Blair’s view from Britain:
This week’s most intriguing boxing tidbits were without doubt centered on the fast-approaching rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves on May 31st. As is now custom for “The Biggest Fight Since (insert last big fight here)”, a coming together of combatants was scheduled for live television in order to beguile the masses.
And so Thursday’s episode of Ringside saw Froch and Groves, who are not know for their ability to behave sitting next to each other, pretty much sitting next to each other. Promoter Eddie Hearn sat between the pair, trying his damnedest not to grin like a Cheshire cat, as the quote-a-thon got underway.
Froch, who clearly would rather have been pummeling a punchbag with a photo of Groves’ face on it via wooden mallet, did his best to remain composed, while Groves continued his attempts to rattle the Cobra’s cage.
“When I box Carl Froch, whether he’s mentally on his A-game or whether he falls to pieces, he’s still not going to be quicker than me…I’m still going to hurt him every time I hit him,” Groves said, after the pair had argued briefly over a confrontation they had at the first press conference which ensued in Froch shoving Groves.
Froch accused Groves of slurping. Groves then asked for a definition of slurping. Such uncertainties will undoubtedly be structurally integral to the way the fight eventually plays out. If Groves did ‘slurp’, will he really be able to last the full twelve rounds?
One thing that cannot be questioned is the size of the fight. It looks likely that around 80,000 fans will show up at Wembley to cheer on the duo, and it’s a struggle to see how it will not be exciting.
Come the weekend, Amir Khan returned to the ring by out-pointing quality veteran Luis Collazo on the undercard to Floyd Mayweather’s clash with Argentine tough-nut Marcos Maidana. Khan has amassed a reputation for providing unabashed excitement when he fights due to his combination of unfettered hand speed and defensive fragility, but on this occasion he looked more like a prototypical Virgil Hunter fighter.
Smothering Collazo on the inside, tying him up when under duress and picking his punches, Khan looked as refined as he ever has, a good feat considering the free-wheeling macho madhouse he at times became under the tutelage of Freddie Roach. Khan was rocked to his boots in the 8th round, but recovered and refused to engage like he often used to do. The performance was technically proficient, but not barnstorming, and although a confidence boost it may not have caught the attention of the casual observer enough to prompt a fight with Mayweather this year.
“Styles make fights and I believe my style would cause Floyd problems,” Khan attested of a potential match-up with the Money Man. The victory is no doubt a step in the right direction for Khan, but one more of similar magnitude would go a long way to furthering his cause.
Fellow Englishmen Anthony Ogogo and Ashley Theophane also appeared on the bill, both earning stoppage wins.
In other news, Nathan Cleverly and Kevin Mitchell both announced their respective returns to the ring. Cleverly will come back against Sean Corbin on May 17th, while Mitchell has an IBF title eliminator scheduled against Ghislain Maduma for the 31st.
Fighter of the Week
Amir Khan. Credit must be given to the Bolton welterweight, who moved up a weight after a long time out of the ring and put on a performance devoid of ring-rust and self-defeating machismo. This writer did indeed request that Khan beat a decent welterweight before he be given a shot at Floyd Mayweather, and he did just that on Saturday night, suggesting he still has an exciting future ahead of him.
Quote of the Week
“There is nothing he can say that is going to wind me up. It’s impossible” – Carl Froch speaks out on George Groves’ jibes. Personally, I wouldn’t bet on it.
Some interesting fights are upon us this weekend, though they may not attract worldwide attention. Derry Mathews and Martin Gethin meet in the battle of gangly lightweights. Both men lost last time out but are quality domestic level fighters and both tend to be involved in fan-friendly fights. Mathews seems to have come back more than Rocky Balboa, and so it takes a brave man to go against him in this one. I will though. Gethin on points. Elsewhere, Adil Anwar and Chad Gaynor come together in a tussle of quality young domestic fighters, and Kid Galahad defends his Commonwealth super bantamweight title against Fred Mundraby.