"Saint" George Groves is like boxing's version of Richard Sherman—at least when it comes to his rivalry with WBA and IBF super middleweight champion Carl "The Cobra" Froch. But like Sherman, Groves will have to prove he's the man when it's time to perform.
The two fighters from England will do battle for the second time on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.
Groves is quite the trash-talker and antagonist. His demeanor makes you think he could do well as a heel in the WWE. Before the first bout with Froch, Groves agitated the champion with his demeanor, insults and lack of respect for the 36-year-old.
He's even calling his shot ahead of the bout. Per BBC Sports, Groves said: "It'll be the left hook that finishes Carl Froch on Saturday. Anyone who's watched the workouts will know we've been working on left hooks and the left hook will work."
The 26-year-old Groves should effectively look up to Froch—and he probably does—but he'd never let him know that. That would potentially surrender the mental edge he seems to have over his opponent.
In their first bout, Groves surprised Froch with his speed and punching power. He dropped Froch in the first round and gave him real trouble. The wily and tough veteran escaped but was still being outboxed through the first six rounds.
In the seventh, things began to change a little. Groves began to tire and Froch gained some momentum. In the ninth round, Froch hit Groves with a shot that hurt him. The challenger covered and took a few more around his guards. He looked far from finished when referee Howard John Foster jumped in to call a halt to the bout.
It was a controversial ending, to say the least.
While Froch emerged with the win, the annoyance from Groves didn't go away. Now his rival had real substance to point to when he suggests he is the better man.
Froch badly wants to silence Groves once and for all. This dynamic and series of events is precisely what makes this rivalry so compelling.
James Dudko of B/R wrote: "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 champion's nerves are disturbed heading into this bout, and he realizes he must do something to get a handle on things. He hired Manchester United's mind coach Chris Marshall, per Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail.
Talk about giving the antagonist some fuel. Here's what Groves said after hearing of the addition to Froch's team, per Powell: "He’s getting help trying to control himself but it’s not a psychologist he needs. It’s a psychiatrist."
As much as Groves is winning the battle of words, he's going to have to win the real fight on Saturday. Even though he fought well against Froch the first time, there is still room for improvement.
Had he not allowed The Cobra to escape in the first round, there wouldn't have been a controversial ending. Also, Groves must address his stamina issue. He simply didn't have the life or snap on his punches after the sixth round.
Froch is a finely conditioned athlete and an old pro. He'll have some reserve left in the tank. If need be, Froch will be looking to take his opponent out into deep waters to drown him late in the fight.
Lastly, the bout takes place at one of the largest venues in the country. Is Groves really ready for this atmosphere?
Per BBC Sport, Groves said, "I'm going to go out and perform on Saturday night and become world champion and do it on the big stage looking very good doing it."
We'll find out on Saturday. When the fight is over, Groves' talk will either be cheap or prophetic.
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