SAN DIEGO, May 30, 2014 – It’s a big fight on a big stage, fitting for the big stakes faced by super middleweight British boxers Carl Froch and George Groves in their rematch on Saturday in London.
An enthusiastic crowd of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium will smash all post-war British boxing attendance records, a venue more accustomed to soccer than boxing. Expect a noise level commensurate with soccer, too. The fight will be aired live in the U.S. on HBO at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m ET. Tea time on the East Coast, or happy hour if you prefer.
Whatever your beverage of choice, get it ready and don’t miss this match-up. It has all the elements boxing fans love: two evenly matched, skilled athletes who have something to prove and significant, legitimate tensions between them and their camps.
In their previous meeting in November, the challenger Groves put on a strong performance and was winning on most scorecards against the favored champion Froch. He declared he would drop Froch with a right hand early, and he did, knocking Froch down in the first round. Froch recovered and the fight was roaring along when Froch returned the favor in the ninth round, knocking down Groves. But referee Howard Foster saw fit to stop the fight. Groves and his supporters were outraged; some said the fix must have been in to preserve Froch’s titles. The controversy set up this rematch.
When promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport announced the venue, no one thought it would be a sellout. Fight fans in the UK proved him right, snapping up 60,000 tickets in just 75 minutes. Another 20,000 were added including 10,000 on Wembley’s field (or “the pitch” as British fans know it), and the stadium will have to be converted in 17 hours after the conclusion of a soccer game. A practice run by stadium crews went off without a hitch in March.
The fight isn’t expected to be easy for either boxer. Froch (34-2, 23 KOs), 36, admits he took Groves a bit lightly the first time, accounting for the surprising knockdown. Groves (20-1, 15 KOs), the 26-year-old upstart, said it was no fluke, and if the fight hadn’t been stopped too soon he would have beaten Froch.
Froch and Groves have both done a good job getting under each other’s skin before the fight, with their fans egging them on. Froch thinks he deserves Groves’ respect as the champion. Froch told Britain’s Sky Sports Groves has been “dining out on his round one knockout” and that he won’t let it happen again.
Groves says he’s confident, not cocky, and thinks Froch is past his prime. The pair got into a shoving match at a media photo shoot at Wembley several months ago.
It will be a bout pitting the speed and movement of Groves against the tough brawling tactics of Froch. Groves needs to come out quickly before Froch gets warmed up and stakes his claim. Froch threw more punches in their first bout, but Groves landed a higher percentage of his punches, including more power punches (42 percent to Froch’s 35 percent).
Froch will be more prepared and more dangerous in the rematch if he truly underestimated Groves the first time as he claims. Although he won on paper, Froch is well aware many fans feel Groves was robbed in the first fight.
Groves will get the biggest opportunity of his career. If stress gets to him, he may not perform as well as he hopes. The tension of the big stage will be a factor neither boxer can truly prepare for.
Will youth be served? Or will the tough-minded champion prevail? It will be a close, entertaining contest. When it’s a matter of speed versus strength, speed always has the upper hand. If Groves can land shots against Froch like he did in the first bout, he’ll get his win this time. And we’ll get Froch vs. Groves 3.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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