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.
The decision to pull George Groves out of his world title contest versus Carl Froch on Saturday, November 23 may be one that haunts referee Howard Foster. Groves, for much of the fight, was boss… the ring general, the daddy, yet the first series of punches that appeared to trouble him, he was withdrawn by the third man. The box office presenters were indignant at the decision, but how did the wider boxing industry react?…
WBA/IBF super middleweight world title challenger George Groves lost his challenge for Carl Froch’s unified belts on Saturday, November 23 but won over the fans who fervently booed him on his way to the Phones4U Arena ring, Manchester, as well as winning the event and international acclaim. The story of the fight, though, was the cruel manner in which he was halted by an all-too-eager referee…
Tony Bellew and Isaac Chilemba will fight again in an official final eliminator for the WBC light heavyweight title on the sold-out Carl Froch vs Mikkel Kessler bill at the O2 Arena in London on May 25. The pair clashed at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on March 30 with the contest ending in a draw, and now Bellew says he intends to grab his second chance with both hands.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to put things right,” said Bellew. “I have to get my head down and work doubly hard in the weeks ahead of the fight to make sure the job gets done properly this time around.
“I’ve had a bit of stick but I can take it and I’ve learned from what happened. It’ll be a different fight this time around – the first fight should’ve been a great one but it just didn’t work out that way. I won’t be making predictions this time, just concentrating on working hard and beating Isaac to land that world title shot.”
Chilemba travels to England once more to tackle Bellew, and the Malawian intends to shock the Scouser on the biggest stage of all: “For most opportunity knocks once, I’ve been fortunate and with my blessing of a second chance I will not leave my future in anyone else’s hands. I believe I won the first fight but that’s now irrelevant – but I will be winning the second fight.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn added: “I’m over the moon to add this fight to a special night of boxing. Both men have a score to settle and I take my hat off to them for agreeing the rematch so quickly. I think you will see a different kind of fight this time, no one will leave it to chance and both need to make a statement this time around.”
IBF super middleweight titlist and 35-year-old Nottingham native Carl Froch (30-2-0, 22ko) has joined Premiership footballers such as Darren Bent and London 2012 athletes to appear in an HIV awareness campaign launching this month in East London.
The Saving Lives Avengers will feature in posters and leaflets across The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel to promote an innovative offering of routine HIV testing to all patients having blood tests taken in the emergency department. The campaign is a collaboration between Barts Health NHS Trust and Saving Lives, a national HIV awareness charity which enjoys the support of many sporting stars.
The Saving Lives Avengers aim to educate patients and raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and IBF super middleweight champion Froch thinks the role is an important one: “If people like me who are in the public eye can attract attention to a topic which people might otherwise ignore, that can only be a good thing,” he says.
Among the Saving Lives Ambassadors is London-born England and Aston Villa striker, Darren Bent. “You hear a lot of silly claims about taking a test damaging your chances of getting insurance or a mortgage, but it’s not true. Saving Lives is raising awareness about HIV, how we can control it, and how people can live a long and happy life.”
Nationwide, one in four of those with HIV are unaware they are infected, and the area served by The Royal London has an estimated HIV population five times higher than the national average (6 in every 1000 people). The new effort is designed to diagnose the undiagnosed.
“HIV can be symptomless for a long time,” explains Dr Chloe Orkin, the Barts Health HIV Consultant behind the routine testing plan. “That means it’s very easy for people not to be diagnosed until it’s too late for today’s life-saving treatments to have their best effect. People are still dying of HIV in the UK – but only because they test too late.”
The offer of routine testing is unusual, and aims to show that in high-prevalence areas wider HIV testing can have an impact on the numbers of people living with undiagnosed HIV. Currently, patients and their doctors must specifically request a test.
“There’s still a lot of stigma around HIV,” explains Dr Steve Taylor, HIV Specialist at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and Medical Director of Saving Lives. “One of the things our campaigns and sporting advocates help do is correct some commonly-held out-dated myths that perpetuate this stigma which make the lives of people living with HIV very difficult.
Getting tested, looking after your sexual health, education and prevention are what it’s all about. If people have taken risks and by that I simply mean having unprotected sex; then there is every reason to get tested it could save your life.”
