It took about 90 minutes yesterday to sell 60,000 tickets for the rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves at Wembley on 31 May.
Eddie Hearn, the promoter of the Froch fight, will meet with Transport for London and talk about putting on extra transportation and hopefully another 20,000 will then go on sale. If that happens and they all sell it will be a record British gate of about £5 million. The fight will be on Sky pay-per-view and that will, if sales exceed one million, add a further £20m to the kitty. It will be the most lucrative fight to ever take place in Britain.
The pair came together yesterday during a particularly fractious press conference that turned ugly when they posed on the Wembley pitch and ended with Froch pushing Groves away. It was not a friendly nudge. Groves remained upright after a stilted stagger and immediately turned to Hearn and said: “Eddie, sort your boy.” The hate on both of their faces was astonishing at that moment.
Froch won their first fight last November in round nine but there was some controversy concerning the timing of the stoppage by the British referee Howard Foster. Groves has called for a neutral – non-British – referee this time and Hearn has backed him and will speak to the British Boxing Board of Control.
It was quite disturbing yesterday to see the pair come so close and appear to still have absolutely no respect for each other. Groves revealed in the highly confrontational days after the first fight that Froch had initially refused to shake his hand in the ring on the night. They did eventually shake but hostilities have remained alarmingly high.
It looks and sounds like Froch, who told me that he didn’t prepare mentally for Groves last time, has no interest in a repeat of any of the name calling and mind- games of the last fight, when the pair both came close to censor for some of their personal insults. “This time I’m going to just worry about me,” said a focused yet agitated Froch. “No games this time, just me getting ready for a fight and I will be a different man this time.”
Froch, by the way, has taken to calling Groves “Mr Idiot Boy”, which has a funny ring to it; they both claim to be joking and in control but yesterday it all seemed a bit too raw for it to be a series of acts.
Groves, meanwhile, insists that this time he will finish Froch off before the final bell. He blames the referee for an early stoppage in a fight he was winning on all three scorecards after dropping Froch heavily in the opening round. Yet it had been tight for over a round before the end and from 10 feet away at my privileged spot at ringside it looked like Groves was tired. “Carl has nothing left, look at him. He has nothing left,” said Groves yesterday.
Perhaps Groves has a point because during the last six years Froch has been in 11 consecutive world title fights and only one has been easy. Froch has seemingly been lost in deep holes and has done what champions do and found a way to win. He did it last November and he claims he will do it this May. It is a good debate, it was a great fight last time and this time 80,000 will sit in judgement.
Last Saturday in Las Vegas it took 10 minutes for 12,000 tickets valued at $12m (£7.2m) to sell for the Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana fight on 3 May. The cheapest tickets are $300 (£180) compared to £30 for the Froch fight, which helps explain the difference in revenue.
Mayweather’s pay-per-view will cost in excess of $70 and little Floyd will pay himself about $40m. May will be a big month in the fisticuffs business.