Super Middleweight

Top Takeaways from Carl Froch vs. George Groves

James GarnerContributor IJune 1, 2014

Top Takeaways from Carl Froch vs. George Groves

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    Carl Froch reasserted his position as Britain's top super middleweight and probably Britain's best active fighter with a devastating one-punch KO of George Groves in Round 8 of their big-money rematch.

    After the controversy of their previous encounter, this fight came to an incontestable conclusion with Groves in very bad shape on the canvas—he was later given oxygen to aid his recovery and thankfully seemed to recover his senses soon after that.

    It was a much cagier fight than the first affair with both boxers respectful of the power in the other's fists. That made the abrupt conclusion all the more shocking, as neither fighter had come anywhere close to being stopped in the previous seven rounds.

    This writer had the fight scored 68-67, just one point in favour of Froch going into the decisive round, which Groves was actually winning prior to the KO blow. Those numbers are based on Froch winning three rounds, Groves taking two, with two rounds even.

    After the fight, Carl Froch, 36, restated his desire to fight in Las Vegas before retiring from the sport. The most likely opponent for him in America's fight capital is the popular but limited Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a matchup that should guarantee fans good action.

    The night could not have gone much worse for George Groves who was largely unable to replicate his success from the first fight before ending up in a gruesome heap on the mat, his left leg twisted back unnaturally.

    At the age of 26, Groves can certainly come again, but as discussed by Kevin McRae, this will be a difficult defeat to recover from, particularly psychologically. 

    Here are the top takeaways from a record-breaking bout at Wembley Stadium.

1. The KO of the Year?

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    If you somehow haven't seen it or can't resist another look, click here.

    When recaps are written at the end of the boxing year, the most macabre category on the lists is that of knockout of the year.

    Whatever qualms one might have about ranking such things, it is hard to deny the primal fascination of a one-punch stoppage.

    If you factor in the quality of the bout, then 2013 was probably a tossup between Adonis Stevenson versus Chad Dawson and Lucas Matthysse versus Lamont Peterson.

    The year before there is absolutely no question that Juan Manuel Marquez's shock icing of Manny Pacquiao carried the poll. With that bout already attracting a large audience it was inevitable that the KO GIFs would eat up plenty of Internet bandwidth.

    Since then we've had the blessed innovation of the Vine, and Froch has supplied the first KO in a megabout that can be appreciated within that six-second format.

    The right hand that won the day was thrown from somewhere way back in November, and it left Groves really in a bad way. And, as with Marquez-Pacquiao, the referee waived it off without a count.

    In the same respect that Marquez deserved the sudden global recognition his one-shot special earned him, few could begrudge Froch the attention of millions of eyeballs after the long service he has given at the top level of boxing.

    Leaving the last words to the man himself, Froch told the BBC: "I was biding my time and I knew as soon as I landed it correctly on the chin, on the jaw section of cranium, it would be all over and it was. It must be the best punch I have ever thrown and landed in my life."

2. It Was Shaping Up to Be Controversial

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    At the time of the stoppage, the BBC reports that two judges had Froch ahead, with Groves ahead on the third scorecard.

    Nothing shows how open to interpretation the action was better than the fact that after five of the seven rounds were completed the live Sky Sports broadcast in the UK had Froch four rounds to one up, while HBO in the USA had Groves ahead by the same margin the other way.

    Probably both of those cards were a little extreme, but they were within the realms of plausible argument due to the closeness of most rounds on the night.

    Froch definitely won Round 5, and Groves clearly took Round 7, but beyond that it was a case of what you liked.

    In general Froch was leading the action more and forcing Groves around the ring, landing good punches to the body. Groves was fighting in a contained manner off the back foot and in several rounds landed the more eye-catching head shots.

    The BBC's unofficial fight stats had Groves outlanding Froch by 126-96 but with Froch having thrown more punches, leading 349-314. 

    Perhaps the most sensible cards were those that had it within a round either way after Round 7 because neither fighter had really put his stamp on the action up until then.

    What's for certain is that if the 12 rounds had been completed in the style of the opening seven, then Groves fans and bettors would have seen it to him and Froch fanciers the way of the self-styled Cobra—to the inevitable outcome of much loud and obnoxious disagreement.

    Carl Froch spared us another drawn-out controversy by putting the result beyond doubt in Round 8, thus depriving promoter Eddie Hearn and the bean-counters at Sky a third money-spinner between the duo.

3. That's Why Froch Is a Champion

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    This was Carl Froch's 12th world-title fight, and his record stands at 10-2 with one of the 10 wins coming over Mikkel Kessler and thus avenging one of the two defeats.

    For such a successful boxer, Froch is easy to criticise. He is slow, holds his hands low, gets hit a lot and often looks flat-footed and badly coordinated. 

    But those observations simply don't tell the whole story. Froch has gotten away with those weaknesses so many times that you find yourself starting to question to what extent they are weaknesses.

    For whatever the dodgy sources of the ingredients, it can't be denied that Carl Froch has found a winning recipe in the prize ring.

    A huge part of that is his iron will which has kept him in fights, like the first with Groves, from which he seemingly had no right to prosper in.

    You could have lost a lot of money over the years betting on fighters who should have beaten Carl Froch.

    Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell and George Groves are all better technical boxers than the Nottingham man, and yet he has wins over that trio, with Taylor and Groves falling to big knockouts.

