Home Columns 5 questions for Froch vs. Groves II, part 2: Will Froch handle...

5 questions for Froch vs. Groves II, part 2: Will Froch handle Groves’ mind games?

Credit: Lawrence Lustig

Part 2 of The Froch vs. Groves Mega-Preview:

Prior to their first fight last November, George Groves rattled Carl Froch without landing a punch. Groves; a once precocious prospect evolving into a contender, was deemed unworthy of his world title shot by Froch, who appeared unnerved at every promotional event the duo were involved in. Groves sought to rub this in at every given turn, reminding Froch not only that he was fighting him, but that he was going to beat him.

[Also SeeQuestion 1: Will the rematch look like the first fight?]

The idea must have been a terrifying vision for a proud champion such as Froch. The Nottingham man puffed his chest out and refuted Groves’ chances of victory, but deep inside the darkest, most avoided corridors of his mind, Froch must have been asking – “why is this kid so damn confident?”

Those who have followed Froch’s career thus far will be fully aware of the circumstances in which he arose to world title success and international recognition. He won his first world title with a hard-fought points win over Jean Pascal in 2008. Since then he has fought ten times, losing just twice. All ten of those fights had world titles on the line and he competed against the very best the super middleweight division had to offer.

So when Groves; a known but relatively inexperienced, much younger man, was initially lined up as his next opponent, Froch was irked at the prospect of losing everything he had fought so long and hard to earn to a fighter who had been given an opportunity he never had.

Such ire could stem all the way back to Froch’s time stuck in ‘contender’ stasis. For years he pursued a match-up with Welsh legend and super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe, though the fight never came off. When Groves, a fighter who had only recently moved beyond domestic opposition got a chance at his world titles, it could have stirred old feelings of resentment within Froch.

This anger certainly echoed in Froch’s attitude in the build up to the bout, as well as the fight itself. His wish to finish the young upstart and put him back in his place translated to a performance in which he was anxious to hit and hurt Groves, in turn leading him to the canvas early on via counter right hand.

Since the rematch was signed, sealed and delivered live on air, Froch seems to be gradually placating himself in Groves’ presence. Recent promotional exchanges have portrayed a calm Froch, while Groves appeared slightly out of sorts.

Without reading too much into such trivial events, there is no doubt Froch is switched on ahead of this rematch. He has made use of sports psychology to aid him in his preparation, and has publicly made no bones about his belief in its benefits to his potential performance in the ring. There may be no headphones or hypnosis, a la Steve Collins in his preparation for Chris Eubank, but clearly there is a desire on Froch’s part not to allow Groves to rile him up this time around – an acknowledgment that he must keep it together in order to put in a calm, measured display on fight night.

Groves has stated he now ‘knows’ he can beat Froch, rather than simply ‘believing’ as he did before the first fight. Froch now knows this too, having endured such a difficult examination of character thanks to the speed and power of Groves that November night. His mental preparation should now match that of the physical, and he will be more self-aware than ever before ahead of a fight. All the signs suggest that Carl Froch is in a positive frame of mind ahead of this rematch, and that could serve as a warning sign for George Groves.