Steve Bunce on Boxing: Carl Froch lands a devastating blow for age and dignity against George Groves

‘The best punch I have ever thrown’ confirms the champion’s titles and sets up a Vegas dream

Carl Froch delivered dignity in the ring on Saturday night during a festival of boxing inside a stadium transformed by camera lights into a swaying distant galaxy.

The sudden punch that sent George Groves down to the canvas in one dreadful motion, leaving his left boot somehow tucked under his back, was a celebration of all that is extreme in the boxing business during a night of extremes.

It was over after 2min 34sec of round eight with Groves inert for several seconds of panic as the referee, virtually a spectator until that point, straddled the stricken fighter to start the recovery process. The twisted left leg shot free and with a sudden gasp Groves started to climb up – it was a relief. “I was on the floor longer than I realised,” Groves said; he had no idea he was unconscious before he hit the canvas.

Froch retained his IBF and WBA super-middleweight titles but if ever there was a fight that made the gaudy baubles an irrelevance then it was Saturday’s rematch. There was too much hostility in the months, days and hours before Michael Buffer started the real fight. Thankfully, the ending left no room for any trivial continuation of the squabbling.

Groves looked broken as he held back tears and genuinely embraced Froch once it was over. “I was too complacent,” Groves said and he was right; self-confidence was his downfall and his failure to realise that Froch, a veteran of too many savage nights in the ring, was walking him down and positioning him for the end also showed naïvety. Froch and Robert McCracken, his trainer and close friend, had worked on backing Groves up, not wasting punches and using intelligence against some of the natural advantages Groves delivers.

“George is fast, he can punch but he was overconfident and that put him under pressure,” said Froch. It perfectly sums up all that went wrong for Groves and knowing that he was conned before being knocked out will only add to the misery.

Froch measured the final right cross perfectly and, after a little tap with his left, to move Groves into the right spot, he delivered one of the sweetest single-punch knockouts seen in a British ring.

The fight was beautifully poised at the moment of impact but it had been far more a chess match than a repeat of last November’s memorable slugfest. Not everybody in the crowd of 80,000 enjoyed the thinking that was taking place in the ring and people booed the slower moments, unaware of the hidden dramas.

Froch had prepared for the end of his career during the last 12 weeks in a training camp of such solemnity that observers left slightly shaken by his conviction. Froch, in jubilation at the end, admitted that he would have quit had he lost and that is exactly how he fought from the opening bell: he was a desperate man and it shocked Groves.

“I slowly closed the gap,” said Froch. “I could hear the boos but I was not going to force it, not going to take any risks. I was getting closer and then it landed; it was the best punch that I have ever thrown.” He simply eliminated the mistakes that had made the first fight such a great spectacle and that meant being far more cautious. Saturday was a bigger event, that is for sure.

The rematch in 1993 between Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn in front of 42,000 at Old Trafford followed a similar pattern to the way Saturday’s historic fight unfolded; both Eubank and Benn were unwilling to repeat the physical excesses of their original fight. The numbers at the 1993 fight were surpassed by Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton during the last decade, but Wembley on Saturday set a new modern record, a mere 10,000 fewer than a series of fights in the 1930s.

Froch insists that he will fight again after a break and his standard talk with McCracken, which is a rare moment for the pair to relax and reflect on nights that unfold in a blur. The options include a trip to Las Vegas to fight the pandered but still impressive Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr. It would satisfy Froch’s childhood dreams of filling a Vegas venue in a world championship fight. “I can deliver the Chavez fight,” confirmed Froch’s promoter, Eddie Hearn. “It’s Carl’s decision and he will not make that decision without Rob McCracken. They will decide.”

Groves, at 26, has vowed to return, win a world title and reign as long as Froch, which is possible. He would push the WBC champion Sakio Bika and, having just agreed terms with German promoters Sauerland, he could in theory fight the WBO incumbent Arthur Abraham, another Sauerland fighter. “I got it wrong for just a split second,’” claimed Groves. At the time of the stoppage I had Groves 4-3 in front but running short of ideas and escape routes in the tiny ring; one of the three judges agreed with me.

Froch has an appointment to accept or reject closer to home after James DeGale, beaten by Groves in 2011, won a final eliminator for the IBF portion of his championship jewellery. DeGale advanced to Froch’s leading contender with a piece of whimsical modern matchmaking that still looks unlikely to secure the 2008 Olympic champion a fight against Froch. However, had Groves won, a rematch with DeGale would have done incredible business. DeGale, who would be a nightmare for Froch, looked very impressive at Wembley as he walked through previously unbeaten Brandon Gonzalez in four rounds.

Froch left the ring with very few visible blemishes, but he is not foolish enough to be tricked by mirrors that flatter. He is a brilliant old fighter and, a Las Vegas dream aside, he has nothing left to prove in the ring that he has dominated. He also has few natural rivals and is unlikely to fight Andre Ward, who beat him easily in 2011, so that means that revenge is not an emotion likely to motivate him.

That leaves money and boxers in good health walk away from the sport because of money for two very different reasons: some are offered too little to continue and some have too much to want to fight again. If Froch does walk away now it will be because of a combination of both.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us