• Carl Froch v George Groves II

Groves trainer warns of Froch 'fouling'

ESPN staff
May 20, 2014
Carl Froch pushes George Groves out of picture on the Wembley pitch © PA Photos

George Groves' trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick has called for a "strong referee" to watch out for Carl Froch "fouling" in their IBF and WBA world title rematch at Wembley on May 31.

Fitzpatrick also wants officials to keep a close eye on his counterpart Rob McCracken who he claims has a history of encouraging Froch to foul.

"I am extremely concerned about the fouling of Carl Froch in this fight. We need a strong referee to prevent what he has always done," Fitzpatrick said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

"When he gets emotionally involved, he fouls with shots behind the head, he uses rabbit punches and he barges into his opponent with his shoulder and forearm. Barging a man in the shoulder I can live with."

All parties have yet to come to an agreement on a referee for the fight with the issue a major area of contention.

The rematch was originally ordered by the IBF after they ruled that referee Howard Foster acted "inappropriately" in stopping November's first bout in the ninth round as Groves covered himself, with the challenger insisting a foreign referee be chosen for the Wembley bout.

However last week, Froch and his promoter Eddie Hearn objected to the appointment of American referee Jack Reiss with the IBF continuing their search.

Fitzpatrick added: "I said 'Yes' to Jack Reiss and they said 'No'. People said he didn't do a good job when Andre Ward fought Mikkel Kessler, as he missed headbutts, but there's a difference between someone doing a deliberate headbutt and someone using their head in an old-school manner and not making it obvious."

He continued: "When Froch is frustrated, he wants to assert himself. But hitting repeatedly on the back of the head can kill a man. Hitting a dude in the nuts will hurt him, but it won't kill him.

"Hitting a man on the back of the head is dangerous stuff. We have seen fighters badly injured from falling and hitting their neck on the bottom rope. They're never the same again. This is a big deal to me and a major concern, and it was one I brought up before the first fight.

"I made my case in front of George's attorney, Neil Sibley, at the first rules meeting and the Board of Control sat back and the man in charge said, 'Yeah, we'll take care of that'. Well, they didn't. They did absolutely nothing about it. And the Board of Control have now got to step up, in my opinion.

Referee Howard Foster controversially stopped the first fight between Carl Froch and George Groves in the ninth round © PA Photos

"In that same rules meeting, Rob McCracken said it wasn't fair for me to call Carl a 'dirty fighter' because he has been an 'ambassador for the sport'. That's all well and good, and I'm sure Carl has done a lot for British boxing, but I said, 'I'm not calling Carl a dirty fighter, but I am saying when he gets emotional, he could foul'.

"I've changed my opinion completely on that. Carl Froch has said in the past, 'I am the student, Rob is the sensei'. He tells me what to do and I do it. Now go and watch the fight between Andre Ward and Carl Froch.

"At the end of round eight, Rob McCracken says, 'When he's leaning in, just hit him on the back of the head'. I don't care if people see that as being disrespectful.

"If you call me disrespectful for pointing out that another man has told his fighter to break the rules and deliberately hit his opponent on the back of the head, I have no use for your opinion. It means nothing to me. You can keep it. They have it on tape; Rob McCracken told his fighter, Carl Froch, to go out there and be dirty.

"I want McCracken watched as well, not just Carl. I don't care if you're the head of the GB Olympic boxing team. And I don't care if you're the coach of Carl Froch, an ambassador for British boxing. But I'm noticing things and pointing them out. They're all truths.

"I want the Board of Control to step up, I want Rob McCracken to be watched and I want Carl Froch to be watched. And when he does inevitably foul, I want him pulled up on it.

"This is no longer 'The Carl Froch Show', with George Groves just coming along to give a good account of himself and then go home. This fight has been mandated because George Groves deserves his chance to right the wrongs.

"This means everybody involved has got to come correct this time. If we don't, there will be another controversy, and that's not good enough. This is supposed to be the fight that corrects everything."

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