Time is supposed to be the best of healers but clearly two and a bit months has done nothing to improve the relationship of Carl Froch and George Groves.
Valentine's Day is here, yet there is still no love to be lost or found when it comes to this pair of warring English super middleweights, who will lock horns again on May 31 in, arguably, the most anticipated rematch on the boxing planet just now – and, without question, the biggest all-British event in a ring since the heady days of Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn in the early 1990s. The venue will be one of the UK’s major football stadiums. A decision on that is expected within the next a week or so.
But the early-summer date for Froch-Groves II is inked in, having been announced Thursday live on Sky Sports News, with 25-year-old Groves in the studio alongside Matchroom supremo Edde Hearn to put pen to paper on the contract. IBF holder Froch, meanwhile, joined the broadcast via a link from his home in Nottingham. Despite the geographical distance it soon became apparent that these two fighters can wind up one another from just about anywhere, and that the trash talking so prevalent in the build up to their first meeting last November will be equally intense second time round.
The moment Groves began to talk of the injustices of that night in Manchester, when referee Howard Foster seemingly stopped the fight prematurely in the ninth round and handed Froch a highly-contentious TKO in the process, his 36-year-old fellow countryman could not resist interrupting and telling him that everyone is fed up with Groves’ constant objections and appeals – including a successful one to the IBF, which forced the forthcoming rematch, and a failed one to the British Boxing Board of Control to have the only defeat of his career declared a ‘no contest’.
“He’s done a lot of whingeing and moaning and he’s been down many different avenues to try and make certain things happen in his favor,” Froch (32-2, 23 knockouts) said. “The only thing he has done is put himself in the mandatory position with the IBF, which is fine.
“But he likes to make out he hasn’t been moaning but he has – he is a whinger and a moaner by nature. It’s pathetic. Just look forward to the fight, look forward to your pasting on May 31 – that’s when it’s happening.
“I have no interest in talking to you. You’re boring me. I know George Groves was gone in that fight. Even those who thought the ref stopped it too early still agreed the fight was going only one way – and that was with Groves being flattened on his face.
“He knew he was hurt, the referee did him a massive favor. But there is still the question mark. So it’s now up to me to get motivated and finally put it to bed. That’s what I am going to do.”
Groves, though, dismissed that verbal battering by claiming his complaints were both valid and worthwhile – as proven by the fact the fans are so desperate for the rematch and the IBF has ordered it.
He also remains supremely confident of taking revenge – given that he dropped Froch in round one of the previous clash and was ahead on points when the referee called a halt to the action.
“He has to fight me because the fans demanded it and I’m the mandatory with the IBF – that’s where we’re at. If you want to call it whingeing then I will happily whinge to get my world title fight,” said Groves (19-1, 15 KOs).
“If he is getting upset because I am whingeing then that’s a problem he has to deal with. The real problem that he has is he must fight me again soon and he has zero chance of winning. What can he possibly do differently that will help in the next fight? You go into the first fight believing because it hasn’t actually happened. Now, though, we will go into the fight knowing. That’s a massive difference.”
With 15 weeks to go before the first bell of the second encounter, there will be plenty more explosive tit-for-tat digs and swipes. Not that anyone needs to sell Froch-Groves II, which will be shown in the UK on Sky Box Office’s pay-per view service, according to promoter Hearn. He believes they could get an 80,000 crowd no problem – hence, his search for a stadium capable of meeting that unprecedented demand.
“We’re talking to six or seven football clubs,” Hearn said. “It’s such a huge fight. There hasn’t been one day since the first fight that I haven’t been asked: ‘When is the rematch?’. Discussions are taking place with Old Trafford (Manchester United), Emirates (Arsenal), Wembley (England national stadium), Cardiff (Wales’ Millennium Stadium) and the City Ground (Nottingham Forest).
“Credit must go to both men. There was never any doubt in mind that Carl would take this fight. When the IBF backed George and ordered this fight to be next, he was never going to vacate his belt. He doesn’t do that. So he will fight George Groves again – and every British boxing fan should be delighted.”
Photo / Scott Heavey-Getty Images
Harry Pratt is on Twitter: @gharrypratt