputation of being ‘chinny’, Froch is renowned for his prowess and expertise in the final four rounds – the ‘championship’ rounds.
So for those preaching that Groves was breezing the bout on points, look again. At that point the ringside judges Dave Parris, Waleska Roldan and Massimiliano Bianco had scored the bout 78-73, 76-75 and 76-75 in favour of the mandatory challenger.
Therefore, with Froch landing the knock down, and presumably going on to take the ninth round 10-8, the Nottingham fighter would’ve edged ahead on the scorecards as well. As much as Groves impressed me during the epic Battle of Britain, and as well as he did in the opening exchanges, there’s really not much of an argument for him. But his time will come.
There are certainly options now for Froch. Those opportunities had opened after quelling retirement talk with an impressive fifth round stoppage of the previously undefeated Romanian Lucian Bute in his home town 18 months ago. And now they’ve been exacerbated with the triumph against Groves.
Froch, who is now 32-2 with four consecutive wins against Bute, Yusaf Mack, Mikkel Kessler and Groves, may look to avenge the defeat against the world’s second best pound-for-pound fighter Andre Ward. Would there be the incentive for Ward to fight on British shores?
Then there’s the marquee figure of former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr, or alternatively there’s the undisputed WBA world and IBO middleweight knockout king Gennady Golovkin.
Before the war with Groves, amid the verbal onslaughts, Froch told me: “Last time out against Ward I didn’t want to be there. It’s a bad attitude to have but it was Christmas and I wanted to be at home with my son.
“Ward’s quick, hard-working and tricky but if I was to fight him in England with the attitude I’ve had in my last few fights then I’d beat him.
“If I hadn’t beaten Bute then I would’ve retired definitely. If I beat Groves then it’ll set me up for a super fight with Chavez Jnr or Golovkin. I’ll retire when the time is right.”
Froch has everything to lose and nothing to win in a rematch with Groves. Facing Ward, however, would be the antithesis. Pitting the top two fighters in the division against each other, in a trans-Atlantic battle, would be the ultimate contest.
The 29-year-old, who hails from California, sports a perfect record from 27 outings, though recently had his super middleweight title stripped from him by the WBC due to inactivity.
Ward dismantled Edwin Rodriguez in mid-November and the logical step for him would be to challenge himself once more against the next biggest name in the division. It all adds up to Ward versus Froch II.
Sakio Bika will defend the WBC super middleweight title against Anthony Dirrell this month, but neither of the pair boasts Froch’s reputation or value.
I’m sure Matchroom Sport messrs Barry and Eddie Hearn will strive to make the rematch with Groves happen. A prospect so viscerally thrilling has led promoters to believe that the sequel could be moved from the 20,000 capacity hub of Manchester’s Phones 4U Arena to Old Trafford, the Olympic Stadium or Wembley.
Public demand is feverish at the moment and there’s money to be made. It all depends whether Froch can be enticed by one final, extremely lucrative pay-day.
But Froch, a highly-rated pay per view fighter in his own right, has dispatched that compulsory defence and it’s time to move on.
After all, sport is all about progression and not regression.