SWINDON trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick made no excuses after his boxer George Groves was knocked out by Carl Froch in the pair’s super-middleweight world title fight.
The hugely-anticipated rematch saw around 80,000 fans pack into Wembley Stadium on Saturday night but unlike the controversial finish to the first clash, Froch’s eighth-round knockout was conclusive.
A big Froch right hand abruptly ended Groves’ world title dreams, a punch that Fitzpatrick described as “perfectly-timed”.
It was a crushing blow for Groves, who until then had boxed tactically well after enjoying much success on the counter.
Fitzpatrick remained proud of his boxer and believed Groves was controlling affairs up until Froch’s telling blow.
“It was a beautifully-timed punch,” said Fitzpatrick. “Whether Carl Froch planned to land the punch is another matter, I think he plans attacks, I’m not sure he plans a punch.
“What went wrong was he made a split second call, tried to slip the left and got in the way of a right hand. George said he was complacent.
“He was catching Carl’s long left hook, then he was countering off it, and at that stage when he caught Carl’s long left hook he opened up his shoulder to counter with the hook, as he opened up the shoulder the right hand came through.
“Everything went perfectly well, we had absolutely no excuses, we had a beautiful camp, what can you do? He was fighting well, he was performing well and he got caught with a shot he didn’t see coming.”
Many of the national press scored Froch ahead on points at the end of the seventh round, a view Fitzpatrick disagrees with, although he laughed off suggestions that Froch’s punch was lucky.
He added: “I heard a few people saying it was a lucky punch. It’s surprising how many people turn ignorant. There was nothing lucky about that punch.
“You bow down and give it to the man. I tip my hat to him.
“At the end of the first round it was anybody’s. We didn’t go into this wanting to have a fight, we didn’t want this to take off.
“I didn’t think either man did a lot in that first round.
“I thought George had a comfortable first four rounds. He was making Carl fall short. He hurt Carl. I thought Carl was extremely tense, you could see it from ringside how tense and tentative he was.
“Carl had a good fifth round. I said to George that was the kind of round we didn’t want. I asked him not to back him up and go into the fire but just to to edge him back but don’t take the space away.
“Rounds six and seven was better. He was getting sharper, his shots were more spiteful.
“George should not have been on the ropes. We trained for that all through training camp.
“George was doing fine. It was a good performance, he was coming on beautifully.
“I am not going to pretend there was anything wrong in camp. It was a beautiful camp, physically and emotionally. The better man won.”
For now at least Groves must go back to the drawing board as he plots another route to a world title but Fitzpatrick has faith that his boxer will bounce back.
“I feel disappointed for my fighter,” said Fitzpatrick.
“Overall he had a good performance, he was performing well.
“We couldn’t go into this fight and do the exact same as we did last time because we’d get the exact same results.
“So we had a plan for the preparation to be able to do 12 or less and then as we got closer to the finishing line to start picking up and doing that bit extra as you go and then Carl did what champions do and he deserves all the respect.
“George got hit with one shot last night and that changed the fight, the same as Lennox Lewis did against (Hasim) Rahman, he came back in the next fight against Rahman and did it.
“When Nigel (Benn) lost to (Michael) Watson he got humiliated but he went away and then came back and that was before the fights with Chris Eubank and Steve Collins.
“These things happen, it is how you regroup afterwards.
“It’s the same as Lennox Lewis,George didn’t take a beating last night.
“If that was roles reversed from the first fight then I would be sitting here with a lot of questions marks.
“I stand by what I said that we had a good camp.”