London 2012 medal-winning hockey player Sally Walton adds: “Without the test, you run the risk of passing on HIV to your nearest and dearest, and even to potential children through pregnancy. Today’s treatments can help you live a long, healthy life – so there’s no reason not to get a test done.”
A similar campaign conducted at the end of 2012 in Birmingham was cited by 16% of 1800 clinic attendees as part of the reason for taking the test – half of those respondents had no other exposure to sexual health messages in the previous 3 months.
Dan Hartland, Director of Operations for Saving Lives said “We would like to make our Saving Lives Avengers resources available to every City council and Hospital in the country. In this way the hugely expensive costs of such a multimedia campaign featuring stars such as these could be shared and lessened at a time when NHS budgets are very tight, but there is still an urgent need for a new HIV awareness campaign.”
The pilot campaign runs throughout the month of April at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
Alan Dawson – London
Carl Froch‘s first defence of his IBF super middleweight world title was as swift as it was brutal as he knocked American challenger Yusaf Mack out with an acute body punch in the third round of their confrontation at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday, November 17. Froch’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports, wants only the elite for Froch in 2013 and spoke of potential rematches with Lucian Bute, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward.
Official verdict: Froch by 3rd Rd TKO.
Boxing with the Stars and Stripes on his trunks and adopting his trademark slick style with his left mitt low, Mack (31-5-2, 17ko) appeared unfazed at the rowdy reception provided by the partisan English crowd. However, like Lucian Bute in May, Mack had no answer when he was bum-rushed by Froch (30-2-0, 22ko) and suffered a flash knockdown in the first round before looking unsteady and ready to fall a second time mere moments from the bell.
Upon replay, though, the knockdown may have been aided by leg entanglement, but Mack’s body language when on his stool between rounds was that of a man who was shocked at the effectiveness of the bombardment he was forced to endure in the opening three minutes.
In the second round, Froch, 35, varied his jabbing to the mouth and to the gut. Midway through the stanza, he threw combinations to the sides of the Philadelphian’s body and, when Mack had his back to the ropes, there was a fan-friendly kerfuffle as both men swapped heavy leather, explosive bombs and egotistical smiles. While Froch got the better of each argument, Mack was no slouch when it came to retaliation and enjoyed most of his success with his left cross.
Froch worked behind his under-rated jab in the third round and his focus was mostly upstairs as Mack’s adapted Philly-Shell guard prevented access to the body. When Mack let his hands go, though, he left his body unprotected and this became his undoing as he was felled for a second time with a tortuous blow just above the belt-line. The decisive flurry included a right to the rib cage, a left to the body and a left to the skull before Mack submitted to his knees and required paramedic attention – perhaps due to broken, or at least severely battered and bruised, ribs.
“I get my body in A-level condition,” said the ageless Froch to Sky Sports 1 following the official announcement of his win. “If anyone comes in below par – that is what happens to them. Physically I feel at my best, I’m smashing my personal bests in training. Mentally, I’m dealing with these opponents. He didn’t come out sharp, I found my range early and them body shots would have hurt.”
Promoter Hearn spoke of Froch’s future: “[Bute and his management have] got to decide whether they want the fight. We’re contractually obliged to go over there [but] I don’t think there is one super middleweight out there – Andre Ward included – who can beat Carl Froch in Nottingham. Bute, [Mikkel] Kessler and Ward. That’s who we want in 2013 and the more fights in Nottingham the better.”
Alan Dawson – London
Light heavyweight contender Tony Bellew hopes to follow in the footsteps of Matchroom Sports stablemate and welterweight campaigner Kell Brook when it comes to guaranteeing himself a mandatory shot at a world title. Bellew, 29, collides with fellow 175lber Roberto Bolonti on Saturday, November 17 and believes a win will act as a springboard to an eventual attempt at claiming the WBC belt, currently held by Chad Dawson.
“I want to put the pressure on someone like Chad Dawson to face me,” Bellew (18-1-0, 12ko) said ahead of his Capital FM Arena test in Nottingham.
Known for his concussive punch power, his ability to adapt in the ring and for giving countryman Nathan Cleverly a competitive battle for the latter’s WBO title last year, Bellew believes his reputation within Britain is working against him abroad as he is now regarded to be “maximum risk/minimum reward”. He added: “I am not a lucrative match for people to face.” As a result, the likeable Liverpudlian believes he has “to force one of these champions” into a fight.
