• Carl Froch v George Groves

Froch controversially stops Groves to retain world titles

ESPN staff
November 23, 2013
Despite being knocked down in the first round, Carl Froch came good in the ninth round © PA Photos

Carl Froch survived relentless punishment and a first-round knockdown to successfully defend his WBA and IBF world super-middleweight titles with a controversial ninth-round stoppage of George Groves.

With Froch firmly planted on the back foot for much of the thrilling battle in Manchester, referee Howard Foster appeared to jump in prematurely when the 'Cobra' began to land heavy punishment on Groves during a gruelling ninth round.

Previously unbeaten Groves was disconsolate as Froch raised his hands in delight but it was the crowd who began to register huge disgust at the decision, filling the arena with a chorus of boos.

It was a stark contrast to the ring walks, where Groves was greeted by thousands of jeers as he made his way to the ring. Froch immediately had the crowd on his side, walking to the canvas to the backing of iconic Mancunian band Oasis.

However, the occasion did not appear to faze Groves as the challenger quickly settled into his jab, backing his pre-fight talk by going immediately on the attack. Two jabs landed, but Froch responded with one of his own. Both failed to connect with several swinging blows, before Groves had the champion in serious trouble with a crunching right hand which sent Froch to the floor.

The Nottingham fighter's legs clearly wobbled on the rise, but Froch survived the count only for Groves to dish out further punishment shortly before the first bell.

Groves rallied on the momentum during the second, not allowing Froch to administer the jab which was so effective against Mikkel Kessler. Another three punch combination from Groves caused more problems for Froch, who struggled to deal with the 25-year-old's speed.

But Froch retaliated in the third, pinning Groves on the ropes with a succession of body shots before landing with a large right to the side of the head. A solid right from Groves was the highlight in the fourth, which looked to be a round where both fighters caught their breath following the frantic start.

The pair continued to trade blows in the fifth, but Groves answered every Froch effort with a faster, harder punch. Groves began to work the inside, before inflicting more damage on Froch's chin. However, the challenger's inexperience almost made for his own downfall as Groves dropped his gloves during the sixth round, inviting Froch forward.

Froch needed no second invitation and once again had his foe on the ropes with a flurry of torso shots. The early exertions began to take their toll during the seventh, the pace seriously slowing but another lightning right hand from Groves looked to wobble the veteran.

The eighth round proved a swing in momentum as Froch finally grew into the fight, trying to land more shots on Groves' badly bruised left eye. However, the 36-year-old received a stern talking to from Foster for leading with the head.

But Froch smelt blood and began to inflict serious damage in the ninth round, leaving Groves in danger. Several slugging right-handers followed before Foster deemed enough was enough, stepping in to stop the fight and hand Froch a famous but ultimately questionable victory.

Referee Howard Foster stepped in to stop the fight in the ninth round © PA Photos

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