Carl Froch (31-2, 22 KOs) makes it a one-two this Saturday in terms of the biggest British fights of 2013 and, just like in the first - that convincing decision against Mikkel Kessler in their May rematch - the Nottingham man is the firm odds-on favorite.
It's no surprise, though, that Froch (-350, -400 more generally) is more heavily favored in the build-up to this, approximately the 3,478th instalment of contests masquerading as a ‘Battle of Britain' over the years. It's an easy sell, of course, and the Sky/Matchroom PPV hype machine has been operating to its fullest capacity over recent days.
The bookies, however, are less convinced it'll be as competitive as some may like us to believe. In the opposite corner, George Groves (19-0, 15 KOs), Hammersmith, west London, is a considerably lower-key opponent than we've become accustomed to seeing Froch square off against over recent years.
Groves's last three wins, over Alcoba, Barakat, and Balmaceda, read more like a who's-that compared to Froch's who's-who super-middleweight resume, and while the far greener 25-year-old holds over a decade's advantage in age, he's also the shorter man, in addition to giving up three inches in reach. What's more, those wins that rank as Froch's worst since the inception of the Super Six rival anything on his opponent's record. Taking all of that into consideration, it's arguable that Groves should be longer than the +350 he's available at here, but herein lies the inevitability that surrounds so many fights of this magnitude - it's the underdog that sees the support in the last few days of fight week.
Indeed, Froch opened at a considerably shorter price (-500), and it was a price that was hard to squabble too much about. Yet, given time, pre-fight press conferences, TV promos, and the gradual snowballing of fair-weather once-or-twice-a-year fan interest, talk invariably shifts from an easy shift for the heavy favorite to predictions of something much closer. And so it goes: Groves is now as short as 2/1 (+300) to pull the upset: on paper, a remarkable price for a fighter listing a debatable win over a ten-fight James DeGale as his best win.
Make no mistake, Groves is a talented, exciting young fighter, but we've seen him struggle - and dropped - against domestic-level opposition in Kenny Anderson. Much of Froch's reputation has been built on his sheer physicality - it's hard to find a real vulnerability in him should this wind up in a toe-to-toe contest, and Groves - recently-split from long-term trainer Adam Booth - would surely be best advised to avoid a firefight in what's likely to be a pressure-cooker, pro-Froch atmosphere.
That split with the excellent Adam Booth shouldn't be underestimated, and indeed is a huge factor, although one that hasn't affected the prices here. How that affects Groves, if at all, remains to be seen, but the layers think it's a fight he's going to have to eke out over the distance. It's a best-priced +650 (+500 more readily available) that Groves earns a decision, although we've seen Froch adapt well to a rangier approach too, such as those he employed against both Arthur Abraham and Kessler last time out. There's anything up to +1100 that Groves forces a stoppage over an iron-chinned Froch, and though the Londoner may hold a slight edge in true one-punch power, it feels implausible that a peak-condition Froch will unravel that dramatically.
Two stoppages in three fights since that defeat to Andre Ward has reinvigorated public perception of Froch as a puncher, and while most of his early nights are the result of accumulated damage rather than flash endings, there's little doubt that he's a ferocious offensive fighter when in the mood.
As a result, it's the Froch KO/TKO that the compilers rate as the most likely of the four main outcomes in the method of victory market. At a best-priced -137, it's not short enough to be unattractive, but there are likely to be more imaginative routes to a return above the even-money mark for backers looking to side with the stoppage.
British firm Spreadex have dipped their toe into an expanded Exact Method of Victory market, and there's plenty of appeal in looking at the Froch TKO at +150. It's a more limiting option, and would mean that any shot Groves fails to make the count for is a deal-breaker, but there's a case that it seems more plausible for it to be a Bute-style mercy call from the referee that closes the show, rather than a clean knockout shot.
An interesting aside - Froch has, with some controversy, history for calling the round he'll end a fight in, and did much the same prior to the three-round demolition of Yusaf Mack. "I'd like this fight to go on between six and eight rounds," said Froch on Monday, which should alert at least those looking for a bigger-priced interest to the grouped round market, in which Froch between 5-8 inclusive is available at +333.
For those who fancy Groves to provide a more durable test, there's plenty of variance on the Froch decision across the board, which ranges from +225 up to +333, with the draw around ten times the price of the latter.