By Ryan Maquiñana
David Haye and Amir Khan were not in accord with referee Howard Foster’s controversial decision to prevent George Groves from continuing in the ninth round of his super middleweight title fight against Carl Froch on Saturday.
The two British boxing stars, who were sitting in the Sky Sports broadcast booth at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester, England, strongly believed Foster stopped the clash prematurely.
“The referee grabbed George in a headlock and allowed Carl to him in the ribs,” Haye said. “This isn’t the WWE here. This is world-class boxing.”
Khan, an Olympic silver medalist and former junior welterweight beltholder, agreed with Haye’s sentiment.
“For a fighter to get this far and for (the bout) to be stopped like this … you want a clear winner,” Khan said. “Groves was still on his feet in my opinion. … The referee was always favoring Carl.”
Haye elaborated on his position, while alleviating any blame on Froch’s part.
“My problem with the stoppage is this. If the referee let the fight go on … and then it was stopped, no one would have complained,” the former heavyweight titleholder said. “But people shouldn’t give Carl Froch any ‘stick.’ It wasn’t his decision to stop the fight.”
Haye even revealed that Froch’s pre-fight prediction ended up ringing true.
“If (Froch) won that round, the fight would have been even,” Haye said. “… He was in a world of trouble, (and) he was losing rounds, but he knew at some stage he was going to catch him. (Froch) told me this before the fight. He said, ‘As soon I start landing flush, the fight is over.’”
Meanwhile, British Boxing Board of Control general secretary Robert Smith defended Foster.
“Howard Foster is a world-class referee, a world-class official, and I don’t have a problem with the stoppage,” Smith said. “… He's done his job. We'll speak to him next week maybe. Everyone is on high emotions right now.
Smith then broke down the stoppage as he watched the replay.
“You can argue, ‘Should (Groves) take another shot?’ I'd rather he take one shot less than one shot too many,” Smith said.
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine's Ratings Panel. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net or follow him on Twitter @RMaq28.