Carl Froch v George Groves (full card review)
By Gav Duthie: It is difficult to understate the enormity of probably the biggest fight in British boxing history with the rematch between Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch and George ‘Saint’ Groves. This is a great spectacle for the UK because not only is this a domestic rivalry between two guys who can’t stand each other it is also a bout between two World level fighters. On top if this the fight will take place in England’s national stadium Wembley in front of 80,000 fans.
As always Eddie Hearn to his credit isn’t just satisfied with a big headline. He has produced a sizzling undercard which I will attempt to review in detail. After extensive research (boxrec and youtube mostly) I will discuss a breakdown of the fights confirmed so far as well as my usual miles off predictions.
Carl Froch 32-2 (23) v George Groves 19-1 (15)
For the main event it is important to establish what happened in the first fight and what mistakes were made from both fighters. Going into the first bout I had no doubt in my mind that George Groves had the better jab, faster hands and better footwork whilst the power and experience was with Carl. I expected George to outbox him but because of Carl’s 3 inch reach advantage I was surprised at how well George established the jab. From the start Carl’s jab was falling short because he kept leaning back when he threw it worrying about George Groves counter shots. That coupled with better lateral movement from Groves meant he dominated the centre of he ring. With Carl as usual punching from the hips and straight on meant George delivered a perfect right hand counter to drop Carl in round 1. Carl improved in the mid rounds as he seemed to accept George as the better boxer and stopped going for single shots.
The fight was very reminiscent of Carl’s previous fights against namesakes Andre Ward and Dirrell. The difference here to George’s detriment was that his hatred for Carl drew him into a scrap he should never have been involved in. Most agree there is no way the fight should have been stopped but Groves should never have put himself in that situation.
Carl Froch is a warrior. From a technical standpoint he should be nowhere near world level. He keeps a low left arm with average reflexes, he gets hit a lot and he punches from his hips too much so he often telegraphs his shots. He’s up there because he is never beaten until the final bell. He has one of the bet chins in boxing and he is very aggressive. He has good punching power and a decent jab at a certain level.
Andre Dirrell 21-1 (14) W SD 12
I picked out this fight because Dirrell’s performance should be the blueprint for George Groves. It is not lost on me that Dirrell lost this fight but the decision was a joke. Andre established his jab, moved extremely well round the ring and had no problems ducking away from Froch’s wild right hands. It is arguable that Andre was a little too negative to take the title, hence the only difference George should make is to be slightly more aggressive and counter in the middle of the ring which he is very capable of. Dirrell remained disciplined all night, never got into a tear up and should have won.
Most notable fights so far
Mikkel Kessler (rematch) 46-3 (35) W UD 12
It would have been easy to add in the Ward fight but that one went similar to Dirrell. I chose the Kessler rematch in Carl’s favour because he and Rob McCracken improved the game plan astronomically from the first fight with the Dane. Kessler gave up the first three rounds because he couldn’t get close to Carl because of his long left jab. This bout and the Arthur Abraham fight were Carl’s best showing of boxing ability. In the later rounds when the fight became more toe to toe it was pretty even. The good start gave Carl the win and it is imperative he starts well against George.
As aforementioned George is a better boxer than Carl. I would be surprised if anyone was to dispute this. Pride might be his downfall if he decides he needs to go for a knockout. George is superior in most departments except for brawling. Carl needs to make this a street fight and George needs to keep boxing.
Most notable fights so far
Kenny Anderson 18-1 (13) W TKO 6
Anyone who has seen this fight will agree that the Carl Froch stoppage was hugely premature. George was hurt much more by Kenny Anderson in this scrap. George started well as usual with the jab at his disposal. Anderson isn’t hugely talented but he is solid and happy to take shots to land his own. George’s punches are often hooks round the guard whereas guys like Anderson and Froch punch straight through the middle. Again in this fight George’s pride got the better of him as he disrespected Anderson by brawling. Anderson landed big and dropped George. Groves was extremely hurt and it took some calming words from Adam Booth no longer his trainer to get him back on track. Despite being hurt badly he got back to his boxing and stopped Anderson in the 6th.
James DeGale 18-1 (12) W SD 12
This was a good fight for George because he managed to stay disciplined throughout. Again Adam Booth had a perfect game plan so its a worry that he won’t be there. Groves stuck to his jab throughout and although it was close George controlled the action. He needs to do the same to frustrate Froch, make him miss to set up the counter.
It all depends on Groves. If he stays disciplined he can outbox Carl any day of the week. I cannot see that happening though. At some point Carl will land and Groves response will be key. Even if George believes he could have survived the onslaught in the first fight he would be careless to go looking for a punch up again. However I feel father time may have caught up with Carl and George can see this out.
