A furious Carl Froch has launched a savage attack on two fellow British boxers, labelling Nathan Cleverly and George Groves "traitors" for helping his Danish opponent Mikkel Kessler prepare for next Saturday's world super-middleweight title unification bout.
Cleverly, the WBO light-heavyweight champion, and world super-middleweight contender Groves, one of his own stablemates who fights on the same bill at London's O2, have spent the past three weeks assisting Kessler as principal sparmates in Copenhagen, much to Froch's disgust.
"It just sums up what they are," he says. "I'm a British fighter but they'd rather go out there and help a foreign fighter prepare for the biggest fight of my career. It just shows the state of British boxing in terms of people working with each other.
"Groves isn't my friend and neither is Cleverly, so they can do what they want, but really, as British fighters, shouldn't they have a bit more class about them?
"They both want to fight me but are bitter and jealous because it's not happening as I'm a league above the pair of them. It's not going to help Kessler in preparation for me as neither of them can mimic my style or have my resolve.
"I certainly wouldn't help a foreign fighter prepare for a British fighter and I've not spoken to anybody who would. Adam Booth [Groves's trainer] is supposed to be a friend but he obviously has done what he thought was right for George Groves with no consideration for Carl Froch. "But Groves has got a chip on his shoulder anyway. He won't spar with me because he considers himself a potential opponent, though he is the only one that does. Nobody is going to take him seriously until he has had a couple of fights with decent people and stops getting knocked out in sparring, which seems to be happening quite regularly."
The senior pro among Britain's current quartet of world champions, The Cobra's verbal venom has never endeared him to many in the fight fraternity. University-educated, he says: "I worked my nuts off" for the fame that has come slowly to him.
Despite Froch's outburst, the finely matched talents of Nottingham's abrasive IBF champion and the WBA belt-holder Kessler had made the usual pre-fight hype and bad-mouthing redundant. It is a contest that sold itself; all 20,000 seats were snapped up within a couple of hours, enticing Sky back to pay-per-view.
"People have been upset in the past about pay-per-view fights because they got sold a lie or an illusion that was not real," says Froch. "But this time there was no need for anyone rolling around on the floor or slapping each other in the face. This is between two blokes whose respect for each other is there for everyone to see."
The recent virtuoso performances of Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Wladimir Klitschko will be hard acts to follow, but the impending return dogfight between this pair of pedigree chums, friends as well as foes, is surely destined to be equally memorable. "Potentially this could be another Hagler-Hearns," adds Froch. "The fans will look back in years to come and think it was one of the all-time classics.
Kessler, the pugilistic prince of Denmark, clearly outscored Froch in Herning three years ago but has fought only three times since.
Joe Calzaghe, who inflicted one of Kessler's only two defeats, suggests this relative inactivity could be crucial. "Froch has the momentum," says the Welshman. "All the cards seem to be in his favour but I still think it will be a war." A bloody and brutal one at that.
After a defeat by the WBC champion, Andre Ward, Froch's clinical destruction of the hitherto unbeaten Lucian Bute to claim the IBF title was a chilling indication of his renewed resolution.
"I'm going to do a number on Kessler," he vows. "Everyone is going to be shocked. I can't see him going past eight or nine rounds."
Even though at 35 he is a year older than Kessler, Froch seems to have the greater hunger and lingering ambition, as well as invaluable home advantage, all of which is now driven by the burning desire to stick it on the fellow Brits he believes have betrayed him.
Froch v Kessler is live on Sky Sports HD Box Office on Saturday. Visit skysports.com/froch or call 08442 410888 for booking informationReuse content