Boxing: Carl Froch last man standing in a battle of brutal brilliance against George Groves

Controversy after referee stops Groves to end one of best bouts ever

Boxing Correspondent

It was not a fix, there is no conspiracy and there is unlikely to be a sequel any time soon to Carl Froch’s stoppage of George Groves in round nine on Saturday night in Manchester.

The referee, Howard Foster, jumped in, nearly tumbled over and grabbed Groves at 1min 33sec of the ninth after he had been caught and trapped on the ropes in a fight he appeared to be winning by a long, long way. However, when the redundant calculations of the judges were revealed, two out of the three had Groves in front by just one slender point; the third agreed with me and had it by five points. The difference in the schools is far more disturbing than the hysteria surrounding Foster’s intervention, which was perhaps a few seconds too soon, just bringing forward the inevitable at that moment.

Groves complained bitterly and the capacity crowd of just fewer than 20,000 booed for 10 minutes in disgust at the intervention. The same fans had jeered and booed Groves as he made his way through a tunnel of hate to the ring 30 minutes earlier and it was a shift of allegiance that in 40 years inside the boxing business I have never witnessed; there was, make no mistake, genuine outrage inside the arena and the ugly confrontations in the ring when it was over, between the ridiculously swollen rival entourages, only added to the sense of utter chaos at the end of a memorable night.

The fight was simply one of the finest seen in a British ring and easily matched for ferocity, quality and thrills any of the fights involving Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Michael Watson and Steve Collins two decades ago; the quartet took part in nine fights against each other that have inspired a generation of nostalgic fanatics for so long: this fight belongs in that company.

Froch was sent heavily to the canvas late in the opening round from a right hand and, regaining his feet, just survived until the bell. Froch fought on instinct round after round, taking sharp rights that shook and clearly hurt him, and trying but missing with many of his desperate punches. It was brutal to watch and the sour build-up of unpleasant boasts that they had each exchanged only added to the pleasure of being just 10 feet away from the fighters.

“For a few rounds it looked like Carl Froch’s career was over,” admitted Eddie Hearn, Froch’s promoter. “He took a hiding in there at times and I just had no idea at one point how he was going to turn it round.”

Froch admitted to forgetting he had been knocked down and that is not a surprise considering the punishment he took. It was Froch’s 11th consecutive world title fight and his IBF and WBA baubles glittered like cheap trophies for such deep sacrifice.

The sixth round was sensational, with the pair locked close and throwing punches in a relentless, swaying rhythm of power, their knees separated by inches as Groves connected with punch after punch. It was breathtaking stuff, damaging stuff and Foster was poised with his eyes on Froch at one point. It was one of several moments when Froch was a punch or two away from being rescued from his desire; it was an act that looked closer on Saturday night than at any point in his boxing life. He could, I think, still opt for retirement and it would not be a shock.

“I’m a victim of my false reputation for being chinny,” Groves said, “and of Carl’s reputation for being a warrior. I was fine at the end.” It needs to be remembered that a referee has to make decisions in a flash, using his experience, and Foster’s lunge to save Groves was influenced by a lifetime in boxing and nothing sinister.

It was still a heartbreaking end to a heroic fight from Groves and it was also the type of salvation for Froch that only true champions are capable of finding at the end of brutal, life-changing encounters. It was not a fix; it was just three men in the ring getting lost in a conflict that was so raw that a rematch could be a fight too far for either boxer.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power