Groves wants non-British officials for Froch rematch

by Nick Parkinson, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 11 2014 07:20 PM | Updated as of Mar 12 2014 03:20 AM

LONDON - George Groves is demanding non-British officials for his world title re-match with Carl Froch at London's Wembley Stadium on May 31.

The two Britons collide for Froch's World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-middleweight titles after their first encounter in November ended controversially.

Groves, 25, felt referee Howard Foster stopped the fight prematurely in the ninth round after he had floored Froch, 36, in the opening round.

That led Groves to appeal to the IBF to sanction a re-match, which it did, and now the Londoner does not want the domestic British Boxing Board of Control to appoint the referee.

"The British Boxing Board of Control failed me in the first fight," Groves told a Wembley news conference held jointly with Froch on Monday.

"Froch was gifted the decision by Howard Foster. We wanted neutral officials. He awarded it in Carl Froch's favour and it cost me the fight."

Promoter Eddie Hearn agreed with Groves that a non-British referee should be the man in the middle.

"I feel that officials for this fight, of this magnitude, should be neutral and outside of British jurisdiction," Hearn said.

"This is too big to leave any controversy."

But Froch, a three-time world champion at super-middleweight from Nottingham, central England, said Groves' comments betrayed a lack of respect for both Foster and British Boxing Board of Control.

"Howard Foster is a credit to the Board and I'm not happy about it," Froch said.

- Mockery -

"It makes a mockery of the British Boxing Board of Control with one of the biggest fights in British boxing history and they (the Groves camp) are saying we have to have neutral officials for it."

Hearn plans to make a further 20,000 tickets available after 60,000 tickets were sold out within an hour of going on sale on Monday.

The biggest attendance for a fight in Britain since the Second World War had been 57,000 for Ricky Hatton's non-title fight with Juan Lazcano at the City of Manchester Stadium in 2008.

But Groves believes it is a fight Froch did not initially want and has been compelled to take it due to the public demand in Britain for a re-match.

"Carl Froch has been mandated and he has to take this fight, a fight he doesn't want," Groves said.

"It was a stonewall robbery last time and everyone knows that. The IBF know that and that's why they ordered a re-match.

"Carl Froch couldn't get out of this fight and was saying he wanted to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in Las Vegas, instead he has been forced to take this fight and that's round one to me.

"Round two is for me because he has to come down to London, my home town, and fight me in front of all of my supporters. Maybe it's fate that this has happened.

"Carl knows he can take nothing, absolutely nothing, from the last fight except the gift he was given in the ninth round by Howard Foster."

Groves completed a Rubik's Cube at the press conference, preferring not to listen while Froch spoke about how he underestimated his opponent in their first fight.

"What went wrong for me in the first fight was it was hard for me on my 'A game' after everyone had been telling me it was going to be an easy fight," Froch said. "After a while you listen to them.

"Not physically but mentally last time I was not at the races. I won't make that same mistake again.

"I will be in the best mental shape of my life and that spells trouble for George Groves because lightning doesn't strike twice."

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