George Groves W SD 12
James DeGale 18-1 (12) v Brandon Gonzales 18-0-1 (10)
This could be the most competitive fight of the night and a real 50/50 for me. Both DeGale and Gonzales have similar records and fought at a similar level of opposition. The winner has a good chance of fighting Froch or Groves next.
Its been 6 years since DeGale won olympic gold and since then his career has been stop/start for various reasons. Only 19 fights in 6 years is a poor return for someone with much promise. His career has been derailed mainly due to promotional issues. He started with Frank Warren and left shortly after winning the European title. He was then part of Mick Hennesey’s failed attempt to take boxing to channel 5 and has now recently signed with Eddie Hearn.
Due to this promotional uncertainty he has been quite inactive at certain points and his loss to domestic rival George Groves didn’t help either. James is an excellent counter puncher with both hands. He can box well but sometimes neglects to use the jab. He is more comfortable on the back foot but can mix it up on the offensive also.
Most Notable fights so far
George Groves 19-1 (15) L SD 12
DeGale was the big favourite in this fight due to Groves ropey performance against Kenny Anderson. Both fighters had only fought a handful of fights so it was a big step up for them. Both fighters prefer to counter punch so the fact that Groves fought mostly on the back foot suited him better. DeGale made a good fight of it though but didn’t use the jab enough whilst Groves used it well and often. It was extremely close but I felt Groves deserved the result. James will probably need to fight on the front foot against Gonzales so it is important he doesn’t run out of ideas and cuts off the ring better.
Piotr Wilczewski 31-3 (10) W MD 12
In quite a bold strategy by Frank Warren he put James in for a European title shot in only his 12th pro fight and straight after the Groves loss. The polish champion was 29-1 at the time and the risk nearly didn’t pay off. In the first half of he fight DeGale was hurt much worse than against Groves and was probably behind by the mid point. He really dug out the win in the second half though pushing back the tough pole with good combinations. By the final bell he just about deserved his majority decision. This looked like a very good win at the time but when Wilczewski fought Arthur Abrahams a couple of fights later he was completely dominated by the Armenian.
Brandon has already worked with three high profile trainers in his relatively short career. He feels he is a very well rounded fighter due to learning with these different styles.
In an interview with Fighthype, Brandon said
“Ray Woods implements power and that inside style and Jeff teaches that pure boxing style”
On his current trainer Virgil Hunter he added
“He didn’t try to alter anything; he just gives me scenarios and drills and the education of when to use certain attributes that I possess”.
Most Notable fights so far
Ossie Duran 28-11-3(11) W SD 8
This is the fight to forget if your Brandon Gonzales. Most fighters have one of those nights where it doesn’t happen for you. He was lucky to win this one. Duran was the more aggressive from the outset and often dominated the centre of the ring with this strong jab. Virgil Hunter was fairly discontent with his fighter between rounds and there was some improvement as a result. He moved around much better in the mid rounds and threw more combinations but Duran continued to set up decent shots off the jab. Fortunately in many of these close fights the prospect gets the nod.
In this fight he defended poorly with the low left arm, constantly getting tagged with jabs and overhand rights. Its fair to say hat he has massively improved since this fight.
Thomas Ooisthuizen 22-0-2 (13) D12
This fight against the awkward 6″4 South African was probably Gonzales most impressive despite the draw. Gonzales was very dominant in the opening exchanges. His jab was crisper and he was landing good combinations against his slower opponent. One of the judges scored the bout 98-92 in Brandon’s favour so he was probably quite unlucky. The main worry for me here was that Ooisthuizen did start to impose himself better in the second half of the fight. Brandon has never fought 12 rounds compared to James DeGale who has went the distance 5 times losing only once narrowly to George Groves.
Its a tough one. I think both fighters could probably work harder at times. Gonzales defence has certainly improved over the last couple of years. DeGale gets hit far too much with both hands usually low but is an excellent counter puncher. DeGale can mix it up though is better on he back foot. I think he will have to be the aggressor in this fight. The 12 rounds may effect Gonzales so he needs to start well to make sure DeGales 12 round experience doesn’t show later on. I think DeGale could take over in the second half of the fight.
James DeGale W UD12
Kevin Mitchell 37-2 (27) v Ghislan Maduma 16-0 (10)
This is a final eliminator fight for the IBF title currently held by Miguel Vasquez 34-3 (13). After over a year out following Kevin Mitchell’s 4th round stoppage defeat to Ricky Burns he has taken it easy under new promoter Eddie Hearn. This fight will be anything but easy. Maduma from Canada is certainly less experienced but very talented. This will be Mitchell’s 40th bout and only Maduma’s 17th despite both fighters being 29 years old.