“It might not be a WBC, it might be an IBF challenge to Tavoris Cloud. I don’t know which it is going to be but all I want to do is become a mandatory challenger, very similar to the way Kell Brook has done it.
“Roberto Bolonti is another step in the right direction, it is a WBC eliminator and it is for the Silver title. He is number five with the WBC and this should propel one of us into the top three in my opinion, so I am hoping to get fast tracked to the WBC.”
The light heavyweight landscape is one dominated by the presence of a quartet of North Americans including the returning former Ring Magazine champion Jean Pascal, heavy-hitting Tavoris Cloud and veteran ring king Bernard Hopkins. It is Chad Dawson, though, who Bellew ranks atop the lot.
“I believe Chad Dawson is the best light heavyweight in the world. I know he had the contentious fight with Jean Pascal but I believe he would have stopped Pascal if the fight would have been allowed to carry on, so I think Pascal got really lucky the cut came when it did.
“I do believe that Dawson is the best in the division and aside from him I feel everyone is on a level playing field. Bernard Hopkins, in terms of experience, is up there with Dawson but as an actual fighter I believe Dawson is proven to be the best light heavyweight out there. But I would be happy to fight him.”
If an Anglo-American feud were to develop between Dawson and Bellew, the Englishman would draw confidence from how Bad Chad was defeated by super middleweight lineal champion Andre Ward. He noted: “There is now a blueprint to beat Chad Dawson after what Andre Ward did [knocked him out], so I would be happy to go in there and carry out what Ward did to him.”
Bellew fights Bolonti on the “True Brit” card that is headlined by Carl Froch versus Yusaf Mack.
On The Beak – Admin
Randall Bailey has a chilling message for IBF welterweight world title challenger Devon Alexander: “Even at my worst, I have dropped every southpaw that I’ve fought. Eventually, I’m going to catch up to Devon. And when I do, it’s going to be trouble for him.” The two lock horns in Bailey’s first defence of the belt at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas on September 8.
Full story: The Ring.
A trans-Atlantic battle of heavyweight prospects could be on the cards as the team behind British-Irish phenom Tyson Fury have responded to power-punching American Deontay Wilder’s call-out. Peter Fury, Tyson’s trainer, indicated a March 17 date at Madison Square Garden in New York City could be on the cards should Wilder’s people contact Fury’s promoter.
Full story: Twitter
TMT Promotions, headed by promoter 50 Cent, are set to showcase their debut boxing event on November 17. The card will be a double-header featuring two fighters from The Money Team’s stable. Yuriorkis Gamboa is slated to box Juan Carlos Salgado while Andre Dirrell is matched with Brian Magee.
Full story: Fight Hype
IBF super middleweight belt holder Carl Froch was due to announce the opponent chosen for his first defence of his title today, Monday, but the decision has been postponed until August 28. The date and venue are certain, though, as November 17 and the Capital FM Arena have been chosen.
Full story: World Boxing News
Johnny Nelson introduces the new boxing season in Britain by naming his three “ones to watch” that include Kell Brook, Tony Bellew and Carl Frampton.
Full story: Sky Sports
Rising heavyweight star Seth Mitchell, a former linebacker at Michigan State University, has proclaimed the football field to be more dangerous than inside the squared circle! “I’ve seen more vicious knockouts and concussions [there] than in boxing”.
Full story: Boxing Talk
Fan-friendly flyweight gold medalist Nicola Adams has insisted her wave of good press will not change her and, despite finishing atop of her division in the Olympics a fortnight ago, will resume training and return to the gym in September in order to prepare for the European Championships next year.
Full story: Sporting Life
Reigning WBC super bantamweight king Toshiaki Nishiokia has revealed that he performs better when faced with the greatest of challenges. A statement that perhaps indicates why he was keen to attempt to unify his green belt with Nonito Donaire’s WBO and IBF belts, Nishioka added he will be “fired up most” for the Filipino Flash.
Full story: Japan Times
One last thing…
Giorbis Barthelemy’s nosferatu impression has landed him a decade-long suspension that will likely mean that the 40-year-old southpaw’s prizefighting career has come to a close. Barthelemy was ahead on the scorecards when he bit the neck of Grady Brewer in the fifth round of their Cobb Callergia Centre duel. The Floridian was also charged $10,000 by the Georgia State Athletic Commission.
