Carl Froch stops George Groves in the ninth round to successfully defend super-middleweight titles
Carl Froch comes back from first-round knockdown to finish off George Groves in controversial fashion
By Gareth A Davies, telegraph.co.uk
In one of the most pulsating all-British fights in modern times, Carl Froch retained the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation titles in a mire of controversy here after referee Howard Foster stepped in prematurely in the ninth round to shield challenger George Groves.
Controversial result: George Groves was unhappy with the decision to stop the fight in the ninth round Photo: ACTION IMAGES
A dramatic, and dissatisfying end to what was a coruscating battle of will and assault, as both men fought to a standstill in a thriller, in which Groves outfought, outboxed, and out-thought the decorated champion for long periods of the fight.
That said, Froch took everything on that granite chin of his, and replied with counters and power punches of his own. Both in the eighth and ninth rounds, Froch was beginning to damage Groves, and it was under a barrage of punches that Foster puts his arms around the Londoner to wave the fight off, which caused consternation in the arena.
Froch ended up being booed by the crowd; Groves celebrated like a champion. The rarified atmosphere was like the Coliseum in Rome, as Groves got the clear thumbs up after taking it to the champion. Referee Foster was escorted out of the arena, being shielded by six large security guards.
Father time and the fast hands and self belief of young challenger Groves saw him in the fight from the off, and when he floored the champion, catching him cold with a left-right in the opening round, it looked like the underdog may have his night.
This was the same kind of punishing fight Froch indulged in with Jean Pascal in 2008, when he lifted the World Boxing Council 12st crown. But five years on, against a man 11 years his junior, it looked a dangerous ploy.
In the opening round, Froch was down on the canvas from a left and a right cross from Groves. There were only seconds left in the round. Until the moment the fight exploded dramatically, it had been a battle of the jab.
Groves’ handspeed was noticeably the quicker and the younger fighter by 11 years took the fight to the champion, looking for openings. Groves had revealed exact details of how he planned to take the fight to Froch but it was clear from the outset he would also be up against the vast majority of the 20,000-capacity crowd who booed him to the ring. Groves did almost exactly as he had promised, coming out crouching behind his jab and finding some early success.
This match up always had the makings of a classic, and here were the early signs. Early in the second round, they exchanged hooks, Froch landing two powerful left, only for Groves to respond with two beautifully timed two overhand rights of his own.
There was no letting up for round after round, as both proud men looked to put their rival to sleep, at times they swung wildly. Then Groves had to weather a storm, a welt under his left eye, as Froch had the better of the end of the third round, but still looked wide open when Groves was countering. At this point, Froch began to talk of discomfort and may have broken his jaw.
There was no letting up in the fourth. Froch landed a left coming out of an exchange, then Groves bullied in with single shots of his own. The action was relentless. A leaping right hook from Groves landed with a crash into the left hand side of Froch’s face stopping him in his tracks.
Rounds five, six and seven took the fight to a new level. They exchanged jabs, they moved and exchanged for control in the centre of the ring. It was becoming a trial of strength, self-belief and chins.
Groves was the aggressor in the sixth, but somehow the champion stayed on his feet after a series of heavy shots. Then the roles reversed and Groves was under pressure himself, finishing the assault by pushing his head in on Froch.
Referee Foster warned him, as he did on several occasions during the fight with both men. Froch was warned in the eighth for putting his forearm into Groves neck, after an attack, but the action was unabated.
Froch began to work his way into the fight in the eighth and ninth rounds, alternating assaults on Groves head and body, but the challenger kept his nerve and focus. Groves was arguably three rounds up as they went into the ninth. Brilliant fight, knee-jerk officiating at the end.
What a fight to close the evening, but the pathos of the ending left the sense that this rivalry is not yet complete. Froch agreed a rematch; Groves consented. If they go at it again, British boxing will be the winner.
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