Froch settles Groves grudge with ‘best ever punch’

Carl Froch retained his IBF and WBA super-middleweight titles after knocking out George Groves. Picture: Getty
Carl Froch retained his IBF and WBA super-middleweight titles after knocking out George Groves. Picture: Getty
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Carl Froch says the crushing right-hand blow that knocked out George Groves in the eighth round at Wembley on Saturday was the biggest and most satisfying punch of his career.

Froch settled the simmering rivalry between the pair and retained his IBF and WBA super-middleweight titles with a breathtaking hit that left Groves crumpled on the floor in front of 80,000 fans.

“That was the best punch of my life,” Froch said. “You define a good punch from what it means, and what that meant was the whole George Groves saga and the history of the fight came to an end.

“People will look back in years to come and say that was the right hand that finished it all off.”

Froch added: “I just threw it, I didn’t really try to knock him out. I didn’t load up, I just threw the punch and just landed it lovely.

“It was just a lovely pear of a shot and it closed the show and that’s what world-class fighters do.”

Froch had come under heavy scrutiny since beating Groves with a controversial ninth-round stoppage in November. The London challenger claimed he had dominated that battle and predicted at the final press conference on Thursday that he would knock Froch out with a left hook.

Froch admits that the hype surrounding the legitimacy of his first victory made the win at Wembley all the more rewarding.

“It’s one of the most satisfying nights of my life – I’ve had the weight of the world on my shoulders,” Froch said.

“I’ve had George Groves in the back of my ear hole for the last year because he was in my ear for the Kessler fight in May 2013. It’s now May 2014.

“I’ve boxed Groves twice in a year and I’ve just not heard the end of it.”

At 36, Froch is ten years Groves’ senior – and the Nottingham veteran admits the fight was always destined to define his reputation.

“It was a legacy fight – I’ve had such a long, fantastic career, I’ve been involved in so many top-level fights,” Froch said. “But I said my legacy was at stake and it was, because unfortunately in boxing people remember you for your last fight.”

He continued: “My career would have been over – I would have retired if I had lost tonight. In the biggest night in British fighting history post-war, I didn’t want to be remembered as a loser.”

After the fight, Froch offered Groves some words of consolation.

“I told him not to go home and be too down and out or go on a downward spiral, because you’re a great fighter – you were in that fight up until that point,” Froch explained.

“I punch very hard and unfortunately I caught you with a shot that finished you off and that’s boxing.

“It happens to some of the great fighters – you get hit with one shot and George hasn’t quite got that toughness you need at the top, top level.

“I said that from the start – he’s a good fighter, he’s got quick hands, he’s skilful and he’s done a few bits as an amateur. But if I fight George Groves ten times I beat him ten times.

“That’s not being big-headed, I’ve got ingredients you can’t teach. You’re born with them – toughness and heart and a mindset and a determination – you can’t train that.”

Froch added: “They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – that could kill him. I shouldn’t use that word but it could finish him off or he could get determination from that and come back better.

“It’s down to his character now, it’s up to him. But who am I to give him advice? I don’t think he likes me.”

Groves taunted Froch throughout the build-up to the fight, but the 26-year-old was magnanimous in defeat.

“Carl Froch is a strong, seasoned world champion and there’s no quit in him,” Groves said. “Fair play to Carl, he got the job done and was the better man on the night.

“I’m still 26 years old and I just boxed in front of 80,000 fans. I didn’t get the result I wanted but I was boxing well and I’m sure I’m going to have a long boxing career ahead of me.

“I of course plan to be world champion still – and plan to be in the not-too-distant future.”

James DeGale earned the chance to face Froch after beating Brandon Gonzales in a fourth-round stoppage on the Wembley undercard.

DeGale produced a dominant display against Gonzales and the victory means he is now the mandatory IBF challenger to the super-middleweight title.

DeGale, who won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, came out of the traps fast in the first round with two early hits and continued to dominate the opening exchanges with some excellent sequences.

Gonzales seemed to gather himself after a bruising start and was able to shut down DeGale’s space with greater effect in round two and three.

The 28-year-old Londoner opened up midway through round four, however, with a series of explosive punches which sent Gonzales crashing to the floor with three big hits.

The American rose to his feet however he was unable to buy himself the time he needed.

DeGale again unleashed with three more shots to Gonzales’ head and, as his opponent wobbled, the fight was stopped in the Londoner’s favour.

DeGale said: “I did exactly what I wanted to do tonight, which was put in a performance.

“In front of nearly 80,000 at Wembley, it’s fantastic. The atmosphere is brilliant. I’m going to have to watch it back but I hit him with good, clean shots and he was hurt.

“I’m 100 per cent ready for a world title shot now. That was a final eliminator so that’s it, I’m mandated to fight for the IBF.”

Meanwhile, Anthony Joshua powered his way to six wins from six professional fights with a first-round knockout of Matt Legg.

The Olympic super-heavyweight champion is navigating his way into the paid ranks and had little trouble at Wembley. Also on the undercard of the Froch against Groves rematch, the 24-year-old knocked Legg out with an uppercut after just one minute and 23 seconds.

Legg swung wildly, at least having a go at his accomplished opponent in the early rounds.

He was quickly punished, however, as an uppercut sent him crumbling to the canvas and unable to beat referee Steve Gray’s count.

While the shot did not land as cleanly as Joshua would have liked, the Watford man’s raw power was more than enough to see off the older man.

“It’s brilliant to fight at Wembley on a night like this with all these people here,” Joshua said.

“It’s a small ring and I knew I could land on him.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn revealed afterwards that former world title challenger Matt Skelton could be Joshua’s next opponent.