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I'm going to be blogging all week about the Carl Froch-George Groves rematch, as well as tweeting scores and photos from Wembley on Saturday night from my twitter account @boxianajournal. For my latest post, I thought it would be interesting to take another look at the first fight between these two pugilists, which took place on Saturday 23 November 2013 in Manchester. So I called youtube up onto my browser (what would boxing fans do without it?) and watched the fight again in its entirety. Out of habit, I also scored the bout as I went along.
Here's my thoughts and scores for rounds 1 through 5. 6-9 will follow later ...
Round 1: Groves' advantage in hand-speed is clear from the start. He looks fully focused throughout the round, whereas Froch looks unusually hesitant. Groves' jab keeps Froch quiet and subdued. In the closing seconds of the round, Groves tags Froch with a huge right. I'd forgotten just how hard the shot was and, when viewed in slow motion, it looks like Carl was close to being out cold, his eyes closing worryingly. I'd also forgotten how shaky Froch was when he gets up from the canvas, his legs wobble like jelly and he has to lean against the ropes for reassurance. On reflection, it's something of a miracle he survived beyond this and the next round.
Froch 8-10 Groves (8-10 overall)
Round 2: Froch still looks like he hasn't recovered from the shock of the first round. As he often does, he holds his left too low and gets repeatedly tagged by Groves' right. George's constant aggressive feinting and sharpness exudes confidence, whereas Carl looks stiff and awkward, and his jab lacks any authority, although he does have some success when the two engage toe to toe.
Froch 9-10 Groves (17-20 overall)
Round 3: Groves is in total command for the first two minutes of the round, slipping off the ropes to evade a Froch lunge, and moments later scoring with a double jab. With around a minute left, Froch roars back with his best passage of the fight so far, backing Groves on to the ropes and scoring with clubbing hooks and body shots. However Groves counters with shots of how own, notably a left hook, and rides out the storm to take the round.
Froch 9-10 Groves (26-30 overall)
Round 4: Groves boxes smartly, scoring with hurtful jabs and well-timed rights, while Froch eats leather. Carl attempts to bully George to the ropes, but again it is the Londoner who appears to land the heavier shots with an impressive left-right combination. The round ends with Froch receiving a stern talking to for hitting on the break.
Froch 9-10 Groves (35-40 overall)
Round 5: Now this is interesting. Groves has been maintaining throughout the build-up to the second fight that he swept the first six rounds of the first contest, but it ain't so. For me Carl won the fifth fairly handily. He looks to have found a better rhythm and finally to have shaken off the hesitancy that plagued him earlier, and the effects of that big right hand. He does a better job of evading Groves' hitherto imperious jab and destructive right, and scores with some impressive two-handed flurries. In retrospect, was this round something of a turning point for the Nottingham warrior?
Froch 10-9 Groves (45-49 overall)
I'll be back later with thoughts on round 6 onwards, and, of course, that controversial stoppage...
Luke G. Williams