Amidst a crackling atmosphere British stars Carl Froch and George Groves both made weight ahead of their eagerly anticipated IBF super middleweight title fight in Manchester tomorrow night.
Groves, the challenger, was greeted by a cacophony of boos upon arrival but weighed in at a trim 166.8 pounds ahead of his first world title bout. “The Saint,” who has been tagged as the villain of the bout, remained stoic and unfazed throughout a surprising, and extremely hostile reception from his countrymen.
In sharp contrast the crowd erupted for Froch (THE RING No. 1 at 168 pounds behind champion Andre Ward). The IBF titleholder weighed 167.75 pounds and looked to be bursting with power and energy, as he flashed a broad smile for the cameras, before calmly stepping off the scales.
During the faceoff Groves (THE RING No. 5 at 168 pounds) looked intently at Froch but didn’t utter a word, whereas the Nottingham man continually whispered in the ear of the challenger who, at 25 years of age, is eleven years his junior.
“It was me and him, mano-a-mano,” Froch told Sky Sports, when asked about what was said. “You can imagine what I told him. I didn’t invite him for Sunday lunch, let’s put it that way.”
Froch (31-2, 22 knockouts) is coming off a revenge win over Mikkel Kessler in May and is currently enjoying the best form of his career. Still, this will be the first occasion where “The Cobra” defends a world title against a fellow Brit, and he is eager for the opening bell.
“I’m genuinely excited because this is such a big fight and that spells disaster for Groves, because I will be at my best. I can’t see him going the distance, he’s getting knocked out – simple as that.
“I’m gonna give this chump a whipping. Enjoy it tomorrow night as I won’t be around forever. You heard the crowd reaction (towards Groves), he’s put himself in the bad guy position and I can’t wait to fight.”
Groves (19-0, 15 KOs) is unbeaten in nineteen professional starts but has never mixed with opposition of this caliber. That said, he is undoubtedly skilled and his speed and athleticism cannot be underestimated.
“The Battle of Britain,” which has been promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions, will be live and exclusive on Sky Sports Box Office HD (Channel 752) from 8.00pm in the UK, and the fight will also air live in the U.S. on AWE (and also stream on awetv.com.)
Photos by Lawrence Lustig
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing