The eyes of the sporting world will be on Wembley Stadium this weekend as super-middleweights Carl Froch and George Groves go toe-to-toe for a second time in “the biggest fight in British boxing history”.
Froch, who has been undertaking some of his training at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, will defend his IBF and WBA titles against domestic nemesis Groves in a rematch of their nine-round thriller back in November.
An electric atmosphere is guaranteed from the 80,000 paying punters at the national stadium as Groves seeks to avenge his controversial stoppage loss in their first encounter.
Promoter Eddie Hearn admits he left himself open to ridicule with his ambitious decision to stage the fight at Britain’s largest outdoor venue.
But ticket sales, media hype and public anticipation have certainly proved him right as the build-up reaches fever pitch for the record-breaking showdown.
“For me, this is the biggest fight in British boxing history and we’re proving that fact as each day passes,” Hearn told Press Association Sport.
“I’m very, very proud. Not just of the fight itself but of the occasion for British boxing. I don’t think we’ll see anything like this ever again.
“This is much bigger and better than the first fight. The problem with the first fight was that it didn’t really feel like it had the credibility .
“I knew how dangerous George Groves was - although I don’t think Carl took much notice of that first time around, unfortunately. But this time it has got the credibility because everyone saw the first fight, which was one of the greatest fights I’ve seen. And now we’ve got it all over again.
“The animosity, the rivalry and the credibility is epic.”
Froch admits he took Groves lightly in Manchester six months ago, when he was floored by a right hand in the first round and outboxed in the early stages. The 36-year-old Nottingham native displayed his revered ‘warrior spirit’ by drawing the Londoner into a scrap and forcing a controversial ninth-round stoppage by referee Howard Foster, who was accused of stepping in prematurely.
Froch dismissed Groves’ credentials before that meeting and knows differently this time around.
“I perhaps didn’t ever think that such a career-defining fight for my legacy would come against George Groves, to be honest,” he said.
“But strange things happen and domestic tear-ups are always the big events.
“My career is hanging by a thread, my legacy rests on this fight. It’s very, very important for my career.
“I haven’t got a clue what it will feel out to walk out in front of 80,000. I’ve never done it. It’s going to be good. I’ve done it in front of 20,000 so it will be like that times four. It’ll be electric.”
Groves has a score to settle after being left fuming by Foster’s decisive intervention six months ago.
“Maybe it’s written in the stars that after not getting the win the first time, I’ll win the world titles at Wembley in my home city in front of a huge crowd,” he said.
“I’ll only be able to be at peace with the first fight and put it to bed after I’ve won on Saturday because there is unfinished business.
“This fight picks up where the last fight left off. I feel that I deserved to win the first fight and now I plan to go out and become world champion on the biggest stage. It’s going to be an awfully sweet feeling and a great experience. It’s going to enhance my career and boost my public profile.
“Until the rematch is done I can’t say ‘I’m happy’ but everything happens for a reason.”
Froch weighed in heavier than the naturally bigger Groves, scaling 11 stone 13 pounds and 9 ounces in front of a crowd of around 5,000 at Wembley Arena. Groves, meanwhile, scaled 11st 12lbs 4oz.