The Groves Gameplan

By Ted Spoon on May 30, 2014
The Groves Gameplan
It’s not in Froch’s interests to be cute, and it’s not in George Groves' to cheapen his style.

Everyone likes to make analogies with granite and iron, but we’re ultimately dealing with flesh and bone; materials that deteriorate en route to becoming dust…

The ticks are getting louder by the minute. Fans are wilting arguments down to nostril flairs as a sign of unease. Sky Sports are milking it. In fairness to the latter, they have every right to. This coming Saturday boxing will do something it hasn’t in a long time and escape the PPV wormhole. Your average geezer, the type who still draws a blank when you say Manny Pacquiao, is lowering his paper and trying to remember what channel box office is. 80,000 have already guaranteed their spot inside Wembley Stadium, a figure which recalls Dempsey-Carpentier, when boxing first punched its way into the millions. At 10 pm the football pitch will be swamped, save for a tiny speck in the middle where two men will go at it. Americans have the privilege of watching fireworks in the afternoon.

Carl Froch vs. George Groves II has tickled the nation, a sequel that needed to happen and promises to deliver. It’s a milestone in British boxing. There shouldn’t be any cause to fret over PPV numbers, and everyone should get their money’s worth. Chewing over this grand occasion I hope it’s a revival, not a one-off, and George Groves is the right man to crest a new wave of Olympic talent.

If the young challenger from Hammersmith, eleven years Carl’s junior, is able to underscore the wrongdoing of the first fight with a dominant show, his star will climb higher than Froch’s has ever been in 12 world title fights. Andre Ward becomes a mega-fight. British boxing welcomes a new dawn.

The settings are perfect for George. He has all the experience of the first fight, none of the scarring. Since Howard Foster made his silly move in the ninth, speculation on a rematch hasn’t stopped. Recently one man cut through the waffle. The difference between victory and defeat may boil down to one thing, something Adam Booth brought up — whether his former pupil gets “greedy.”

The best George Groves we ever saw craved more than a win. His advantages in movement and speed were overcome by a will to destroy. Prior to getting hurt in the last round, George uncharacteristically threw himself off balance with fully-loaded shots. He was giving Carl rope instead of reeling it in with clever boxing.   

Given the success he had, and inexperience on the world stage, it can be forgiven.

Groves needs to cool his emotions and tighten up. A knockout blow isn’t required to sting Froch. The challenger wants to command ring center, snap the jab and keep that right cocked for the inevitable rush once frustration sets in. Carl might have the first say this time around, but with his opponent wielding the more explosive mitts, common sense tells you Froch will reconfigure after eating a few. From then on the plan will compose of picking his spots and gradually turning up the heat.

And this possible scenario brings us to what appears be the failsafe in the Froch gameplan. As Carl himself emphasized, “George Groves hasn’t got twelve championship rounds in him.” The champion has arguably conceded the technical battle before it’s begun, and that’s why Groves needs to blow it wide open.

The jab will return with a thud, popping Carl when he leans forward and doubling up when he backs off. What’s missing is a left hook. It only made cameos last time. Hooking off the jab and firing the odd lead will not only puzzle Froch but conserve petrol. It’s easier to flick. You also maintain good posture. Furthermore it will sharpen the honey punch. Swinging a right off a hook is a great way to turn you into the blow, chin up. In the event Carl gets buzzed it’s vital to hunt in proportion to wobbles. The sixth, while a fantastic round, saw a boxer-puncher turn slugger. It’s not in Froch’s interests to be cute, and it’s not in George’s to cheapen his style.

Invariably he wants to keep it at long range. Froch makes his move spontaneously, punching from the hip. There is no sense in trying to fight his way out of mid-range. George has aired his concerns about rough tactics though he can’t bank on Carl playing nice, so locking arms would be wise. It will again frustrate the champion and Groves’ fair complexion will be spared — purple blotches are encouraging.

Between holding his ground, sticking the jab, slamming home counters and disabling the rough stuff, Groves has a clearer route to victory than Matchroom’s aging warrior.

But something tells me this fight will go off-road again.

Trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick has called five. Groves three. If they’re not blowing smoke ala James DeGale then either they’re underselling Froch, or the dangerous challenger is positive he can blast him into retirement. A swift finish isn’t out of the question and there are a growing number of brave bets popping up on Facebook.

Having capsized and nearly drowned last November, Carl’s assured us that we were observing “the worst Carl Froch.” I’m not sold. To train as thoroughly as he does, logic points towards a boogieman. The only other time he fought somebody who could outbox and hurt him (Jermain Taylor) he got cracked with that same counter-cross. This vulnerability is akin to Ali’s for left hooks. It’s permanent.

There can be no doubt George was in trouble when the original ended, but the stoppage turned a blind eye to the condition Carl was in, breathing heavily, marked up. As he took various interviews afterwards you could see the extent of his injuries. Most notable was a swelling on the left side. A fat lip affected his speech. Everyone likes to make analogies with granite and iron, but we’re ultimately dealing with flesh and bone; materials that deteriorate en route to becoming dust.

Being convinced that toughness will bail you out is a dangerous game to play for a man pushing 37. 

Answering one of the many faceless, Carl recently said “It’s called boxing for a reason,” scalding his crude ways, but in order to win most believe he needs to contradict himself, bite down on that mouthpiece and keeping swinging until there’s rubble. It’s worked pretty well so far, and if that basic yet magical ability to endure is what decides an historic night, I trust George will join me, alongside 80,000 noisy fans, in saluting the better man.

What a moment that would be. 

Provided it doesn’t vanish after smelling salts.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Froch v Groves II - The War of Words

Froch v Groves Facebook Q&A - Part One

Froch v Groves Facebook Q&A - Part Two

Carl Froch vs George Groves Full Fight HD

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  1. Thresher 02:25pm, 05/31/2014

    Marvelous outcome.

  2. Pete The Sneak 02:14pm, 05/31/2014

    WOW!!! What a KO…  Youngsters, respect your elders!! Froch Rules!!...Peace

  3. Darrell 04:54pm, 05/30/2014

    Gaaarrnnn Froch, stick it up young George!!

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 01:30pm, 05/30/2014

    I say Groves missed his calling….he would make a brilliant disinformation agent for MI5…..he’s still young though and there’s always time for second career after boxing.

  5. Barry 11:16am, 05/30/2014

    Groves was dominant in their first fight, which i thought was unjustly stopped. i will be surprised if that fight has not taken quite a lot out of Froch. Groves seems to get under Froch’s skin outside the ring, and has no fear of him inside the ring. At 37yrs of age i cannot see Froch being able to make the adjustments needed to prevent Groves landing Left-hooks in this rematch. i have always thought Froch was very beatable by any fighter who could land a left-hook, i see this as a fairly easy KO victory for George Groves, as Froch was incredibly fortunate winner of their first fight.

  6. Ted Sares 11:04am, 05/30/2014

    Says Groves,  “I think Carl will make too many fundamental mistakes and he’ll explode, then implode and he’ll get hit with shots early and he won’t get up. Paddy [Fitzpatrick] is saying ’five’. I am saying ’three’.”

    Says Froch,  “I’m going to be setting a ferocious pace. This is why I want him to come out and be a man of his word and say he’s going to try and do me in three rounds, perfect. This is what I want, so do that George. If you’re coming out for three rounds, come and bring it to me. I’m going to take centre of the ring and I’ll meet you there, but I don’t think he’ll do that. We’ll see what happens.”


    Says Groves, “Froch is a caveman; he’s just not good enough.”


    Says Froch,  “He [Groves] believes his own nonsense. He cannot stay with me for 12 rounds. He’s not tough enough.”


    Says Groves, ““This time he has time to adjust to knowing that I might tell him what I’m going to do. So next time we come face to face, he might think, ‘Well, is he going to do it this time or is he not? Does it matter? Is he going to do it anyway?’ And I probably will reveal a little more in the build-up, just to torture him.”


