The knockout proved memorable, Carl Froch’s oft-repeated line recalling both the win and the number of fans who showed up to watch it even more so.
It was nine years ago today when Carl Froch, who had beaten British rival George Groves via controversial stoppage earlier that year, fought Groves a second time. The rematch, a truly fan-demanded fight, had everyone talking. Was Froch, who was decked heavily in the opening round by Groves in fight-one, this before rallying to get the controversial/premature stoppage victory in round nine, past his best? Had Groves, who did such a great job of getting firmly under Froch’s skin in the build-up to the fight, been robbed of a win he would have gone on to score?
What would happen in the rematch that would once again contest Froch’s WBA and IBF super-middleweight titles?
Froch, aged 36 to Groves’ 26, had had a long career, with “The Cobra” having been in some tough fights. At 32-2(23) to Groves’ 19-1(15) Froch clearly had more miles on the clock. The return fight drew a massive crowd at Wembley, as Froch would go on to proudly (and somewhat comically) remind people of numerous times in the years ahead.
This time, there were no early fireworks, the two bitter rivals showing one another plenty of respect, the action cagey yet also intense. The action heated up in round five, with both men trading, this thrilling the enormous crowd. In round seven, Groves appeared to stun Froch, this with a left hook and then a right hand to the head. It was so close on the cards, and in the opinion of the fans as well as the experts who were following the action. Officially after seven, Froch led by a point on two cards, while Groves led by three points on the third card.
Then, in dramatic fashion, Froch ended the fight in round eight. Backing his tormentor up, Froch had Groves where he wanted him on the ropes. And then a huge right hand, that had followed a partially blocked Froch left hand, detonated on Groves’ chin and down he went. There was no controversy this time, the referee waving the fight off without a count.
Froch had removed a thorn that had temporarily resided in his side. “The Cobra” was tempted but he never fought again. It was a perfect way to go out. Groves battled on of course, with him finally becoming a world champ at the fourth time of asking, this when Groves stopped Fedor Chudinov to win the vacant WBA belt.
Perhaps the biggest surprise to come after Froch and Groves had settled their business was the fact that the two became good mates. Froch and Groves between them gave British boxing one of its most genuine, tense, at times nasty rivalries. And the second fight, let it never be forgotten, played out in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley!