George Groves talked the talk and walked the walk, but "The Saint" still walked away a loser after a sensational super middleweight title fight against Carl Froch in Manchester, England, on Saturday.
After a buildup filled with needle, the two Brits locked horns and went toe-to-toe in front of a sellout crowd at the Phones 4U Arena. From the opening bell, Groves (19-1, 15 KOs) backed up his prefight game plan by taking it to Froch and putting the uberconfident fighter on the deck with a counter right hand in Round 1.
Both men engaged in vicious exchanges throughout, with Groves more often than not getting the better of them, to the surprise of many. But Froch (32-2, 23 KOs) rallied in Round 9 to hurt Groves before referee Howard Foster stepped in to wave the bout off -- a decision thought to be extremely premature by most in attendance.
It may not be complete, but tonight we witnessed the changing of the guard.
Key moment: In Round 1, Groves backed Froch up as he said he would with a pair of right hands and pushed his man back. The Nottingham warrior was being outfought and went on to eat a spectacular counter right hand that put the champion on the canvas, leaving spectators and viewers in a state of shock.
We've got your number: Eight. Groves should have taken a knee and an eight-count when Froch, with his trademark raiding combinations, finally had his man in trouble in Round 9. Instead it was Foster, the man trusted with the bout in front of 20,000 people, putting Groves in a headlock as he called an end to the fight.
Last word: Did Froch underestimate a challenger he didn't deem worthy? Or did Groves prove that he belongs on the world stage? More of the latter, I believe. Froch, known as one of boxing's warriors, was at times schooled and bullied by the inexperienced and "chinny" Groves. It was a world title fight that will live long in the memory due to the action and controversial nature of the stoppage. Surely we will be given more of the same by a fully warranted rematch next year.