    Says Froch, “The angry, aggressive, spiteful, bitter, war-hardened, tough, strong, mentally determined dangerous fighter, brutal warrior - that’s what I am. You’ll see that guy turn up on 31 May I promise you that because I am ready.”


    Says groves, “…You tell a man what you’re going to do to him two nights before you get in the ring with him, so he’s got two days to stew about it then probably totally forget about it. But at the end of the first round he sits down and thinks, ‘He was right.’ Then he thinks, ‘What else has he told me that I haven’t paid attention to?’


    Says Froch, It may have been stopped early, but had it gone on the result would’ve been the same. ...I’m in a much better place. There’s nothing he can say that is going to wind me up. It’s impossible.


    Says Groves, “He’ll say he’s a ’championship fighter’ he’s done 12 rounds several times before I think he’ll come out do his best for six rounds, hang on, do his best, get a bit of confidence, and think I’ll blow up.”


  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:42am, 05/30/2014

    Froch says Groves won’t get him with a left hook because he’ll just keep his right guard high…..didn’t say if his left would still be down at knee level as always though.

  8. Ted Spoon 10:19am, 05/30/2014

    Cheers, Mike. It definitely is a tough fight to call. A big misconception is that Froch cannot be knocked out. I would not be surprised if Groves does him in the first half.

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:14am, 05/30/2014

    Ted Sares-“don’t go to the reefer”....great advice….which reminds me….Groves kind of reminds me at least facially of Dave O’Brien in Reefer Madness. Your posted prediction came dangerously close to being a short and sweet article.

  10. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:18am, 05/30/2014

    George has done lots and lots of talking and has outdone Teddy Atlas in dissecting Carl’s “ugly style” to a T….all of which leads me to believe that he is doing lots and lots of thinking…..always a dangerous thing for an intelligent athlete…..just ask Wladimir.

  11. Ted Sares 08:03am, 05/30/2014


    The first time I saw George Groves in the ring was in 2010 when he stopped Charles “The Crusader” Adamu (17-4) in the sixth round to win the Commonwealth (British Empire) super middleweight title and I was extremely impressed.  Groves was just 8-0 at the time and the beating he gave Charles essentially ended the Ghanaian’s career. Adamu had gone the distance with WBC super middleweight champion Froch., but Groves used heavy hands and fine technique to settle the Crusader’s hash.

    Carl lacks fine technique and fights ugly (some say in a non-cerebral manner), but he is tough as nails and is very good at winning.  Indeed, he is in a fight until the last second of the last round as Jermain Taylor found out at the 2.46 mark of the twelfth round in their 2009 thriller. 

    This time around, I see Froch winning inside the distance. Last time he was surprised; this time he knows what to expect and while George is a heavy load, Froch has more to lose going forward.  Unless Father Time has caught up with him, Froch will be more physically and mentally prepared for this fight.

    I think The Saint’s best chance is to come out fast and make it a fire fight ala Hearns-Hagler or Benn-Barkley. We now know that Groves starts fast. But Froch does not. Thus,  if the Cobra can withstand an early attack and then take George into the late rounds, his superior experience in title fights and his solid stamina should prove the difference as he closes the show around the tenth or eleventh round even though Groves seems to be expecting that strategy.

    But as they say, don’t go to the reefer.

  12. Mike Casey 05:55am, 05/30/2014

    My gut feeling tells me that Groves had to get it done the first time around. That was his chance and he failed - whatever one thinks of the stoppage. Froch to win this one around the 7th round. Good article, Ted!

  13. Clarence George 05:47am, 05/30/2014

    A bit overhyped, I think, but that won’t stop me from making a prediction:  Froch by 11th-round TKO.

  14. Pete The Sneak 04:33am, 05/30/2014

    Spidey…Your spider senses must be abandoning you…lol..(sorry dude, had to say that)...Should be a great fight and of course I never say never, but I think Froch will eventually catch up to the youngster and finish him off, especially if the fight goes into the very late rounds…Man, 80,000 at Wembley? That should be one super duper electric atmosphere there…80,000…Yeah, Boxing is dead alright…Peace.

  15. Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man 03:07am, 05/30/2014

    Groves all the way!

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