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Groves demands foreign officials for rematch

ESPN staff
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Howard Foster controversially stopped the first fight © PA Photos
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George Groves has called for foreign officials to be appointed for his rematch against Carl Froch at Wembley Stadium on May 31.

Froch retained his IBF and WBA super-middleweight titles in November after referee Howard Foster controversially stopped the bout in the ninth round. Groves campaigned for a rematch, and the Hammersmith-born boxer was granted his wish when the IBF ordered Froch in February to face Groves or risk losing his belt.

Keen to avoid a similar scenario, Groves is now demanding the domestic British Boxing Board of Control do not appoint the referee.

"The British Boxing Board of Control failed me in the first fight," Groves said at a press conference for the fight. "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."

Froch, however, feels Groves is showing a lack of respect to both Foster and the BBBoC. "Howard Foster is a credit to the Board and I'm not happy about it," he said.

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

Promoter Eddie Hearn meanwhile has backed Groves' call, saying: "I feel the officials for this fight should be neutral. It's too big to have any blame or controversy."

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Groves also taunted Froch in the conference by claiming he has "nothing to go on" from the first fight.

"This time round, he's going to have to go into camp, look to his trainer, Rob (Robert McCracken). I have a lot of respect for Rob, but somehow he's going to have to figure out what he can say to Carl which is positive from the first fight, because there is nothing.

"I don't have a clue how they are going to prepare for this fight, but I wish him the very best. He's certainly going to need it."

Wembley was chosen as the venue for the rematch, but challenger Groves believes he already has the upper-hand.

"Carl Froch has been mandated. He now has to fight a fight he doesn't want to take. A fight he knows he can't possibly win. It was a stonewall robbery the first time.

"I wish you [Carl] the very best in your training camp, because it's all systems go for me… Carl Froch knows there's nothing he can take from the first fight, absolutely nothing, apart from the gift that he was given in the ninth round by Howard Foster. He had nothing, he knew he was totally spent."

Froch admits he underestimated Groves in the first fight after falling to the floor in the first round, but insists he will not make the same mistakes in the rematch.

"I've got everyone telling me this kid shouldn't be in the same ring as you, that he's not boxed anyone in the top 15 in the world," Froch said. "The only person he has boxed in the top 15 in the world is me, and let's not forget he lost that fight, regardless of what you think about the controversial stoppage, which it was. That's the reason we're here.

"I took my eye off the ball, and it almost paid dearly. I've had all the earache and the antagonistic jibes and the digs. I've had it, I'm not going to have it again. We're going over old ground now. It's time for me to concentrate on myself.

"I'm ignoring Mr Idiot Boy and all his rubbish. I'm just ignoring it. It's going straight over my head. I've heard it all before. I'm not going to listen to it twice and make the same mistake twice."

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