On Saturday in front of about 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, Carl Froch will face George Groves in a high-stakes rematch, with Froch's IBF and WBA super middleweight titles on the line, as well as his standing as the United Kingdom's best fighter.
BLH will have full live coverage for the entire card on Saturday, which starts at 1:00 pm EDT on Sky Box Office in the UK, and will be picked up from 4:00 pm EDT for the main event in the States on HBO.
Carl Froch vs George Groves
Rematch, Super Middleweights, 12 Rounds, for Froch's IBF and WBA titles
Froch is turning 37 on July 2, which seems crazy when you realize he's only been in the spotlight on the world level since his 2008 win over Jean Pascal, which quieted some belief then that he was really only a domestic-level fighter. Froch has gone on to do much more to make himself a worldwide standout, too, with a runner-up finish in the Super Six World Boxing Classic and three separate reigns as a super middleweight titleholder.
Though he hasn't been in a lot of true wars, time could take a toll on Froch sooner than later, but it also needs to be said that he's a fighter who keeps himself in great shape and is truly dedicated to his work. "The Cobra" didn't look old last year in wins over Mikkel Kessler and Groves, but he's always been a fighter with an exploitable defense and a vulnerable style, which helps make him as exciting as he is.
Froch (32-2, 23 KO) has avenged one of his two career defeats with that rematch win over Kessler, and this fight is another sort of opportunity for him to settle a score. Yes, he beat Groves (19-1, 15 KO) by stoppage in November, but the call by referee Howard John Foster was incredibly controversial.
We know Groves has the power, at least early on, to hurt the iron-chinned Froch, dropping him in the opening round. Froch survived that, though, and made a big charge as the fight wore on, as he seemed to rise as Groves' output and effectiveness dropped. Froch claims he overlooked Groves a bit the first time around, and won't do that now.
As for Groves, the 26-year-old Londoner reminds me ... well, he reminds me a lot of Carl Froch. He's been counted out as a guy who won't make it to the top level before. It seemed most expected he would lose in a pro fight against amateur rival James DeGale, but he didn't. Many felt he would get chopped up by Froch last year, but he didn't. He's got the sort of cocky swagger that indicates more confidence than true arrogance or stupidity, a lot like Froch has. These two were either meant to be great friends or bitter rivals. For now, it's the latter. This is a must-see fight, and one of the biggest of the year.
James DeGale vs Brandon Gonzales
Super Middleweights, 12 Rounds, IBF eliminator
Next in line for the Froch-Groves II winner could be the victor in this fight, as James DeGale (18-1, 12 KO) makes his debut with Matchroom Boxing, his third professional promoter, in an IBF eliminator against American Brandon Gonzales (18-0-1, 10 KO).
This is an interesting matchup that may make for a rather dreadful fight from an entertainment standpoint. DeGale, 28, has a ton of talent, but his pro career has been mismanaged from a standpoint of getting him ready for bigger fights. With Frank Warren, DeGale was doing alright, fast-tracking the checkmarks on his way up, but his loss to George Groves seemed to put him off of working with Warren, which led to a defection to Mick Hennessy. Hennessy Sports really had nothing for DeGale other than lofty promises of great exposure on Channel 5, a deal that went nowhere fast.
DeGale left Hennessy, it was reported, because his team rightly identified that he wasn't going to be able to get the sort of fights that would take him to the next level, and that he was possibly stagnating in his development as a result of not being faced with genuine challenges. Gonzales, 30, may or may not be a top-level fighter himself, but on paper he's a hell of a lot better than Gevorg Khatchikian, Stjepan Bozic, Sebastien Demers, Dyah Davis, Fulgencio Zuniga, and Hadillah Mohoumadi, the fighters "Chunky" faced while under Hennessy's banner. That could mean that DeGale comes into this fight a little less prepared than he might need to be.
The Virgil Hunter-trained Gonzales can fight. Whether or not he's a real top guy is, again, still up for debate, but this fight should tell us a good bit about both guys, and the reward for the winner is a world title fight sometime in the near future. This fight matters.
Kevin Mitchell vs Ghislain Maduma
Lightweights, 12 Rounds
Don't overlook this fight, either. Maduma (16-0, 10 KO) may not have much name value, but he's no scrub, either, and this has potential to be his breakthrough fight. The 29-year-old Maduma, born in Congo and fighting for his pro career out of Montreal, and the guys he's been beating in Canada are frankly every bit as good as anyone Mitchell has beaten since 2010, save for John Murray.
Mitchell is a talented but inconsistent fighter who can make for good action, and he's a tough guy with some good punching power. This fight may be the sleeper for Fight of the Night.
Jamie McDonnell vs Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat
Bantamweights, 12 Rounds, for vacant WBA "regular" title
The McDonnell camp and Matchroom are all excited about Jamie winning another bantamweight world title should he pull through in this fight. A few things about that, and then I'll move on:
- There is already a WBA bantamweight champion, and it's Anselmo Moreno. There does not need to be another WBA bantamweight champion. But we all know this, and it's not McDonnell's fault.
- Tabtimdaeng (52-2, 34 KO) is ranked No. 53 in the world by BoxRec. As always, BoxRec rankings aren't the end-all, be-all, but for guys past the top 10-20 of a division, you can get a pretty good feeling for what type of record fighters have. Tabtimdaeng is 52-2 and yet BoxRec's formula sees him as less than Hiroyuki Hisataka (22-12-1, 10 KO) and Luis May (14-7-1, 7 KO), and barely ahead of Rau'Shee Warren (11-0, 3 KO). And I'm not saying this means Tabtimdaeng can't fight or can't win this fight. I'm just saying that on paper, this isn't the fight they're selling you, or even close.
- I have a hard time getting too "offended" about this, or whatever, because McDonnell was screwed out of the IBF belt after beating Julio Ceja last year. And really, who cares? We all know what boxing belts are. If it's extra motivation for McDonnell, good for him.
Anthony Joshua vs Matt Legg
Heavyweights, 8 Rounds
2012 Olympic gold medalist Joshua will win easily. I don't mean that to say you shouldn't watch this fight, because you should. He's one of the most intriguing overall heavyweight prospects in years, a big guy with power, boxing skill, a great attitude, and a terrific personality. This could be a huge future star in the years to come. But right now, he's still fighting guys he'll feast upon.