    Froch quite simply finds a way to win, and in this fight it is was a shocking one-punch finisher. Even those who predicted a Froch win by stoppage generally envisaged a sustained barrage forcing the conclusion, as seen near the end of the previous Groves match.

    Instead, Froch continues to upset boxing purists by throwing out the textbook and doing it his way. He has his own brand of boxing intelligence and managed to connect with a right hand that was thrown from so far away that you would not expect it to have any chance of landing flush.

    Froch is a man who has a habit of rising to the occasion and bringing his best under the bright lights and on the biggest stage of his career, and he continued that trend in the most visceral of fashions. And that is why he's won quite so many world-title fights.

4. The 1st Fight Was an Anomaly

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    On the basis of the first fight there were plenty of people picking Groves to win by stoppage, with those drinking the Kool-Aid even going with the Londoner inside six rounds, as predicted by him and his trainer.

    Now, you can only base your prediction on the available information. And it wasn't unreasonable to say that Groves had dropped and seriously hurt Froch previously and that Groves is only maturing and growing as a fighter whilst, at 36, Froch could have been thought to be on the decline.

    But now we have more information, and everyone knows better.

    Whether Froch had actually trained harder or not is impossible to know, but he certainly trained smarter and fought with greater consideration of what Groves could do in return.

    Froch never left himself as wide open as he was in the first fight when he allowed himself to get decked viciously in Round 1. Without Froch being an idiot, Groves wasn't enough of an ace to force that kind of situation. Froch was never close to hitting the canvas again.

    On the basis of the first fight you could expect Groves to outbox Froch for large parts of the return. Although Groves won rounds this time and plenty of people had him up at the time of the stoppage, nearly every round was competitive, and Groves did not replicate his superiority from before.

    The likely explanation is that last time out, Froch, having been badly shaken up in the first round, was fighting on autopilot for most of the rounds.

    So whilst George Groves was able to boss the action in November, that was against an incapacitated Froch rather than an aged or outclassed Froch.

    When the real Carl Froch showed up aware of the job he needed to do and neglecting to make the mistakes which put him in trouble last time, we saw the real measure of the Cobra against the Saint.

    That made for a much closer encounter that neither fighter could convincingly claim to have been dominating prior to the ending. It also showed that the first fight was something of an anomaly. 

5. Groves Was Overconfident

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    It is easy to say a fighter was overconfident after he predicts he'll win easily and he gets knocked out. But that happens all the time and isn't necessarily proof that the guy was overconfident. After all, fighters never predict they're going to lose a big match.

    However, in the case of George Groves that logic stands up. This follows on from the last point about the November fight being an anomaly in terms of how Froch and Groves line up against each other.

    Like any young athlete rising the ranks, Groves has always wished that one day his abilities would be proven on the highest stage, and he would emerge as a championship performer.

    For Groves, the first fight was total validation as he lorded it over a proven top-level operator in Carl Froch for most of the evening. He was desperate to believe that this was evidence that he was now world class and refused any suggestion to the contrary.

    When Froch said, via BBC Sport, that, "I took George Groves lightly...I couldn't really be bothered," Groves laughed it off as the delusions of a man who had met his match.

    Whilst both Froch and Groves offered biased retellings of the first fight, Froch was the more honest of the two, admitting, "I came through a torrid time," and that he was facing "the jaws of defeat" before the stoppage.

    To hear Groves tell it, he won eight rounds straight before Froch hit him once and the referee stopped it, unwilling to acknowledge that his opponent had turned the tide and was coming on strong.

    Before this one, the Londoner said, "If I want it to be like Hagler-Hearns, I can make it like that because I can beat Carl for hand-speed, foot-speed and I can hurt him. It doesn't matter how Carl approaches this fight, he's just not good enough."

    Groves was totally underestimating Froch, the extent to which Froch wasn't at his best last time and the extent to which he could make adjustments for the return.

    In the preview, one of the keys for Groves was not to trade with Froch on the ropes because that was where he had the most trouble last time and where Froch likes to operate.

    In Round 8, Groves, believing his hype and that he could trade fire with the Cobra, tried to counter Froch's monster right with a left hook of his own. The rest is GIFtory.

6. It Was Strangely Anticlimactic

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    It is an unusual thing to say that a fight which ended with a one-punch KO was anticlimactic because that is generally the most dramatic way a boxing match can come to a conclusion.

    With this fight, though, it felt as though the drama was building, and that we were about to have a repeat of the best action from the first fight, with both men tiring, vulnerable and trading big shots.

    Instead, one right and goodnight. 

    There's a case to be made that there were more hurtful punches landed in Round 6 last time than in the whole of the nearly eight rounds in this one.

    Certainly for the first four rounds there was very little highlight-reel worthy action and nothing decisive either way.

    It was never a bad fight because the two fighters had already won the rapt attention of onlookers thanks to the quality of the last bout—plus, it was intriguing to see how they were adjusting on the second go-around.

    Froch raised the collective heartbeat in Round 5, and then Groves drove it higher in Round 7. On this observer's card, Groves was winning Round 8, which would have brought the scores level going into the final four.

    You had the feeling that the one adjustment Groves had made was to conserve energy better this time, and he had shaken Froch for the first time in Round 7, with nothing to suggest his tank was running low.

    Therefore, things were perfectly poised with the last third of the fight emerging. But so it came to pass that Froch loaded up an enormous right hand, landed it, and in one fell swoop all the intrigue and expectation was scattered to the winds and George Groves with it.

    It was brutal, decisive and dramatic. And yet it was strangely anticlimactic all the same.

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