The British public will see a rematch of Carl Froch's stirring TKO victory over George Groves six months ago. In handing Groves his first career loss, Froch retained the WBA and IBA super middleweight titles, cementing his status as the best fighter in his weight class.
Nevertheless, the feisty 26-year-old clearly believes it is his time to unseat the veteran champion, based on his undaunted pre-fight bluster. Groves, still appearing miffed at referee Howard Foster's decision to stop the fight in the ninth round, expressed to The Guardian's Paul Campbell his unwavering belief he is the superior fighter:
"Technically, in a purely boxing sense, I'll beat Carl Froch every day of the week," says Groves. "If he wants to fall apart mentally, so be it. I'm going to do what I do and I don't think Carl could last three rounds at that pace."
Groves has not backed off his bold stance since. At the final pre-fight press conference, the Manchester boxer even went as far as to describe the exact method by which he predicts he'll win:
The 36-year-old Froch remains the favorite, however, and has expressed the same self-assuredness coming off the victory in the first fight. Froch was floored by a massive right hook from Groves in the first round but rebounded with a steady assault on the body to use the younger fighter's aggression against him.
Nevertheless, after being stunned in the first fight, Froch is leaving nothing to chance. According to The Independent's Alan Hubbard, Froch visited a sports psychologist before the bout in an effort to set his mind straight for the loquacious Groves:
Mentally I was not at the races. Physically I was in good shape but mentally I wasn't doing what I needed to do, I had let that idiot boy get under my skin.
He did a good job on me because when I got into the ring after listening to his rubbish, all I wanted to do was punch his face in instead of boxing him. I'm not going to let it happen again.
In truth, Froch did not fight particularly well for the majority of the first meeting, allowing Groves to repeatedly push him onto the ropes. Regardless of what effect Groves' hubris had on Froch, there are no excuses for his inability to move the younger fighter off his front foot and counter earlier.
Indeed, Froch is fortunate that Groves failed to pace himself adequately. The veteran's superior fitness allowed him to move well in the middle rounds as Groves' punches lost their power, forcing the latter to fight off his back foot when he had little gas left. As such, Groves' pacing might actually be the key to the result:
Groves quicker and can hit and skills good enough too. But has to prove strong and disciplined enough over 12 rounds to keep Froch away— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) May 28, 2014
While Groves' potential appears irrepressible, Froch still possesses the savvy to control this fight. If Groves learns from the first fight, Froch could still emerge victorious by being more active instead of hedging so much against the counter. He appeared to respect Groves' speed a bit too much the first fight, which resulted in a passive approach that failed to dictate the tempo.
Groves fought the first fight on his own terms until he wore down, after which Froch's grittiness carried him through. At least one veteran boxer is hoping that Froch's toughness gets rewarded once again:
Im pulling for my guy Froch over Groves in a tough one next week. I think he learned a lot in first fight &will make the proper adjustments.— Lennox Lewis (@LennoxLewis) May 26, 2014
What will be the result of Groves-Froch 2?
It's unclear how much Froch has left, and if Groves pounces upon him once again, he'll surely be more measured in going for the knockout rather than recklessly charging for the head. The world champion cannot fight so long on the defensive again, as Groves' power makes that a perilous proposition.
Regardless, the contrast in styles means that a convincing argument could be made for either fighter. Nothing appears guaranteed in Wembley on Saturday night, as the initial tempo will provide some more clarity for a wide range of possibilities. Based on each fighter's confidence, expect a pair of resilient boxers to put on a classic fight for the super middleweight belts.