By Frank Warren
Britain’s fabulous record in the 168lb super-middleweight division seems destined to enjoy several future chapters given the strength of George Groves’ brilliant challenge to IBF and WBA champion Carl Froch last weekend.
Since inauguration in 1984, these isles have already delivered eight world champions at 12 stone and the ‘Saint’ from Hammersmith could become the ninth.
Despite his premature eviction in round nine of a fabulous and truly torrid battle, the 25 year old proved he has the technique, temperament and firepower to flourish on the highest stage.
Froch has a well-earned rep as an iron man but Groves dropped him like a stone with a savage right hand bazooka in the opening session.
Thereafter, he bamboozled the Nottingham veteran with a series of calculated guerrilla raids to clock up what seemed an unassailable lead after eight rounds. Full credit to both George and new trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick for getting their tactics spot on. Their tactics again demonstrated how easily Froch can be hit.
However, ‘The Cobra’, now 36, re-iterated just what a hardy 12 round championship level brute he is by detonating the bombs that turned the fight and prompted referee Howard Foster’s controversial intervention halfway through round nine.
The spirit with which Groves resisted suggested his withdrawal might indeed have been a bit premature.
I fully empathise with those who purchased tickets or pay-per-view who felt they were robbed from seeing the fight reach its natural conclusion, either with Froch who was denied the chance of executing a spectacular knockout, or with Groves who was prevented the chance to rally.
Foster is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s premier officials and his eyes were closest to the action, but for me and I know the boxers safety and welfare always comes first, George should have been given the chance to carry on.
Far more disturbing, for me, was the scorecards of two judges who would’ve had the fight even, had Groves not registered the knockdown.
The Londoner had delivered a clinic on how to beat Froch and was at least three rounds clear on my card.
Where were the punch stats on the night? Not that they were needed but for some reason Sky didn’t show them.
Saturday again confirmed, as I’ve stated many times previously, that Froch would not have been remotely competitive against Joe Calzaghe, at any stage of JC’s 11 year world title reign.
‘The Cobra’ hates me broadcasting it but twice I met him and offered a substantial purse to challenge the Welshman – and twice Froch knocked the fight back.
Good job, too. He is far, far too easy to hit and an absolute sucker for a skilled southpaw who could box, punch and hold a shot as well as Calzaghe could.
For all his toughness and bravery, Froch was again exposed. He is an entertaining, brave, tough and good World Champion, as opposed to being a true great.
St George did what he said he would do, commanding the fight from the first bell. Froch has seen better days and should hang up his gloves soon. As for Groves he came out of the fight, as acknowledged by most of the crowd, a winner.
Scouser Tony Bellew gets a golden chance to add some substance to his sound bites when he makes a mandatory challenge for the WBC light-heavyweight title against Adonis Stevenson in Quebec, Canada this evening.
The former British and Commonwealth champion is six years younger, almost four inches taller and has a nine inch sway in reach. He’s been a pro for over six years now has had ample notice and, at 30, is right in his fighting prime. Time to deliver.
Before each fight, the self-styled ‘Bomber’ brags how he’ll knock every pending opponent ‘spark out’. However, he’s largely failed to deliver on his chat at top flight.
At Commonwealth title level, both Ovill McKenzie and Bob Ajisafe had him crawling on the canvas and he needed two cracks before squeezing past Isaac Chilemba – from that fistic hotbed of Malawi – in his WBC eliminator.
In a prior world title tilt to then WBO king Nathan Cleverly in October 2011, Bellew came up short, despite the privilege of fighting before his home crowd at The Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Defending champion Stevenson is an iron gloved protégé of the late, great Detroit trainer Emanuel Steward.
The only blot on the copy book of the 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medallist, ‘Superman’ Stevenson was being inexplicably stopped by a non-descript US journeyman three and a half years ago but has since resurrected his career with nine straight stoppages. He lifted his world title with a vicious one round mugging of Connecticut’s very capable ‘Bad Chad’ Dawson in June and has already retained with an equally dominant seven round retirement win over ex IBF king Tavoris Cloud in late September.
At odds of 4-1 against, the bookies clearly don’t accord Bellew much hope of delivering on his boasts and I’m not betting against them.
With Vitali Klitschko now 42 and dormant for 14 months, and younger sibling Wladimir well into his 38th year, it shouldn’t be too long before a new era dawns in the heavyweight division.
Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev, Canada’s Bermane Stiverne, US kayo specialist Deontay Wilder and our own Tyson Fury are all scrambling for position should a belt become vacant. However, don’t discount Dereck Chisora from staking a claim.
The slim line, rejuvenated ‘Del Boy’ is presently in the best form of his career. In July he stopped Philadelphia’s Malik Scott (previously unbeaten in 36) in round six then, eight weeks later, he clattered tough German Edmund Gerber in five to bag the vacant European crown at the Copper Box Arena.
Tonight he’s back at ‘The Box That Rocks’ to defend against rough Ondrej Pala of the Czech Republic and it’s crucial that the Finchley man maintains his momentum.
Still only 29, Chisora is mightily impressive at full steam. I’m tipping him to pummel his way to another stoppage and secure a blockbuster fight in the first quarter of 2014. BoxNation televise live.
It was a mixed week for Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao.
Last Saturday in Macau, the 34 year old six weight world champion resurrected his ring career with a sizzling display to bewilder tough Yank Brandon Rios over 12 rounds.
Some say the manner of the victory means Pacman can again be considered a legitimate 2014 foe for Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. It’s a fight that may still shatter all box office records.
However, despite trousering a reported $18million last weekend, the Philippines Bureau of Inland Revenue has ‘frozen’ all of the congressman’s assets, citing unpaid taxes.
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