Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has long demonstrated an uncanny ability to get into the head of his opposition, or even the media, in an attempt to deflect attention away from his team. With Lee Froch, dual super middleweight world titlist Carl has a member of his camp who is diverting column inches away from the controversial outcome of the first match-up with challenger George Groves and onto himself.
When the first fight was booked for November last year, Groves detractors suggested the Londoner did not have the necessary experience at elite level, however, as both men engaged in their press obligations during the build-up of their Manchester tussle, it appeared Froch lost a mental edge – even seemingly on the verge of breaking down on national television as he failed to control the adrenaline, the emotions, of a youthful and enthusiastic challenger explaining to him just how he was going to outbox him and out-power him.
Of course, for the vast majority of rounds at the Phones4U Arena in Lancashire, Groves did just that – he even had the champion on the canvas in the very first round in what was arguably the shock moment in British boxing for 2013 – and was the victim of what American audiences term a ‘British stoppage’ when referee Howard John Foster pulled the Saint from the contest in the ninth round.
Now the rematch has been organised for May 31 at the most high profile venue Matchroom Sports head of boxing Eddie Hearn could have booked, Wembley Stadium in front of an estimated 80,000 fans, the pre-fight chatter could be about an imminent changing of the guard… a new heir to a 12 stones throne steeped in British history going back from Froch, to Joe Calzaghe, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Herol Graham.
One need only look at the footage from the first fight to see Groves has the power to hurt Froch, he also has the ability to out-box him, all he needs is to stay disciplined and there may be no moment of madness from a man who perhaps had one too many Fosters, who was even cited by the IBF to have ‘misread’ the situation.
Froch may also have had an off night. A fully-motivated Cobra is a dangerous thing… something he may not have been four months ago, by his own admission, and a state of mind he has already employed in order to give Groves a beating so efficient that the room of doubt that exists due to the first brawl may be sufficiently removed.
“The last time I have felt this mentally switched on, focused, happy and confident was before I fought Lucian Bute, and we all know what happened there,” warned Froch, reminiscing over his 2012 stuffing of the erstwhile seemingly unstoppable Canadian, whom he destroyed in five one-sided rounds in a triumph so resounding that Bute has not been the same ever since – akin to Calzaghe’s thumping of one-time American hype-job Jeff Lacy.
That not many have been focusing on the age gap between Froch, 36, and Groves, 25, the fact that it is in the latter’s manor: “We’re here in Wembley, my home city,” said Groves recently. “Carl has to travel here from Nottingham and fight me in front of my home fans,” or that few advantages have been given to Saint George despite his successes in the first bout, speaks highly of the effectiveness of Lee Froch.
Lee, like Groves’ favourite football team Chelsea, has wittingly or unwittingly, entered into mind-game psychology.
Even though Chelsea lead the Premier League table – and looked likely to since the start of 2014 – manager Jose Mourinho seemed loathe to acknowledge his own side as favourites and instead attempted to encumber Manchester City with that tag while consistently reminding Arsenal adversary Arsene Wenger of his trophyless run… a run that would have gotten him fired had he endured such a period of failure at any of the clubs he has bossed – Real Madrid, Internazionale, FC Porto.
Lee Froch has taken heat away from Carl Froch by doing the trash-talk himself.
Trainer/father Angel Garcia is often the mouth-piece for his fighter/son Danny Garcia. Angel is fiery, while Danny is calm. Angel attracts interest, the pre-fight headlines, thus allowing Danny to focus on the fight.
This is no different.
Lee, in the words of an ITV journalist, has been doing the talking for Carl and thus far, it’s seemingly worked, yet the effectiveness of any such tactic can only truly be assessed once the final bell has been heard on May 31. If Lee continues to stand by brother Carl’s side and do the berating of Groves for him, making George focus on him rather than Carl, then Carl must get on with the job at hand to get into the frame of mind he wasn’t in for the first Groves bout and was for Bute.
If he can’t, there may not be a Foster to provide him with a repeat respite this time around.