Froch vs. Groves, the Rematch

Six months ago, Carl Froch, holder of several belts as a super middleweight, fought his fellow Englishman “Saint” George Groves. Groves, ten years younger than Froch, gave the champion all he could handle: he knocked Froch down in the 1st and dominated the early rounds. Froch came back, however, and in the 9th had Groves in trouble. Even though Groves was never knocked down, the referee stopped the fight and awarded the win to Froch on a TKO. Groves was well ahead on points, and pretty much everyone thought the stoppage was premature. The consensus was that Groves had been robbed.

Fast forward to tonight: the long-awaited rematch, Froch vs. Groves, at London’s Wembley Stadium before a crowd of 80,000. Many Americans do not realize that boxing is huge in Europe. But it is, as the 80,000-strong crowd at Wembley shows. It was a rainy day here in Minnesota, so my son and I dialed up the fight on HBO.

Froch is now 36 and Groves 26. But 36 is no longer elderly for a boxer, and Froch was a slight betting favorite. The preliminaries featured pyrotechnics and Groves entering on a double decker London bus–he is a London native, while Froch is from Nottingham. This was the biggest all-England boxing match in quite a few years.

Groves dominated the first three rounds, as Froch, a notoriously slow starter, seemed a little sluggish. Here, Groves lands a right. Click to enlarge:

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But then the tide started to turn. Froch, who looks considerably bigger than Groves, gained steam as the fight went on, and he began to dominate the middle rounds. Groves has an unorthodox style–”weird” might be a more apt description–and he keeps his left glove down around his knees most of the time. You keep waiting for it to catch up with him, but he makes up for that style with lots of head movement and way better than average quickness.

Still, the price inevitably must be paid. In the 8th, one round earlier than the controversial stoppage of their first fight, Froch saw an opportunity and landed a right on Groves’s jaw, as perfect a punch as you will ever see. Groves arguably may have been loading up for a left hook, but it seemed clear to me that the punch was enabled by his chronically low left hand:

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I’ve probably seen a more devastating punch, but I can’t offhand remember when. The referee almost immediately signaled that the fight was over. The amazing thing was that after a few seconds–theoretically, in time to beat the bell–Groves struggled to his feet. But this time, the stoppage was a good one. Groves was clearly done for the night.

So Froch retained his titles and will live to fight for another big payday. This being England, we can hardly forget to mention the WAGs–wives and girlfriends–a concept that the U.K. has made famous. Froch’s girlfriend is Rachael Cordingley, a model and possibly a singer, who knows. They have been together for around a decade, and their relationship has entailed significant sacrifices on her part:

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After his triumph tonight, Froch proposed to Miss Cordingley in the ring. News accounts suggest, however, that the proposal may have been only symbolic and any actual engagement will await future developments:

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So that’s a wrap on another big evening of boxing. Looking ahead, this summer is packed with exciting events. It could be one of the most fun summers of boxing, ever. Americans tend to think of boxing as a sport in perpetual decline, but by doing so, they overlook the renaissance the sport is experiencing in Europe, Asia, Africa and around the world. We are living, actually, in a golden age of boxing, or would be if it weren’t for the multiplicity of title-awarding organizations, the competing promoters, and so on. Still, wherever you go, even in the U.S., there is a thriving boxing culture.

More to come on this subject, but in the meantime, let’s appreciate Carl Froch’s dominating performance tonight.

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