Who doesn’t love a good fight? A great bout can announce the arrival of a new star, turn a star into a legend or simply entertain a thrilled audience. And let’s be clear here… 2013 was a great year for fights. The hardest part of compiling this list was thinking about what to leave out rather than looking for bouts to put in and there are number of contests that likely deserve at least an honorable mention only to find themselves excluded because I didn’t want to list dozens of contests.
So by now, I’m sure everyone is aware of the controversy over Carl Froch stopping George Groves on Saturday night.
I’ve deliberately avoided writing anything too substantive on the subject for a day or two. All too often people immediately reach for their keyboards (a testament to the times we live in) whenever something like this happens and before you know it there’s a thousand voices screaming a thousand things. I wanted a chance to sit back, clear it from my mind (helped out by Pacquiao’s performance the same night) and then rewatch the entire bout a few times before putting my thoughts on paper.
But anyway, let’s focus on the big point straight away.
The stoppage was early. Not quite ridiculously early, but pretty close to it. Early even by Britain notoriously quick standards. It was early and it was wrong and it should never have happened. Let’s keep that in mind throughout.
Excuse me mixing up my saints (and species of snake… and countries) in the headline… I was struggling for one.
Regardless of my own linguistic frailities, come Saturday much of the boxing media will be focused on China and a certain Manny Pacquiao making his comeback. But a significant amount will also be looking to England and an intruiging 168lbs bout between Carl “the Cobra” Froch and “Saint” George Groves.
People have come to know Froch well over recent years. At first glance he’s a brawler with decent power, an iron chin and an unbreakable will and to this day some people have written him off as simply being nothing more then that. But the truth is, that’s not the case and while no-one is mistaking him for Willie Pep reborn he has a certain amount of class and guile in his ring craft. He can use his jab well, put together powerful combinations, box on the inside and outside and has some underrated footwork. There are still holes in his game of course; his punches have a little too much loop to them, his head movement (and general defence) is at best limited, he still has a tendency to lunge forward into shots and he struggles to transition quickly between ranges and from offence to defence… but over the last few years he’s shown quite how talented his is.
So he did it again.
And I was wrong.
In my preview/prediction for the bout I thought Hopkins would make it tricky and awkward for Cloud but Cloud would be active and aggressive enough to carry himself through with the additional aspect that if Cloud did land a shot he had a real possibility of earning a stoppage.
I was right about the first part and very wrong about the second.