Wembley Stadium will be filled to capacity again this weekend but there will be no footballs nor goalposts in sight because 80,000 boxing fans are taking over the national stadium for the biggest all-British fight in decades.
Carl Froch is the IBF and WBA super-middleweight champion intent on proving that the premature ninth round stoppage against George Groves last November should not have resulted in this rematch because the young pretender was about to be knocked spark out anyway.
That bitter encounter generated so much controversy that a rematch was compulsory.
The referee that electric night in Nottingham, Howard Foster, was only acting in Groves’s best interest, but the plucky Londoner had knocked Froch down in the first round and was giving him plenty of trouble until the ending. Groves was furious with Foster as he waved it off, protesting vehemently.
New York’s Charlie Fitch will referee this time.
Froch admitted post-fight that he allowed Groves’s constant baiting to affect his performance and he took him too lightly. This time Groves has been less verbal but still far too irritating for the champ’s liking, even playing with a Rubik’s cube at a press conference, inferring it was more interesting than listening to Froch.
Froch insists he will retire if he loses this one, yet is so convinced that wont be the case that after winning this, his 12th straight world title bout, he says he wants a dream match in Las Vegas, ideally against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Froch, 36, has only lost twice in 34 bouts – outpointed by Andre Ward and Mikkel Kessler – two outstanding champs. He contemplated retiring after those losses.
But by putting them into perspective, reasoning that Ward is still undefeated and may one day be a legend, especially if he remains unbeaten throughout his career, Froch continued.
Froch outpointed Kessler in a rematch and may go for a rubber match against his friend who he has invited with his family to stay with his own family at his newly built mansion in Nottingham after this weekend.
“I’m not that interested in fighting Ward again, but if it was a massive fight, it is potentially the only other one that could happen in Las Vegas other than Chavez,” Froch said.
“I would then have to seriously consider it. That would be the ultimate, beating Ward, avenging my defeat to him, going out at the top in Vegas.”
The Froch loss was the first setback for Groves in a 20-fight career and this time he is adamant that he will knock Froch out in three rounds. It sounds more like wishful thinking than committed intent.
Froch has a solid chin, severely tested at the highest level that has never let him down. Groves looks incapable of ending the fight early.
Many in the boxing business are tipping Groves, 26, to pull off an upset again as he did in outpointing heavy favorite and arch rival from their amateur days, James “Chunky” DeGale, the 2008 Olympic gold medallist.
Their bitter contest in the pros three years ago had many similarities to this one. DeGale was expected to overwhelm his fellow Londoner who defied predictions and never showed any signs of wilting.
Stronger and more experienced Groves may now be but Froch, never a shirker in the gym, has trained like a man possessed and will keep his emotions in check for this one. The likelihood is that Froch will stop Groves around the tenth or 11th round – and this time the finish will leave no room for debate.
On the Froch-Groves undercard is London Olympic Games super-heavyweight gold medallist Anthony Joshua who faces Matt Legg.
Joshua boxes for the sixth time as a pro and aims to take his KO record to all six, with them all inside the first two rounds.