Six months ago, Carl Froch and George Groves put on a terrific show for nine rounds. The budding rivals went back and forth with the WBA and IBF super middleweight titles on the line before Froch was declared the winner by a knockout.
It's not often a knockout victory is controversial. In fact, that's usually the only way to win without complaints about poor judging. But the title defense was called into question due to a quick stoppage by the referee.
There was probably a good chance a rematch was on the horizon given the exciting nature of the bout, but the controversy ensured it. Now the British stars are ready for a second encounter with Froch's titles up for grabs once again.
Where: Wembley Stadium in London, England
When: Saturday, May 31 at 4 p.m. ET/9 p.m. BST
Watch: HBO (U.S.) and Sky Sports Box Office (U.K.)
Groves entered the first meeting with 19 straight wins to start his career. He proceeded to knock the champion down with a quick right-handed strike in the opening round. It served as a major wake-up call for Froch, who's never been knocked out.
The veteran deserves a lot of credit for bouncing back from that early setback to get back into the fight. It was pretty close heading into the ninth round and could have gone either way if it ended up going the distance rather than being stopped.
To the surprise of many, the bout was called in Froch's favor. The bright side was the result led to what should be another intriguing battle between the duo.
As you'd expect, the rematch has generated plenty of hype in the United Kingdom. It represents the type of fight that really has a chance to help revitalize British boxing, especially if it lives up to or exceeds the standard set by the first meeting.
Gareth Davies of the Telegraph reports 80,000 tickets have been sold for the event at London's iconic Wembley Stadium. He also provided information about the base payout both fighters will receive:
Carl Froch, the super-middleweight champion from Nottingham, has been guaranteed £8 million for his blockbuster two-belt world title defence against challenger George Groves, who will earn £2 million, at Wembley Stadium on Saturday night.
The first question heading into the fight is whether Froch will be a little more conservative in the early rounds this time around. He left himself open too much last time, and while that style eventually helped get him back in the fight, it almost cost him in the first round.
It could very well lead to a more moderately paced bout, at least in the early going. At 36, Froch has no shortage of experience, but the early flurries from Groves seemed to catch him off guard. It would be a surprise if he doesn't make an adjustment.
The champion also doesn't lack motivation. Sky Sports passed along comments from him about the importance of the fight in the grand scheme of his career:
Every fight is equally important but because of the stage of my career, these two world titles and the fact that it's an immediate return with George Groves, it's got that air of extra important (sic) about it. It's big.
It's by far the biggest fight of my unbelievable career and that's given me the motivation and apprehension that I need to perform at my best.
In the opposite corner, Groves is seeking his big breakthrough. Despite his 19-1 record, he still lacks the marquee wins necessary to reach the next level. Beating Froch to become the IBF and WBA champion would help him take that next step.
For Froch, the biggest key is finding a way to balancing using his immense power without getting too aggressive. The first time around, he almost seemed overconfident, leading to a fight that was closer and more entertaining than anticipated.
Groves must also strike a balance, but his has to do with preserving some energy. Last time, he was able to push Froch early, but he didn't seem to have much left for the late rounds. That allowed the champion to connect with some heavy shots in the ninth round.
When you pair those two factors, fans will probably witness a fight that starts off a little slower than last time. Then around the fourth or fifth round, things should really begin to pick up and it should be a fantastic brawl from that point forward.
Ultimately, Froch holds a slight edge thanks to his experience in bigger fights and the power he still possesses in his mid-30s. While it wouldn't be a surprise to see him score another late-round knockout, a win by decision seems more likely.
Prediction: Froch by majority decision
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