By Jake Donovan
One week after Andre Ward reminded boxing fans, media and critics alike why he is regarded as among the best two fighters on the planet, Carl Froch is given the chance that he still remains number two with a bullet in the super middleweight division.
The brash Brit looks to pick up his fourth straight post-Super Six victory on Saturday evening. His next defense of his unified belts comes against an unbeaten challenger more than 10 years his junior in George Groves. The bout headlines at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester, England, airing live on Sky Sports in the UK and on Wealth TV in the United States (Saturday, 3:00PM ET).
Froch (31-2, 22KO) has become a cult hero thanks to his no-nonsense style and willingness to not take on the toughest challenges, but ran after them full steam ahead. His first performance following his loss to Ward in the Super Six finals was a five-round demolition of then-unbeaten Lucian Bute last May, a performance that took Froch’s career to new heights.
Still, atoning for past setbacks continues to serve as the 36-year old’s modus operandi. His lone ring appearance in 2013 prior to tonight saw one of two career losses avenged, as Froch prevailed in his thrilling rematch with Mikkel Kessler this past May. The 12-round decision evened the score with the Dane, who claimed victory in their April ’10 clash in Denmark.
While Froch boasts a resume that is second to none, the jury is still out on his challenger.
Groves (19-0, 15KO) saw his stock rise in a well-earned narrow points win over domestic rival James ‘Chunky’ DeGale in a May ’11 matchup of unbeaten British prospects. The win was followed by an eye-opening 2nd round knockout over Paul Smith (who previously went nine rounds with DeGale) and a landslide decision win over an aged Glen Johnson one year later.
Expecting his career to take off in 2013, Groves was instead placed on a treadmill. A switch in promoters led to an early stretch of activity, though his three fights in the span of less than three months came against meager competition. His last ring appearance came on the undercard of Froch’s rematch win over Kessler, paving the way for their head-on collision tonight.
Will youth be served and a changing of the guard take place in the UK? Or will the experienced veteran leave his novice challenger in the dust while further in pursuit of revenge, and ultimately boxing immortality?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes tonight’s super middleweight title fight goes down.
PREDICTIONS – CARL FROCH vs. GEORGE GROVES
"I like Groves and think he has great potential but this is a huge step up. I would have liked to have seen him have 3-4 more fights before this fight. I think the moment will be too big for him and Froch will shine."
- Ryan Burton (Froch TKO8)
"I’d greater like Groves’ chances if he hadn’t been spoonfed a Gerber’s diet of tissue-soft competition since signing with Matchroom Sport earlier this year. Froch is arrogant, but never to the point of overlooking any challenge. Groves goes out on his shield, but his pasty white skin dripping in crimson as a cuts stoppage is forced midway through.”
- Jake Donovan (Froch TKO7)
"Groves comes in as the younger and bigger man in possession of plenty of momentum, but Froch has elevated to another level since the Ward loss and won’t fall here."
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Froch UD)
"A little rusty, a little slower, but still enough to get by the eager Groves. There will be times where we'll wonder if Froch has seen better days but once he gets his wheels under him I feel he cruises in the latter part."
- Ernest Gabion (Froch UD)
"This isn't time for a crossroads bout. Froch remains the second best super middleweight in the world, and he'll prove too much for his younger challenger."
- David P. Greisman (Froch by TKO)
"Froch will simply be too much for the young Groves. Groves will find some success early but Froch will break him down. I expect Groves to rise of the floor once or twice but he will eventually stay down."
- Timothy Kudgis (Froch KO9)
“I think George Groves will be a worthy challenger to a beltholder one day; I'm just not sure Saturday is his time. I like Carl Froch's awkward style and superior power to take control late in the bout as he captures a competitive but clear decision over a game Groves."
- Ryan Maquiñana (Froch UD)
"This could be a really good fight. Froch has asked as much of himself in terms of opposition as anyone in the game and mostly won. Groves is largely untested but young and with excellent fundamentals. The experience of the veteran should snare the close rounds but if Froch is beginning to slip at all, Groves will be ready to pounce."
- Cliff Rold (Froch UD)
"Groves would have been well advised to fight other champs - say, Robert Stieglitz (whom he surpasses in intensity) or Sakio Bika (whose power is less than of the Saint George). He has chosen a hard way to his first loss. He won't get to its end. Froch may lose a couple of rounds early on, maybe he will be put down for a moment. Then he will get up and methodically break his talented but inexperienced opponent, finally making a bloody mess of his face, shaking him badly and, finally, stopping him on his feet well before the final bell."
- Alexey Sukachev (Froch TKO9)
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox