FROCH-GROVES II: Simply unbelievable night at Wembley
5:30am Monday 2nd June 2014
By Steve Butt
5:30am Monday 2nd June 2014
By Steve Butt
UNBELIEVABLE. That’s pretty much the only way I can describe Saturday night’s British super fight at Wembley.
Even from mid afternoon there was a buzz around the car park at Wembley Stadium as the 80,000 crowd began to filter in for Froch-Groves II.
As I queued up with the rest of the world’s media waiting to be shown to our press seats, there was an excited anticipation about what was to follow.
Not a single soul in the stadium had experienced a boxing event of this magnitude so we were all entering the unknown.
I was struggling to contain my excitement so god only knows what Swindon trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick, his boxer George Groves and rival Carl Froch were feeling like.
Arriving at my seat, the stage was set. A boxing ring and thousands of seats took over the pitch and it was hard to believe the England football team had played here less than 24 hours earlier.
Everyone in the stadium was buzzing although the atmosphere was muted throughout the undercard.
Olympic champion Anthony Joshua came and conquered his opponent inside 1 minute and 13 seconds, sadly for him the stadium was barely a quarter full.
Londoner Kevn Mitchell’s arrival prompted a few more bums on seats and then more again for James De Gale’s eliminator fight.
In all honesty the undercard provided a decent night’s boxing but surely was just an appetiser for the main event - Froch-Groves II.
My only concern was that the atmosphere didn’t seem as electric as I’d imagined. At ringside I’m sure there was a real buzz but in the stand, it didn’t really seem to have caught fire.
Then the lights dimmed ready for Groves’ entrance and I need not have worried. The stadium erupted as Groves arrived on a London bus.
The flickering flashes of camera phones all across the stadium was an experience in itself and then, BANG, up went the fireworks.
Then Froch ring walked in similar style and now we were just minutes away from the off.
Legendary master of ceremonies Michael Buffer added more spice to a fight that pretty much sold itself.
“LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE”, echoed around the stadium and we were ready for the first bell.
The fight itself was cagey, a far cry from November’s first explosive contest where Groves floored Froch inside the first round.
Every single person waited with baited breath for the pair to engage, but they didn’t.
They threatened at times to go war but this was a tactical affair and credit to both boxers, they were both sticking to their game plans.
After all the verbal sparring and talk of early knockouts, the realism set in that this fight could actually go the distance.
As I saw it, Groves had the better of the early rounds and I scored him three or four up going into round seven.
This was a good technical fight although the majority of the huge Wembley crowd were just baying for blood, cue the boos.
Groves definitely landed some hurtful punches on Froch but the champion seemed to be playing a waiting game and then... BANG, he landed with a huge right hand and down went the challenger.
The boos were silenced by a deafening cheer of triumph and disbelief and seconds later the fight was all over.
Replays showed what many described as a perfect punch that would have floored the very best.
I agree with that.
And then, after all the verbal sparring, it was refreshing to see Froch step over to Groves and ask “are you all right?” the mark of a true champion.
Both boxers deserve huge credit for putting on two great fights. Froch may have won them both but Groves has made his mark on the world scene and I’m sure he will one day be a world champion.
As 80,000 people slipped out of Wembley, us press boys waited for the post-fight press conference.
Still, despite the fight being over, there was that buzz around the room.
Groves was first up and despite the fact he had just been knocked clean out, he cut a measured and dignified figure in defeat.
Enter The Cobra, of course he was jubilant and he received a round of applause from the room, something I’m not sure is the norm in national media press conference - the England football team certainly wouldn’t get the same treatment.
Froch too was dignified. Yes, he was revelling in his victory and talking about his legacy but he still had plenty of good things to say about a man he has despised in the build-up to these two fights.
And then that was that, it was all over. Just how you better that kind of a spectacle? I really haven’t got a clue, so over to you Eddie Hearn.
What I do know is that I’m just glad I was there. I’ve never experienced anything quite like that in my life and probably won’t ever again.
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