Controversy reigns again, as referee Howard Foster became the star villain of today's Carl Froch vs George Groves fight, stopping the bout absurdly in the ninth round in favor of Froch. Nobody but Foster and Carl Froch seemed to agree with the stoppage.
Froch (32-2, 23 KO) said after the fight that he thought it was a "fair enough stoppage," which led the big crowd in Manchester to boo heartily, which they continued every time Froch spoke during the post-fight interview at ringside. Seated next to Groves (19-1, 15 KO), Froch became the heel of the situation, since the referee wasn't speaking, and continued to complain that Groves had been "childish," "rude," and "stupid" in the build-up to the fight, which Groves essentially ignored.
Froch was shockingly dropped hard in the first round on a right hand from Groves, and the fact that Carl got up and carried on was plenty deserving of props. It was a massive shot that caught him wide open and dropped him hard to the canvas. But Froch got through the bit of that round remaining, and made it through a shaky second round as well.
From there, Groves won most of the fight, though Froch's performance was certainly admirable in its dogged determination. BLH had Groves up 77-74 at the time of stoppage, while two of the judges had it 76-75 for Groves. It was a fight that may have seemed more one-sided than it really was, to be fair.
And then came the stoppage. Thanks to Zombie Prophet, we have it for you:
With Groves reeling a bit and Froch pouring on sloppy but hellacious pressure, Foster stepped in and stopped the bout. As Groves said after the fight, Froch had been buzzed as badly if not worse in many rounds, if not most. And if Groves was in bad enough condition to be stopped there, while throwing back and everything, how was Froch allowed out of the first round?
The thing is, this was a terrific fight. Groves lived up to his promises and was winning the bout, at least in the view of the vast majority. Froch, to his eternal credit, proved his chin and his warrior spirit yet again. He wouldn't back down and he just kept staying in the fight as best he could, and eventually, he scratched and clawed into it on pure physicality and guts.
Maybe Froch would have scored a dramatic stoppage of Groves that was deserved. Maybe Groves would have been checked and proved he had even more in the tank. Maybe we were heading for a truly special, Fight of the Year-style conclusion.
We'll never know. Howard Foster robbed us of that, and robbed George Groves of his chance. There's no doubt Groves is a world-level contender, as he gave the second-best super middleweight in the world hell tonight. But he leaves with a loss he may not have deserved had the fight gone on as it should have. And that's the problem. That's the shame of it all.