Now the trash-talking can stop and the real business begin.
On Thursday we were treated to one last head-to-head media conference involving IBF super middleweight holder Carl Froch and undefeated challenger George Groves. Save the weigh in formalities, the next chance for these two warring English rivals to dispute their huge differences will be in the ring this weekend before a rocking 20,000 sell-out crowd at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester.
The campaign to win public opinion, the mind games, the belittling of the other’s achievements and relentless character assassinations are finished, having been concluded by the lunchtime get-together with the world’s press that went out live on Sky Sports News.
Compared with some of their previous encounters, especially on the Ringside show two weeks ago, it was a relatively tame affair. Yet, it still proved an interesting spectacle. West Londoner Groves, true to his word, unveiled his masterplan to upset four-time 168-pound beltwinner Froch, the clear bookies’ favorite to seal a successful third defense of the IBF crown. The unbeaten 25-year-old went through his strategy for the opening nine minutes in some detail, all of which brought a dismissive, scoffing response from his considerably-more experienced compatriot.
“Carl, you are wrong if you think I am going to run, I’m going to come out and meet you, center of the ring first round, and I’m going to win the jab exchanges and I’m going to hit you with two right hands. Just two, to let you know that whenever I want I can hit you with a right hand,” said Groves (19-0, 15 knockouts). “Second round I am going to do the same, center of the ring, win the jab exchanges and hit him with more right hands. Third round I’m going to push him on to the back foot and thereafter you’ll have to see what’s coming next. It’s all up to you, Carl.
“Apparently, I’m chinny but I’ve never been knocked out in 19 and 0. Unbeaten. Carl says he has one-punch knockout power but he doesn’t really knock many opponents out does he? He goes 12 rounds quite a lot. He’s said the same things so often, has contradicted himself so often that it’s hard to follow what he is coming out with. Well, I’ve come here today to do him favor and let him know what I am going to do on Saturday. I can’t help him anymore than that. Take my good advice, Carl, and make some adjustments.”
Froch (31-2, 22 KOs) gave a slightly amused look before firing back with his own volley.
“Stupendous, a double right hand, now I know what to do, thank you,” the Nottingham star, 36, said tongue firmly planted in cheek. “If you are going to stand there and fight, excellent. That’s just what I want. You’re ridiculous. Embarrassing. Pathetic. On Saturday night, I am going to get the chance to put it all right. You are going to get annihilated.
“You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. I am going to flatten you. I can tell by your eyes, by looking at you, that you know you are going to get flattened. That’s it. End of story.”
Groves then demanded to know exactly what Froch could see to fill him with such supreme confidence but, in contrast to that recent Ringside row when he became embroiled in many a non-boxing argument, THE RING’s No. 1 super middleweight declined to take the bait. Not that it stopped Saint George taunting and mocking him further.
“He’s fighting with himself, psychologically,” said grinning Groves. “And he’s losing. How can you lose to yourself? I’m sitting here asking him questions and he falls apart. He’s happy to rant and rave but, as soon as I put it on him he says he doesn’t want to get into it. It makes no sense, Carl.”
And on it went tic for tac for a few minutes more before a stare off for the cameras, a couple of biting remarks from Froch, with both the IBF and WBA ‘regular’ belts slung around the shoulders, and Groves remaining pretty much motionless throughout. Froch broke away first, then went back for more, complaining about Groves’ smelly breath and pink trousers. That forced the younger man to snap and storm off.
Read into that what you may but later, in separate interviews with Sky, both played down any significance. Perhaps even they had had enough of the verbal warfare.
Photos / Alex Livesey-Getty Images, Jan Kruger-Getty Images
Harry Pratt is on Twitter: @gharrypratt