THE BLOG
27/11/2013 10:54 GMT | Updated 26/01/2014 05:59 GMT

Froch v Groves - No Empty Words

My interest in boxing has been re-ignited in the last 3 or 4 years due in no small part to Carl Froch.

His fight against George Groves was billed as a true British Superfight to rival those of the 1990s during the golden era of Benn, Eubank, Watson and Collins, and though I guess that might have been slightly ambitious, anyone who witnessed the fight on Saturday will testify to the fact it was one of the most exciting and thrilling British fights ever.

The pre-fight hostility between the pair was not just about selling pay-per-view tickets - the ill-feeling between the two was then and remains now, entirely genuine. In fact, given that both fighters probably feel short changed, those feelings have probably intensified.

I'm a big fan of Froch but you have to hand it to Groves because he was outstanding for the vast majority of the 25 mins before the fight's premature end. His power, speed, accuracy and single minded relentlessness combined to shock Froch from the first bell. The right that floored Froch in round one was vicious, and it shook Froch to the very depths of his boots. I don't think anyone, maybe even Groves himself, could have envisaged that he'd produce such an impressive performance against a seasoned world champion.

The vicious right that floored him and the combination of power packed punches that Groves nailed Froch with time and again had the champion in desperate trouble. Froch is 36 and undoubtedly in decline in terms of his speed and movement, but because of the punishment he took in there those factors were exposed as has since been commented on by many fight fans. My view on that is that even Carl Froch cannot withstand that kind of punishment without losing focus, intensity and confidence, and he was made to look slower than normal as a result.

Boxing News has a great piece that highlights Groves' dominance in the fight, taking 46 press scorecards, all of which had Groves ahead, and calculating that the average card had Groves 5 rounds ahead with 5 to go. I can't argue with that and won't bother as I think it's about right - by taking 46 views into consideration, you're likely to get a pretty good reflection of what really happened.

So the stoppage in the 9th after Groves looked in trouble for the first time in the fight looked premature given his dominance to that point, and it's perhaps understandable why Saint George feels like he was robbed.

But Froch too has reason to feel unhappy with Howard Foster's decision to step in when he did.

The general consensus pre-fight was that Froch is a slow starter and Groves' speed might cause him problems early on, but that if he was still around after 6 or 7 rounds, he would start to dominate the fight. You only need to watch Froch's late, late show against Jermain Taylor to realise that Froch has been hurt before, been a long way behind but come back to win against truly world class opposition. Groves hurt Froch more than Taylor and may in time be a better fighter than the former world champion, but that evidence proves Froch was not in completely unchartered territory.

Froch's timing was poor, but I think there's very good reason for that as I said earlier. Regardless, his style is straightforward - stick around and soak it up until your opponent presents you with opportunities to let your hands go. From about round 6 onwards, a shift in power gradually occurred as Froch built up momentum. Groves looked like he was starting to empty, and when Froch started to unload, the shots started to hurt Groves and back him up unlike in the earlier rounds when Froch's punches were not moving Groves and he seemed unphased by them.

Groves looked more durable than I expected him to be but I am convinced that Froch would have had him down and out of there at some stage between rounds 10 and 12. His durability and stamina in fights is like nothing I've ever seen, and I think it would have been too much for Groves.

So Froch can also claim to be the one who was short changed by the decision to stop Groves in the 9th.

How Froch found the strength from within to keep walking through Groves' vicious but brilliant onslaught I'll never know, and he showed the qualities that have made the British public take him to their hearts. Not the most gifted technically, his stand and deliver style makes for great viewing. Unfortunately, the public now appear split down the middle as Groves won over so many with his brilliance and because it appeared, at first glance at least, like he was desperately unlucky on the night when everything conspired against him. That must annoy Froch, and I think his legacy may have been irrepairably damaged despite the fact he did nothing wrong.

As for the verbal sparring, I think you've got to take it all with a pinch of salt - they both have lack perspective and a little humility. Froch can come across a bit arrogant and I think he shuns the softer side the Matchroom PR machine would probably like him to have, but I like the fact he does it his way and won't compromise his values or feelings. Groves had to get under Froch's skin and he did it exceptionally well. He now has to do the same if he wants to get Froch back in the ring.

On Saturday's evidence, I think Groves can trouble Andre Ward more than Froch did, become a World Champion, though probably not by beating Ward, and rank in the top 10 pound for pound fighters in the world. He should only get better from here.

I fear for Froch's health and I would applaud him if he chose to retire now - the toughest man around he may be but you can't walk through punches for ever and his speed or pugilistic skills are not going to improve from here. But he's a warrior and a proud man, and if he decides to go again it can only be for a rematch with Groves. The public wants to see it, and the payday for all parties would be massive.

Regardless, here is a huge sense of unfinished business about this contest, and the war of words will go on for some time yet.