George Groves has won round one of his upcoming Wembley blockbuster with Carl Froch after the British Boxing Board of Contrtol reluctantly bowed to his demands for a neutral referee.
However, the appointment of veteran American official Jack Reiss has been vetoed by promoter Eddie Hearn on Froch's behalf. Hearn says they have concerns that Reiss, a former Los Angeles fire chief who was in charge of last weekend's world heavyweight title fight between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola, is "too fussy".
Another US referee will now be nominated by the International Boxing Federation, whose world super-middleweight title fight will be contested before an 80,000 capacity crowd on 31 May. New leading contender for the job is Tony Weeks, the number one referee in Las Vegas where he brilliantly handled the recent Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana fight.
Weeks, once a prison guard, would be acceptable to all parties and is a familiar face over here in the Audi boxing commercials. Groves, controversially stopped by British referee Howard Foster when clearly winning the first fight with Froch, threatened to pull out of the return unless all officials were from overseas. In addition to an American referee, the three ringside judges will be from continental Europe.
Groves, whose tenacity in pursuing a second crack at Froch has resulted in a boxing phenomenon, a £6 million Wembley gate and anticipated £20 million pay-per-view TV sales, has received another a boost from an unexpected source. James DeGale, a bitter rival from their amateur days, who detests the single-minded Londoner as much as Froch does, picks him to win.
"I can't stand the guy," he says. "He's a weirdo with all his mind games, 'everything for a reason' and all that psycho crap. He's insufferably arrogant but I think he has Froch all worked out; he has his number."
Olympic champion DeGale has a vested interest in the outcome as he will face the winner for the world title if he overcomes unbeaten American Brandon Gonzales in a final eliminator in the chief supporting bout of a bill live on Sky Box Office (skysports.com/frochgroves2 or call 08442 410888).
New minister's sporting test
Some years ago we upset arts-loving Chris (now Lord) Smith when he was head honcho at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport by suggesting that what he actually knew about sport could be written on the back of a Royal Opera House ticket.
Now we wait to assess whether his latest successor, Sajid Javid, is better acquainted with that aspect of his brief than either Smith or the little-lamented Maria Miller. At the moment sport seems to be on the back burner while the 44-year-old former international banker does his best to impress as a culture vulture, with excursions to the Royal Festival Hall, the Tate Modern's Matisse exhibition, British Museum and Globe Theatre.
Javid has yet to make his sporting debut, though doubtless the World Cup in Brazil will provide an attractive opportunity.
Just not the ticket
Glasgow 2014 boasted that their Commonwealth Games would emulate London 2012, and they certainly already have in one respect. A massive cock-up which has forced the temporary closure of their ticketing website until next Wednesday after a "technical meltdown" is an embarrassing echo of the Olympic fiasco when the same Ticketmaster operation crashed under the weight of public demand.Reuse content