Full story: World Boxing News
On The Beak – Admin
InterBox and Lucian Bute met with media representatives at the Cage aux Sports restaurant in the Montreal Bell Centre earlier this week. Team InterBox revisited Lucian’s last bout on May 26 and revealed the future plans for Lucian and Carl Froch. Below, is a detailed resume of declarations by Lucian Bute, InterBox president Jean Bedard, Matchroom Boxing president Eddie Hearn and head trainer Stephan Larouche.
- That was not the real Lucian Bute in that Nottingham ring last May, 26. I spent the last few weeks reflecting about what went wrong, what happened, and the only thing that is crystal clear in my mind is that I want my rematch with Carl Froch as soon as possible.
- I am convinced the loss was due to critical errors on my part and that I will beat him.
- I did not use my primary weapons of speed and my jab at all during the fight. I fought Carl Froch’s fight instead of dictating the pace and forcing him to fight my fight.
- It was a bad night for me in Nottingham. A nightmare, really. I lost my IBF belt, my perfect record and I suffered a hard loss.
- I cannot wait to step back into the ring. I am already back at the gym training. I feel fresh, in good spirits, my health is very good and my goal and motivation is to prove to myself and to everyone that [my] last [fight] was just a bad day at the office.
- I do not want to take anything away from Carl Froch’s accomplishment. He was the better man that night. He was hungrier and more motivated and he won. But now I have to look ahead. My promoter Jean Bedard, my coach Stephan Larouche and I have had numerous serious discussions and we have established a plan that I am very comfortable with. In the next two fights I will erase the bad memory from my mind and from the minds of my fans.
- There is no hiding the fact that the result was hard on everyone. But even in defeat, in the locker room after the fight and the days following the loss, I still felt Lucian had the fire in his belly to come back stronger and demand his rematch with Froch.
- Lucian was in my office the morning after his return from Romania to reaffirm his intentions. He looked me straight in the eyes and asked me to set the plan we detailed with him and Stephan in motion.
- In all likelihood Lucian will box in Montreal or Quebec this Fall. However, it is also not out of the question that Lucian make his November ring return in Romania. We are already in discussions with an opponent and have sent them an offer.
- We do have a rematch clause with Matchroom Boxing, which could have been a direct rematch bout no matter the outcome. Matchroom Boxing is a great organisation to work with and I have been speaking to Eddie once or twice a week since [the defeat]. I almost know his number by heart. We decided together that in the interest of effectively promoting the rematch, Lucian and Carl would fight in separate events and that we will coordinate our efforts for both to fight on the same day, in November. We agreed the Bute/Froch rematch would take place on March 16th or March 23rd at the Montreal Bell Centre.
- The Carl Froch v Lucian Bute fight has already gone down as one of the greatest fights in British boxing history. It generated record audiences and a sold-out arena that were treated to what many respected pundit and fighters have described as one of the greatest atmosphere’s ever.
- Carl put in an incredible performance and against all odds recaptured a world title. Both Carl, I and the people of Great Britain have the utmost respect for Lucian for first accepting the challenge to come to England but also the manner in which he accepted defeat.
- Like any fighter, I’m sure Lucian would like an opportunity to avenge this defeat as per our agreement he has the opportunity to try and make that happen. Together with Jean Bedard we have agreed in the interest of both fighters that we will have an ‘interim’ fight and then look to rematch in March 2013. I’m sure this will build into another huge fight and will do record numbers in Canada.
- Team Bute has been analysing all factors and circumstances pertaining to the May 26 bout, including Lucian`s preparation.
- As Lucian confirmed earlier, he is already back in the gym. We want to make sure he stays in great shape.
- We will not be “starting from zero” with Lucian. I want to make it clear to everyone that Lucian did not lose the fight because he was over trained, or not ready. He lost that fight because of several small mistakes that combined gave all the advantage to Carl Froch.
- We are not looking for an “easy touch” for the November fight. We are looking for, and have possibly found, an opponent that will test Lucian and give him a difficult fight. I want Lucian to be tested, to work, and to step out of his comfort zone as well.