Charlie Fitch Confirmed as Carl Froch vs. George Groves Referee

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 10:  Carl Froch and George Groves argue as tempers flare up after the Press Conference at Wembley Stadium on March 10, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Update from Wednesday, May 28

The IBF has put an end to the potential refereeing crisis surrounding the rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves.

Charlie Fitch has been confirmed for the fight, as revealed by Eddie Hearn to Sky Sports:

There was another objection over the referee from Team Groves but the IBF made the decision last night that Charlie Fitch will referee the fight.

The judges are now in place. No more dramas. Probably a few little mind games going back and forth but we're all set, the fight's on and we're ready to go.


Original Text

Preparations for Britain’s biggest boxing match in decades are fully underway, but Carl Froch vs. George Groves II is in danger of being plunged into a refereeing crisis, with fresh objections emerging about the man that faces the unenviable task of getting between the two fighters.

Charlie Fitch was seemingly set to officiate the bout after concerns were levied by promoter Eddie Hearn against the initial candidate, Jack Reiss. But according to Sky Sports, Fitch’s credentials have also come in for some scrutiny, casting doubt over his potential appointment.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 04:  Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn poses for a photo at the announcement that Wembley Stadium will stage the rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves on May 31 at Wembley Stadium on March 4, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mi
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

This latest news has sparked the IBF into action, and the governing body is now considering a third candidate, with their Championships Chairman Lindsey Tucker refusing to confirm Fitch as the referee for Saturday’s showdown, per Sky Sports:

No, not saying that because we had some discussions and different people complained about different ones.

Yes there were discussions about a third one, but I'm not at liberty to give out any names.

Whilst the IBF remains confident of appointing a referee within the next 24 hours, it is understandable as to why there is a seemingly stringent recruitment process ahead of this battle. The first fight between the two was stopped by referee Howard Foster in controversial circumstances, with Groves deemed unfit to continue in Round 9.

Make your own mind up on whether you think the scrap should have been halted:

In truth, little of the pre-fight hyperbole has centred around the refereeing appointment, with both men naturally focused on their training and their opponent. Hopefully, a rematch can bring closure to this thrilling rivalry, although it’s a perilously difficult fight to call second time round.

But that hasn't stopped British fighter Amir Khan going out on a limb and making his pick for the Wembley showpiece.

Khan has made his prediction for the hotly anticipated fight.
Khan has made his prediction for the hotly anticipated fight.Harry How/Getty Images

Khan, who made an impressive debut at welterweight with a win over Luis Collazo earlier this month, thinks the experienced Froch will once again have too much for his opponent, per David Anderson in The Mirror:

I think Froch will take it with the experience he’s got. He might start a bit quicker and be more composed. I think he is taking Groves more seriously, 100 per cent.

This time you’re not hearing him saying things about Groves and for the last fight, he talked so much rubbish. He got too involved in Groves’ games. I've not seen much this time.

Former heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis agrees with Khan and expects Froch to have learnt plenty from the first bout:

Indeed, there is plenty of credence to Khan’s view that Froch underestimated his less-illustrious opponent last time out. Groves seized on that complacency early on in the previous fight, putting Froch on the mat with a shuddering right hand in Round 1.

Froch never really recovered from that knockdown, and whilst he did eventually stop Groves later on with a flurry of blows, the Nottingham-born man was way short of his dynamic best. But he took Groves’ best shots and hung in there.

In the build-up to this fight, Froch looks refocused, and it’s difficult to argue against Khan’s logic that the 36-year-old will emerge victorious again second time round.

Groves surpassed expectations in the first fight and proved he has the credentials to compete at world level. But there was a lingering sense post fight that he’d let slip his best opportunity of beating the super-middleweight champion.