The IBF have paved the way for a potential Battle of Britain at super middleweight after making Hammersmith’s unbeaten prospect George Groves the mandatory challenger for their belt, one of two currently wrapped around the waist of Carl “the Cobra” Froch.
Cries for Groves to get his chance at world level have been growing in volume of late as his career continues to go from strength to strength and he was last seen scoring a second round KO win over Noe Gonzalez Alcoba on the undercard to Froch’s second clash with Mikkel Kessler.
Froch had previously said that he wasn’t interested in giving the London fighter a free-shot at his title, but would be willing to fight him if he achieved mandatory status. This is understandable given a third fight against Kessler or an attempt to gain revenge on Andre “Son Of God” Ward would be far more lucrative for the Nottingham pugilist.
However, through a combination of injuries to those ranked above Groves and other fighters stepping up in weight, that has happened and with the pair both belonging to Eddie Ahern’s Matchroom Sports stable, a potential match could be easier than some to negotiate.
The pair have done some sparring together earlier in their respective careers but it has been Groves’ more recent training exploits have added some extra spice to a potential matchup.
In a supposed bid to continue his boxing education, the IBF mandatory challenger flew out to Denmark to do some training rounds with Kessler before his recent clash with Froch, causing the WBA and IBF champion to accuse Groves of being “jealous and bitter”.
Whilst members of the boxing brains trust, such as former super middleweight don Joe Calzaghe, have suggested that Groves has a chance of defeating Froch if adopting the right tactics, suggesting the Cobra can be “outboxed”.
Groves has stopped eight of his last 10 opponents, albeit at a far lower level than those against which Froch had been testing himself during and after the recent Super Six tournament.
These things are always subjective, but it could be argued that Froch was out-boxed in a scientific sense by four of his Super Six opponents, in Andre Dirrell, Jermain Taylor, Kessler and Andre Ward.
Nonetheless Froch’s granite beard and sheer will to win got him past two of those men without coming close to being stopped and Groves will need to prove that he can out-battle as well as outbox the WBA and IBF boss.
Should Froch choose to vacate the IBF strap he took from Kessler at the O2 in search of more glamourous face-offs, a clash for the vacant belt could well bring about a second professional instalment in the bitter rivalry between Groves and James DeGale, rated one rung below him on the IBF ladder.