Carl Froch's clash with George Groves is currently the best reason to watch British Boxing. This is a genuinely intense rivalry between two solid fighters at different ends of the age and stylistic spectrum.
The two super-middleweights are separated by 10 years in age. The 26-year-old Groves is the young upstart compared to Froch, a grizzled veteran.
While Groves is considered the more cerebral, cagey fighter, Froch is a true mauler. He is defined by his appetite for a scrap as well as his ability to absorb the big shots and dish some out in return.
When the pair met back in November, the tensions were obvious and controversy was inevitable. It ensued once referee Howard Foster halted proceedings, feeling Groves had taken too much punishment.
Froch retained his WBA amd IBF World titles, but it was not a popular decision. But any questions about the first fight can be answered at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, May 31.
Here are three predictions for how this grudge match will play out.
Froch Will Score an Early Knockdown
Whether he wants to admit it or not, Froch certainly took Groves lightly in their first meeting. The experienced champion will be determined to put that right during the early stages at Wembley.
Froch will steam into Groves early, attempting to trap the quicker challenger on one side of the ring. Once there, Froch will begin working the body, the way he did so effectively in Manchester.
With Groves rattled by the early onslaught, Froch will land a trademark left hook in one of the opening three rounds. The punch will be strong and precise enough to drop Groves, serving as the highlight of Froch's initial flourish.
Both Fighters Will Incur Penalties
It's no secret these two fighters simply don't like each other. Froch considers the cocksure Groves disrespectful.
Groves, for his part, has hardly challenged that view. He has repeatedly goaded the older champion, per Kevin Mitchell of The Observer:
He will have to come up with something new, something that's relevant. If he says something that contradicts what he's said before, I'm going to pull it apart. That's what activates him the most. I will verbally bully him, with Eddie sitting next to him, trying to talk for him.
Meanwhile, Froch has consistently doubted Groves' toughness. In an interview with Mitchell for The Observer, Froch made it clear what he thinks about Groves' chances of going the distance in London:
"A fool can never be made to question his own wisdom. And George Groves is very foolish. He believes his own nonsense. He cannot stay with me for 12 rounds. He’s not tough enough."
The testy relationship between the two will boil over beyond the rules at Wembley. Both fighters pushed the boundaries of legality to the breaking point during their first encounter.
Froch was fortunate to escape a penalty for a flurry of late shots after Foster had stepped in and called for a break late in the eighth round. For his part, Groves wasn't shy about throwing a shot after the bell.
This time, referee Charlie Fitch won't be so liberal with the rules. Expect both fighters to fall foul of the referee and lose at least a point apiece for dubious practice.
Groves' Speed Will Make the Difference
Groves can win this fight if he trusts his agility and quicker feet and hands to outmaneuver the rather plodding Froch. Groves proved in the first fight that he can set a pace Froch struggles to cope with.
Writing for The Observer, former WBO cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson highlights speed as Groves' best weapon:
The key to victory for George Groves is to set the pace and tempo. That’s what he did for six rounds of the first fight until he got involved in a tear-up. He needs to use his speed – he is much faster than Carl Froch – and his boxing brain.
Of course, Froch has always had success relying on a methodical, wear-down approach. But if he can't get near to Groves often enough to land punishing blows, Froch will begin to struggle.
It's also worth noting that Groves proved in the first contest that he can put together swift combinations. He surprised Froch more than once with a left hook after a familiar overhand right.
The speed of both Groves' feet and hands will be the decisive factor the longer this fight goes.
Predicted Winner: George Groves
The Hammersmith-born super-middleweight will be buoyed by a London fight. He'll also be too quick and a little more cagey for Froch this time.
They'll be no boyishly leading with his head to prove a point. This time, Groves will keep Froch moving and pick him off with several telling flurries of shots.
Expect a points win for the younger boxer.
Carl Froch vs. George Groves II airs Saturday, May 31 live on HBO from Wembley Stadium in London. The telecast begins at 4:00 p.m. ET/PT
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