George Groves will only step into the ring for his rematch with Carl Froch if foreign officials are provided, something he calls "conditional on the fight going ahead."
As reported by David Anderson and Alex Richards of the Mirror, Groves has ensured UK-based officials can't take control of the bout with a sneaky insertion into his contract:
A staggering 54,000 tickets were snapped up in the first hour of availability on Monday, but the challenger has had a clause inserted in the fight contract and says he will withdraw from the bout if he does not have foreign officials.
Groves feels he was harshly treated during the opening bout, which saw referee Howard Foster step in quickly to end the battle during a moment of trouble for the super-middleweight title challenger. He suggests a conspiracy could be at play after seeing Foster "like" a Facebook status that said Froch would win in the ninth—prior to the fight—per Anderson and Richards' report:
It may sound pathetic, but it's a public statement on a social media site for the whole world to see. I'm not even friends with Howard Foster and I could see it from my account. Be it conscious or sub-conscious, either way it would have an effect on the fight. It made him biased.
Groves has been on the verbal warpath since the initial fight ended and worked diligently to ensure he received a second shot at Froch's title. The pair came face-to-face during Monday's press conference, a meeting that highlighted the intensity of the rivalry.
Froch deliberately failed to make eye contract with Groves throughout the day, but he showed a moment of weakness during a photo opportunity at Wembley. With Groves continuing to square up to his opponent, Froch decided to push the challenger in front of the cameras, a move that could land him a sanction from the Boxing Board of Control, per Gareth A. Davies of The Telegraph:
Groves, who staggered back from the push, remonstrated with promoter Eddie Hearn afterwards and with the two-belt world champion.
Robert Smith, the British Boxing Board general secretary, told The Telegraph: "We will study the footage the Sky Sports cameras picked up and will respond under our rules."
Froch could be cited for bringing the sport into disrepute ahead of the £20million fight.
Groves also enjoyed a minor exchange with Lee Froch, the champion's brother, and he continued to berate his opposition's sibling on Twitter:
Check out Lee 'I wear sunnies in the dark' Froch from todays presser! Man this guy is cool! http://t.co/8qdYRNq308— George Groves (@StGeorgeGroves) March 10, 2014
Froch was less combative and opted to thank the fans for their support, perhaps a wise move after his shove earlier in the day:
Unbelievable response from today's Press-Conf. Big thanks to everyone buying tickets. I will make sure you're all conclusively entertained!— Carl Froch (@Carl_Froch) March 10, 2014
No matter which side your allegiance resides on, both fighters are sure to make a number of stumbles in the lead up to this fight. Groves' continuous trash-talking is a ploy to frustrate Froch, especially after the Nottingham-based brawler admitted he "almost paid dearly" for being caught up in the mind games of the first encounter, per ESPN.
Froch has already shown a moment of weakness by getting physical at Wembley and will need to seriously rein it in, especially as Groves will aim to exploit his opponent's frustration at every moment should he receive the foreign officials he desires before the battle can go ahead.