Home Columns 5 Key questions for Froch vs Groves II, part 1: Will the...

5 Key questions for Froch vs Groves II, part 1: Will the rematch be like the first fight?

Credit: Matchroom Boxing

As is custom in boxing, the sequel to the original has attracted the interest of the mainstream fan. As the rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves prepares to cross the divide, going from boxing match to massive public event on the 31st, fight fans will be hard at work knitting together an accurate picture of how they feel the fight may play out. Froch or Groves II is the ultimate uncertainty, but there are several questions that need to be considered in order to make an informed decision.

This is part I of a 5-part series analyzing the key questions which will decide the outcome of the rematch.

Question 1: Will the rematch look anything like the first fight?

‘Styles make fights’. It is a mantra repeated to the point that it manifests itself in any fight, at any level, anywhere. It suggests that it matters little how the two combatants fought the last time you saw them or who it was they were fighting, no matter how much faster or stronger they appeared; ultimately it is the contrasting styles of fighters that will dictate the rhythm of a boxing match.

Using that particular adage it may be assumed that Carl Froch and George Groves will simply resume the grueling battle of attrition that they waged for almost nine full rounds last year when they meet once again this weekend. Such an assumption does not, however, take into account those unique early exchanges that undoubtedly shaped the rest of their first fight, as well as the revised mentalities, strategies and motivations that will have been formed in the lead up to this rematch.

Late in the first round of their first fight, when Groves landed a booming overhand right, Froch’s face contorted and his eyes temporarily glazed and, the rest of the fight changed irrevocably. What was widely predicted to be an ultimately comfortable title defense for Froch became a torrid conflict, not just with Groves, but with his own senses.

Right hand after right hand rained down upon ‘The Cobra’ in the ensuing rounds as he attempted to get his feet back underneath him. He just didn’t have time to steady himself, and so ended up trying to wade through Groves’ shots rather than parry, slip or avoid them. The fight descended into a brutal bar-room brawl with leather gloves as gameplans were chucked out the window with abandon.

Groves had predicted that he would nail Froch with the right hand prior that first meeting, and it is not a new concept to suggest that Froch is open to that particular shot – Glen Johnson, Mikkel Kessler and many others had their most successful moments with it when they faced Froch. But one thing that was tellingly unusual, however, was Froch’s gung-ho attitude early in that first bout.

Even in his five round demolition job of Lucian Bute, Froch played it safe early. He rumbled patiently in the rematch with Kessler, too. This suggests that Froch was either overly confident of his chances of finishing Groves early, or he had been acutely affected by Groves’ pre-fight mind wars. Given Froch made regular mention of the time he dropped Groves when they sparred in days of yore points to the possibility that he felt, with the smaller gloves and lack of head-guards, he could knock Groves out.

So how will the second fight be any different? For starters Froch will be far more aware of the threat posed by Groves. Any disregard he had for Groves prior to the first fight will no longer be prevalent; the younger man has commanded Froch’s full attention.

It must also be considered how Groves will react to the first fight’s ending. ‘The Saint’ has stated he now ‘knows’ rather than ‘believes’ he can defeat Froch, but having landed everything but the kitchen sink first time around, whilst still failing to fully discourage the older man, thoughts of the later rounds must play on his mind.

The first fight was stopped prematurely, of that there is widespread agreement, though where the fight was headed was certainly unsafe territory for Groves. In the rematch, he will want to hurt Froch early and often once again, though he will also wish to safeguard some stamina for the latter stages should Froch be staunch enough to withstand his power.

The rematch is unlikely to go the distance – indeed it is difficult to see how it could, with both men possessing stylistically divergent but similarly wicked offensive traits – but it is entirely possible that greater patience will be extolled by both fighters this weekend, in comparison to the immediate violence we saw from them last year at the sound of the opening bell.

Froch will be more conservative, understanding Groves’ potential to hit and hurt him should he open up too early on, while Groves will be just as audacious, but perhaps with a longer term strategy, knowing Froch can hold up to his most vicious assaults. As a result, this sequel may be less an old western shootout, more an intense psychological thriller.