By Terence Dooley
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom has told Sky Sports News that he is working tirelessly to secure a rematch between WBA and IBF Super middleweight titlist Carl Froch, 32-2 (23), and London's George Groves, 19-1 (15), who lost by ninth-round stoppage when the two met at Manchester's Phones 4U Arena in November. Referee Howard Foster's decision to stop a fight that had seen Groves floor Froch in the first and box brilliantly until the midway point, at which point Froch started to make an impression, incensed the viewing public and led to an outcry for an immediate return.
Froch has options, he has spoken openly about a potential Las Vegas meeting with Julio Cesar Chavez Junior, and the Nottingham-based champion also told Sky Sports that Hearn, his promoter, is engaged in key negotiations ahead of his next move.
Indeed, Hearn has revealed that the road to Froch-Groves II has had more plot twists than a soap opera. Earlier today, the IBF confirmed to BoxingScene that they have ordered a return bout and are going to release a statement about the situation.
"There's more twists and turns here than Eastenders," said Hearn when speaking to Sky. "Carl's up for any fight, and the Groves one is obviously something that's taken priority. The IBF has called a rematch, there's twist and turns every hour in this story and the fight just keeps going. I think the fight was stopped too early, Groves was in trouble and would have liked the opportunity to ride it out — I'm not sure whether he would of, but these are questions that people would like the answer to and that is what makes it such a huge fight."
He added: "We made him an offer yesterday that was rejected, and will continue to talk to him tomorrow and over the weekend to try to get the fight made."
Froch has released a statement in which he claims that Groves turned down a "seven figure" offer. Hearn revealed that the IBF's decision could mean that "Saint" George may have to settle for less money as he was ranked at number six in their December ratings.
"Carl will happily fight George Groves, but it's a career and the business end has to be right for both of them," said Hearn. "The IBF have made a ruling for the rematch. Unfortunately that goes out, on the business end, as an 85-15 split under their rules [Writer's note: Rue 10.E of their championship rules states that the 85-15 split applies in case in which the challenger is rated at '#3 or below']. I guess it changes the dynamics a little bit, but ultimately both guys have their numbers that they want to achieve and it's perhaps my job to get them into a room to iron it out.
"I've spoken to both of them, probably twice, it's been a busy day in that respect. I know Carl wants the fight because he really can't stand George, and I know George wants the fight because he wants to rectify the result. It's frustrating when I feel everyone wants it, none more so than the public, yet we're so close yet so far, so hopefully we can iron it out and put a deal together that they both agree to."
As for the Chavez fight, it is a viable option, but Hearn believes that rematch with Groves would send the British fans into a frenzy. He said: "As big as the Chavez fight is in Vegas, me, as a British boxing fan, wants to see Froch-Groves two."
"The IBF have installed me as mandatory with a view to an immediate rematch," said Groves during a telephone call with Sky News. Groves also revealed that future fight options, rather than money, is the sticking point and that he is prepared to go through the IBF's process in a bid to maintain his autonomy.
The full IBF statement:
'Springfield, NJ – 1/24/14 - On Wednesday, January 15, 2014, an IBF Appeal Panel convened to hear the appeal of George Groves regarding his November 23, 2013, bout with Carl Froch. This bout was a mandatory defense of Carl Froch’s IBF Super Middleweight title and an optional defense of his WBA Super Middleweight title.
'George Groves’ appeal was based in part on Rule 12. A. 2 of the IBF/USBA Rules Governing Championship Contests - Inappropriate conduct by the referee which is alleged to have affected the outcome of the fight.
'There were a number of reasons presented in his appeal presented as evidence of inappropriate conduct by referee Howard Foster. However, the one argument presented to the panel that they could make and educated decision on was that the referee simply misinterpreted George Groves’ evasive techniques as being an indication that Mr. Groves was in “trouble”.
'The panel determined that the referee gave appropriate warnings to both fighters but did not choose to deduct points. The panel felt that in the 9th round, Groves should have been allowed to continue as he did not appear to be seriously hurt and was counter punching and attempting to move the action away from the ropes at the time of the stoppage. In addition, the referee waived off the fight from behind Groves instead of in front of him and did not look into his eyes. Groves showed no signs of being hurt after the stoppage. In sum, the panel felt it was an improper stoppage.
'After a review of the information presented to the panel, it has been determined that there was inappropriate conduct by the referee that affected the outcome of the fight. Based on the foregoing the IBF is ordering an immediate rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves for the IBF Super Middleweight title. The Bout must take place within 90 days, or by April 24, 2014, and neither boxer can take any other fight in that time frame. The signed contracts are due within 15 days or by February 8, 2014. If the IBF doesn’t receive the contracts by February 8, 2014, we will call for a Purse Bid.
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