Kevin Mitchell is a decent all round boxer without really excelling in anything. His best punch is undoubtedly the left hook which he usually throws as a counter shot. Mitchell also has a decent jab but quite a short reach at 67″. This was the main reason Ricky Burns was able to impose himself on their fight. Mitchell was constantly falling short with his jab and hook. That coupled with the fact that Mitchell struggles with pressure meant Burns landed with ease. Mitchell also froze on the big occasion against Michael Katsidis when the aggresive Australian didn’t let him box and stopped him in the third round. Mitchell’s best wins have came against Breidis Prescott and John Murray.
This Canadian is relatively inexperienced with his best win coming in his last fight capturing the NABF lightweight title beating John Carlo Aparicio 27-8 (21) in a 3rd round stoppage.
Maduma’s fighting style is quite similar to Mitchell’s. His best punches are the jab and he constantly looks to use the left hook as a counter shot. He moves quite well and has decent footwork.
As aforementioned Mitchell mainly struggles with high velocity pressure fighters. He shouldn’t have to deal with too much of that against Maduma and Mitchell has much more experience. It will be important to see who establishes the jab as this could be the key to the fight. I think the opening exchanges will be close but I see Mitchell taking over later on.
Kevin Mitchell W UD 12
Jamie McDonell 23-2-1 (10) v Tabtingdaem Na Rachawat 52-2 (34)
For some reason the WBA have sanctioned this fight for their vacant Bantamweight title. Tabtindaem Na Rachawat (try saying that after a couple of drinks) has never fought out of his native Thailand in 54 fights. McDonnell is desperate to win back a title after he unfairly lost he IBF title last year outside the ring.
To be honest I’ve never been a huge fan. First of all he decided to tell Sky Sports in an interview that he doesn’t really like boxing. Probably not the best way to make fans and his fighting style doesn’t really make up for it. McDonell is not hugely skilled but he has terrific stamina (I’m still wandering whether he tag teams his twin brother between rounds). Standing at 5″8 inches he is extremely tall for a Bantamweight. He is not a huge puncher but his size and strength makes it hard for his opponents to dominate the centre of the ring. He has a decent chin and has upped his work rate dramatically over the years.
When McDonell lost domestic level fights to Chis Edwrds 10-12-3(3) at he time and then Lee Haskins 16-2 (7) it looked as if he was going nowhere. I also felt that he lost to Ian Napa 19-7 (1) for the British title but he got the nod by split decision. Since then he has beaten current world champion Stuart Hall and Julio Ceja and is much improved.
There is some footage of the Thai online and he looks decent, all be it against sub standard opposition. It will be difficult for him coming over to he lions den to fight and how he handles that pressure will be vital. He seems much shorter than McDonell, he has a decent jab but not likely to win that battle against Jamie. He can move up the gears quickly and if he gets his opponent in he corner he flurries and has a decent straight right hand. He has lost his biggest two fights in his career so far both by stoppage which doesn’t bode well. In his last two fights he fought a ring debutant and another who had only fought once and lost. Rachawat’s record is extremely padded and this is a huge step up for him.
McDonnell should be a world champion again by the nights end.
Jamie McDonnell Ko 8
Anthony Joshua 5-0 (5) v TBA
Hard to review this one without an opponent. Anthony Joshua is developing well and has fought at a decent pedigree so far for a five fight novice. He has shared opponents with both Hughie Fury and Derek Chisora and so far has managed to stop them in more clinical fashion than his counterparts.
Michael Sprott 40-21 (17)
Don’t let the record fool you. This would be a big step up for Joshua. Sprott only fights top young contenders. He has a good jab and decent speed but is very small for a heavyweight. He is scheduled to fight in a prize fighter tournament in New Zealand in June worth 100k but says he would fight Joshua if asked.
Anthony Joshua W TKO 3
Audley Harrison 31-7 (23)
A fight in gimmick only if it comes off. The 2000 Sydney Olympic champion v the 2012 London Olympic champion. Of course this is a step up also. Audley has been a European champion and challenged for a World title. He is a decent boxer with the southpaw jab and is always looking to walk opponents onto his straight left. His main problem is a lack of heart and is likely to go down at the first sign of danger.
Anthony Joshua W KO 1
Whatever happens this promises to be a great night. If Groves wins the main event he could be a world champion for a long time. If Froch wins it sets up his dream of huge bouts in Las Vegas against the likes of Julio Chavez Jnr and Gennady Golovkin. We could see the new breed of Super Middleweight in DeGale or Gonzales coming through and all fights are extremely competitive. I won’t be betting the mortgage on my predictions and since I couldn’t get a ticket I’m looking forward to sitting back with a few beers and enjoying a great night of boxing on May 31st 2014.
- Anthony Joshua vs. Zhilei Zhang in China interests Hearn
- Heavyweight division needs Deontay Wilder as champion
- Andy Ruiz sounding desperate, asks Joshua & Wilder to face him next
- Frank Warren says Joshua vs. Wilder not happening, wants AJ to fight Dubois