George Groves may be the challenger again on May 31, but he's making demands, and he says that if there are British officials appointed to his rematch with Carl Froch at Wembley Stadium, he won't fight. Promoter Eddie Hearn has backed the fighter, agreeing that the officials should be fully neutral.
"It was a stonewall robbery first time, everyone knows it, and that's why I've requested neutral officials," said Groves. "It's conditional on the fight going ahead."
"I feel the officials for this fight should be neutral," said Hearn. "It's too big to have any blame or controversy. Howard Foster is a top-class official. George has made it clear to us he doesn't want British board officials on the fight on the night."
First off, and this is just my opinion as an observer and fan and media idiot, Howard Foster is not a top class official. That's sort of the point here. He is a mediocre referee at best. A world-class referee should be the third man in the ring for this bout, whether that be someone like Kenny Bayless, or an IBF-appointed international referee. In any event, it will probably wind up with Luis Pabon being assigned, and that's even worse than Foster.
Froch is unhappy about the demands, but then he's the one who benefited from Foster's refereeing debacle last November:
"To say that [the British Boxing Board of Control are] not invited to the party, when it's happening on our soil, I'm sure that they could turn around and refuse to sanction the fight. If that happens it wouldn't be able to be held on British soil. This will unfold, but it's George again playing clever clogs.
"Possibly he's paranoid about upsetting a lot of officials, from the last one, and he might feel it's going to have some backlash. I don't think something like that would mean that this fight doesn't happen, I really don't think that. But it's something that's going to need discussing and ironing out."
First off (again, so second off, I guess), the BBBofC are not going to refuse to sanction this fight. That's ludicrous. This thing is going to put over 60,000 into Wembley Stadium and it's the biggest British fight in recent memory. The Board would make a mockery of itself if it played pouty over a pretty fair request.
Still, Froch does have a point. The referee in particular should be neutral, I believe, from out of country, but you should probably have at least one British judge assigned. John Keane does a good job -- put him on the job, then find two agreed-upon international judges. Both camps should have a say here, obviously.
Whatever happens, the fight is going to go ahead. Again -- 60,000 tickets are already gone. No one's bailing now. It's quite possible these two will never have an opportunity for a bigger fight.