Home Columns Froch vs. Groves II mega-preview, final chapter: Who really has the edge?

Froch vs. Groves II mega-preview, final chapter: Who really has the edge?

Credit: Lawrence Lustig

With both Carl Froch and George Groves now weighed in and ready to fight, we move ever closer to one of the biggest British fights of all time. The build up to this highly-anticipated rematch has been a struggle for both men, with each hoping to gain some sort of psychological advantage going into tomorrow evening’s bout. As Al Pacino’s character in ‘Any Given Sunday’ alluded to – inches, it’s all about inches.

In this, the last article in a five-part series leading up to the fight, both men will be assessed in three categories in order to define which one may possess that precious inch.

The Physical Edge

Froch is still the naturally stronger and more durable man, while Groves holds the advantage in hand speed and athleticism. Essentially, that first fight resembled the unstoppable force versus the immovable object as Groves detonated right hands on the granite jaw of Froch without being able to break the champion’s will.

Groves will still have that explosive power second time around, but whether Froch still has the hard-chinned remedy is uncertain. How could any man retain the iron resolve to take those overhand rights time and time again? Essentially that question can only be answered tomorrow night, but there will surely be a degree of angst within team Froch that he cannot afford to accumulate the same wear and tear second time around and expect to be the one left standing at the end.

Today Groves, supposedly the naturally heavier of the two, was forced to sit through an extra three hours waiting time as the weigh in was pushed back to a 4pm start time. This may well have been a small struggle for him, reducing the time he has to re-hydrate and revert to his normal weight. Froch, on the other hand, is a natural at 168 lbs and as such will have been on weight for a while in comparison. That could make a difference.

Edge: Froch, just, assuming he still has the same resilience as before.

The Mental Edge

The first fight left wounds that are yet to fully heal. Groves felt the first clash was stopped too early; Froch was on the receiving end of boos because of the way the fight ended. As a result, this rematch will be an opportunity for both men to exorcise those lingering inner demons.

Froch has certainly better handled the psychological mind wars of Groves and his team this time around. At the press conference to announce the fight members of team Froch laughed at Groves while he spoke. Froch then pushed Groves on the Wembley turf in front of the cameras, further riling up the younger man. In pre-fight shows, Froch has picked holes in Groves’ statements, at times leaving him completely unresponsive. All this suggests that Froch’s decision to hire a sports psychologist has paid dividends.

With around 80,000 people expected to be baying for both men on the night, it will be important for each to keep a hold of their emotions and handle the occasion as much as the fight itself. Froch will enter the ring secure in the knowledge that he has already had an exceptional career and, controversy or not, he won the first fight. Groves, on the other hand, will understand that defeat here would be remembered for the rest of his journey through the sport. It could thus be argued that there is relatively more at stake here for Groves, adding further pressure on the challenger’s shoulders.

Edge: Froch, who is now fully aware of and prepared for the threat Groves poses.

The Technical Edge

The often held perception of Froch as some sort of free-slugging caveman is well off. He may not have the speed of other top class fighters, but he has a quality jab which, when committed to, is a problem for anyone. Thrown from the waist it can be used as a ramrod, and was crucial in the rematch with Mikkel Kessler and the shutout victory over Arthur Abraham.

Groves has better footwork and lateral movement, however, and this can make him difficult for a slower man such as Froch to pin down. He is not a defensive wizard a la Andre Ward, though, and he can be caught and rocked, as he was in the first fight, as well as in earlier career dust-ups.

Froch too is open, particularly for the overhand right, a shot that has proved effective against him consistently throughout his career. His offense tends to be his best form of defense, and unlike Groves, he does not have the speed necessary to save him from those defensive vulnerabilities.

Groves can fight effectively on both the front and back foot, and as such is the more versatile fighter of the duo. He is also a better punch-picker – the first round of the first fight proved testament to that.

Edge: Groves, as he is adaptable, has less fundamental frailties and throws varied punch combinations.

Final Word on Froch vs. Groves 2

Froch is fully prepared mentally and physically this time around. That means he won’t be walking into overhand rights with such abandon. Groves has as much to prove and will have to remain calm to make full use of his technical advantages. Neither man is a master on the inside nor defensively impenetrable however, which means that at some point both will get hit and most likely hurt. Froch has walked through fire before though, so expect him to do so again. All things considered, Carl Froch has a slight edge going into tomorrow night’s rematch.