Fight Revisited: The night Carl Froch delivered in front of 80,000 at Wembley Stadium

The Froch-Groves duology is credited as the rivalry which got boxing back on the map in the UK.

On May 31, 2014, Carl Froch faced rival George Groves for an iconic British bout at Wembley Stadium.

The fight is one of the biggest in domestic boxing history, helping to kickstart the stadium boxing scene that is now enjoyed by fans today. The pair first met in the ring back in November 2013, with Froch’s WBA and IBF super middleweight titles on the line. Nottingham-born Froch went on to win the bout via TKO in the ninth round, but it was mired in controversy.

Froch’s camp claimed he had won the fight fairly and that referee Howard Foster did his job well by stopping the fight before Groves got seriously hurt. But Groves’ camp did not agree. They thought Foster stopped the fight too early and immediately sought a rematch with an appeal to the IBF - an appeal he won. 

The second contest was billed as ‘The Rematch’ and ‘Unfinished Business’. It was the first boxing event to be held at the new Wembley Stadium and Froch once again put his WBA and IBF belts on the line.

The world champion was the favourite going into the fight. He weighed in at 167.9 pounds and had a record of 32-2 (23 KOs). Groves weighed in at 166.4 pounds and had a record of 19-1 (15 KOs). It set a pot-war record with a live attendance of 80,000 fans at the stadium and it's safe to say they were not dissapointed by the outcome. 

The rematch

The bout got off to a cagey start, with neither fighter wanting to give anything away to their opponent. Froch looked more positive than in the first fight, however, and used his jab effectively to prevent a pacey onslaught from Groves.

The champion respected Groves’ speed and technique a lot more and used his experience to dampen any attack. By the second round, the fighters started to grow into the fight and sought to establish their respective game plans. Froch had clearly been told by his corner to start quicker and dominate the centre of the ring.

Groves, meanwhile, started slower than in the first bout and seemed to save his energy for the latter rounds, potentially wary of Froch’s stamina. 

Rob McCracken (L) was Carl Froch's trainer throughout his career and is now coaching and managing Anthony Joshua
Rob McCracken (L) was Carl Froch's trainer throughout his career and is now coaching and managing Anthony Joshua

The second round saw the first serious bit of action, with the fighters trying to roughen each other up in a grapple. Froch threw Groves to the floor before the referee could intervene, which was not scored as a knockdown on the judge’s scorecards.

Froch was able to dictate the pace in the early rounds and landed a big right hand in the third round to send Groves backwards. The fans in attendance were loving every minute of the intense action they were seeing and were in full voice.

They were generally in support of Groves as a result of the controversial stoppage in the first bout.

Froch landed a serious blow in the fifth to send Groves back-pedalling and this time he landed on the ropes. But the champion failed to follow up the blow and Groves was soon allowed to get back into his rhythm, actively searching for a hole in the four-time champion's defence.

By round seven, most journalists and professionals had ‘The Cobra’ Froch up on points which meant that Groves needed to start landing some heavy blows.

He acted on this, stunning Froch with a big left hand right on the chin. Froch was sent to the ropes for the first time but managed to weather the storm.

The eighth saw both fighters start to unload on each other as they saw their opponent getting more tired. Froch’s stamina showed, as he was able to avoid punches effectively while also landing power punches of his own. In devastating fashion, "The Cobra" sent Groves to the canvas with a devastating combination that left his opponent flat out on the floor. The referee waved it off before starting a count, giving Froch a victory with no controversy surrounding it. 

Froch delivered one of the most spectacular KOs witnessed in a boxing ring
Froch delivered one of the most spectacular KOs witnessed in a boxing ring

Aftermath

The result meant Froch successfully defended his super middleweight belts, while it left Groves with only the second loss of a career which went on to be largely-successful.

Over a year after the bout, Froch retired from boxing to vacate his WBA and IBF belts in July 2015. Groves continued to fight until 2018. He beat fighters including Martin Murray and Chris Eubank Jr after the loss, and delivered in becoming world champion by defeating Russian Fedor Chudinov in his fourth attemot to win WBA super-middleweight title. 

After reaching the World Boxing Super Series final, Groves - who clearly had not recovered from his dislocated shoulder from his previous win over Eubank - was knocked out by Callum Smith in the seventh round.

Fourth time lucky - Groves defeated Fedor Chudinov in Sheffield to become WBA super middleweight world champion before beating Chris Eubank Jr.
Fourth time lucky - Groves defeated Fedor Chudinov in Sheffield to become WBA super middleweight world champion before beating Chris Eubank Jr.

The fight between Froch and Groves heralded a new stadium era for the sport in Britain which fans are still enjoying today. World heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has continued where Froch and Groves left off, beating Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium in front of huge crowds in recent years.

The 2014 rematch between Froch and Groves remains one of the biggest in British boxing history. The sheer rivalry and stakes of the fight meant it encapsulated all boxing fans in the country. The fight will therefore be remembered for years to come.

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