by David P. Greisman
Though the fight between super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch and challenger George Groves will likely be taking place on Nov. 23 in Manchester, their promoter had planned for their bout to be made for the summer of 2014.
But the International Boxing Federation had Groves as Froch’s mandatory challenger. And so Eddie Hearn called up both men and wound up with what he called “a really big domestic fight” between “the old guard” and “the new, young superstar.”
“If I had a choice, I would’ve made Froch-[Mikkel] Kessler 3, probably,” Hearn of Matchroom Sport told BoxingScene’s David Greisman and Tim Starks of Queensberry-Rules.com on Aug. 16 at the weigh-in for the fight between Daniel Geale and Darren Barker in Atlantic City. “But we got into a situation with the IBF where I went down the list and there was George Groves. They don’t like each other. So I phoned up Carl Froch and said, ‘Do you want to fight George Groves?’ He’s like, ‘Whatever.’ But I said, ‘Well, if you don’t, you’ve got to relinquish the title so that George Groves can fight for it.’ He said ‘No chance.’
“Then I phoned George Groves and said, ‘Do you want to relinquish your position as mandatory challenger?’ And he said, ‘No chance.’ So financially it’s probably the biggest fight for Froch outside of [Gennady] Golovkin. I don’t think the [Andre] Ward fight appeals. It would sell in the U.K., but stylistically we all know what’s going to happen. Andre Ward is going to do what he does and do what he’s very good at, which is spoil and win rounds. Defensively he’s a technician, but people don’t really want to watch him fight. I can’t speak for Americans, but in the U.K. people like watching Froch-Kessler. The purists might like Froch against Ward, and I think honestly in the U.K. it’d be a totally different fight.”
He said he thinks a rematch between Froch and Ward — who defeated Froch in December 2011 in the finale of Showtime’s “Super Six” tournament — might happen in time. But Ward’s “got his own issues at the moment,” Hearn said, referring to Ward’s return from an injury and the reported difficulties he’s had in coming to an agreement with HBO on an opponent.
“I reached out to [promoter Dan] Goossen two or three months ago for this fight, but they weren’t interested in this fight for the comeback fight,” Hearn said. “I don’t blame them. It would’ve been mad. But the problem Ward’s got now is the kind of fight he wants for the comeback fight is the kind of fight that nobody, including the broadcaster, is interested in.”
So instead Froch, who is 36 years old, has a record of 31-2 (22 knockouts) and is coming off a May decision win over Kessler, will fight Groves, who is 25 ans has a record of 19-0 with 15 knockouts. It is a bout between stable-mates with no love lost between each other.
“Carl has come up the hard way and he’s had to fight the very, very best to get to where he is, and Groves hasn’t,” Hearn said. “If you look at Groves’ record, he’s beaten [James] DeGale, he’s beaten Glen Johnson, but he hasn’t got the tough nights that Carl Froch had to get into that position. And I think in Carl’s head he thinks that George doesn’t deserve the shot, and George thinks that Carl is overrated.”
He believes HBO should be interested in showing Froch-Groves as it sets the table for future opponents for two of the network’s featured stars.
“At the end of the day, if they want Golovkin-Froch, if they want Froch against Ward, then it makes sense to keep him on the channel,” Hearn said.
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]