Froch vs. Groves II squabbles: What does it all mean?

Credit: Matchroom Boxing

On Friday, two major news items broke in the ongoing question of whether Carl Froch would give his English arch-rival George Groves a rematch, following their controversial first clash that saw Froch stop Groves in a referee call that many deemed premature.

First, Froch announced that Groves had rejected a “seven-figure” offer that was far more generous than Groves’s purse in the first match, and as a result Froch was moving on with negotiations to meet Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (presumably after Chavez gets past his own controversy-laden rematch with Brian Vera). Hours later, the IBF stepped in and ordered Froch to fight Groves in 90 days, or be stripped of his title.

Fight fans are left with two big questions in the wake of these developments. First, does Carl Froch really want to fight George Groves again or not? Second, what if Froch vs. Groves II doesn’t come off?

Does Froch Want Groves Or Not?

Given that Froch has never evinced much interest in public in a rematch with Groves, asking whether he really wants to make the fight happen is a fair question. Fighters sometimes make bogus offers to opponents they don’t want to actually meet, offers with big purses but packed with other terms designed to ensure the opponent in question rejects them. The “offer he can’t help but refuse” is a time-tested public relations strategy in boxing, but we won’t really know if Froch is using it until we actually get to see the terms Groves was offered.

After all, it could just be that the public squabble over terms between Froch and Groves is part of a larger negotiating process. Perhaps someone at the IBF tipped off Groves that they were coming down on his side, so he rejected a reasonable offer knowing full well he would soon have extra leverage. That too is an old story in boxing, and the negotiating tactic of a man feigning little or no interest (as Froch is doing) is old hat not just in boxing, but in haggling in general.

What If Froch Doesn’t Fight Groves?

Should Froch opt to duck Groves, I have no doubt the IBF will strip him of their title. I also have little doubt that Chavez, backed by crooked Texas officials, will win his rematch with Brian Vera. So, Froch should get his lucrative match with Chavez, and he will be the favorite to win that.

With or without the IBF’s red belt, the Cobra will remain a reputable commodity in the super middleweight division. He has reached that stage in his career where he has plenty of luster with or without a world title around his waist, and not having one won’t hurt his prospects for 2014 (at ProBoxing-Fans.com, we don’t count Froch’s fake WBA belt).

In the wake of Froch’s dethroning, Groves would undoubtedly find himself in a match for the vacant title. Strangely, Groves is ranked only #6 with the IBF this month, and the #1 and #2 slots are vacant. Contenders #3 to #5 are Brandon Gonzalez, Maksim Vlasov, and James DeGeale, and these three are the most logical choice for that IBF title fight.

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