George Groves has been dealt a further blow after it was ruled by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) that Howard Foster's decision to stop his bout with Carl Froch was a correct one on Saturday evening.
BBC Sport revealed the news via its official Twitter account:
Foster's ninth-round stoppage had drawn criticism, not least of which from Groves himself, who felt he was able to continue in his search for the IBF and WBA super-middleweight titles.
Speaking with Colin Murray on talkSPORT, Groves labelled Foster's call a "disgraceful decision," carrying on to say:
I proved I belong at a world class level and proved Carl Froch is not the superstar he claims to be, and the first time he had a tiny bit of success the referee jumped in.
You could see in the pictures I was fighting two men at that point because the ref had me in a headlock when Froch was still swinging! It was sickening.
I ended Froch’s career. He’s got two options now - a re-match with me or retire, because no British fan, no matter what Carl Froch says or what’s in the papers, will accept anything else.
Groves got off to a brilliant start at the Phones4u Arena on Saturday and took a surprise advantage in the bout's earlier rounds, dropping Froch and testing his famously stern chin with a series of solid blows.
Although "The Sheriff of Nottingham" began to make his way back into the fight as the rounds wore on, Groves was still ahead on the judges' cards by the time Foster made the choice to stop the fight.
However, the support of the BBBofC gives significant weight to Froch's argument that he won the fight in fair fashion. If he chooses to ignore pleas for a rematch, he can simply point to the BBBofC's ruling as evidence that the rivalry is dead.
Speaking after the bout to Sky Sports, Froch did initially hint to Eddie Hearn that a rematch would be possible, but he has since opened up his avenues and was reported by Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail saying:
I will take a holiday then talk about this with Eddie and take the advice of my trainer Rob McCracken. I have never ducked anyone and if it makes perfect sense I would do it. But I am the champion. I’ve fought all the best super middleweights in the world. I have nothing to prove and nobody has the right to force my hand.
It's uncertain how the BBBofC's decision will affect the mindset of the two fighters. Froch may feel it is closure on a showdown that has not shone a particularly impressive light on him, inside or outside of the ring. Groves, meanwhile, is likely to continue his claims of an injustice.
One thing for sure is that Groves isn't likely to relent in his pursuit of a rematch, where he'll look to right what he sees as wrongs from his most recent encounter.
Certainly he still appeared to be fighting back when the stoppage arrived, and it is on that basis that Saturday's conclusion did not seem just, regardless of the BBBofC's ruling.
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