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Andre Ward slams 'old and bitter' Froch's backhanded tribute to retired rival Groves

Ward took the Nottingham man to task over his comments on now-retired rival George Groves.

Andre Ward (L) said Carl Froch's arrogance was 'off the charts' after his former opponent claimed British boxing wouldn't miss his own domestic rival, George Groves, who retired on Monday.
Andre Ward (L) said Carl Froch's arrogance was 'off the charts' after his former opponent claimed British boxing wouldn't miss his own domestic rival, George Groves, who retired on Monday.
Image: PA Images

UNBEATEN AND RETIRED former pound-for-pound king Andre Ward has laid into former opponent Carl Froch for the manner in which he paid ‘tribute’ to his domestic rival George Groves who announced his retirement from boxing on Monday.

American star Ward beat Froch on a unanimous decision in the final of the revered Super Six World Boxing Classic super-middleweight tournament in 2011, confirming his status as one of the finest proponents of his trade on the planet.

Froch, though, rebounded almost legendarily from what was his second career defeat, destroying the unbeaten and much-feared Lucian Bute in his next outing before going on to avenge his defeat to Mikkel Kessler.

He then encountered rising star Groves with whom he went on to wage all kinds of war on either side of the ropes; Froch peeled himself from the canvas to win a thrilling first encounter in highly contentious circumstances before putting to bed their bitter all-British rivalry with a thunderous right hand at Wembley Stadium six months later.

Groves went on to become a world champion in his own right, holding the WBA super-middleweight world title between 2017 and 2018, but announced on Monday that he has hung up the gloves at the age of 30 to spend more time with his young family and pursue a career in talent management.

A popular figure within British boxing and considered a gentleman outside of the ring by most who have encountered him, Groves’ announcement sparked an outpouring of tributes from fighters, writers and fans.

In trademark fashion, however, the Londoner’s old rival Froch wasn’t especially forthcoming in his compliments.

The 41-year-old — who himself retired after knocking out Groves at Wembley in May of 2014 — told Sky Sports:

“Will I miss him? Probably not. But I can’t deny that Groves made a massive, positive impact on the end of my career. Between us we filled Wembley and raised the bar for the next generation, led by Anthony Joshua of course, to box there, regularly.

“Groves certainly played his part in all that. A big part.

He will be remembered for all those mind games and smart words he came out with, but I have to be honest, I never found him funny or clever. I could talk about what happened in the fight at Wembley, but you all know… Everything for a reason.

“What I will say about him, though, is well done for becoming a world champion,” Froch added. “Even if I was not his biggest fan, I was glad to stand up and applaud his win over Fedor Chudinov at Bramall Lane.

“I do remember thinking he started off well and went for it, but then started to fade. But he bit down on his gum-shield and picked the pace up. He took it to Chudinov with a heavy assault of hooks and combinations and got the stoppage. I was happy to stand up and applaud him, he’d won a world title at the fourth attempt. Seeing anyone fulfil their dream is nice, even if they’re not your best mate.

But I won’t miss him and I am not sure that British boxing will miss him, these days at least. There was nothing left out there for him. He lost to Callum Smith, who is now top of the super-middleweight world and it wasn’t like it was a close or controversial defeat. He was conclusively beaten and there was never going to be a rematch.

“Smith is now in the new super-middleweight scene, where the champions are big, strong, young and fresh.

“I just can’t see there being anything out there for Groves to bother with. Yes, he could wait around and fight the winner of James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr, but what is the point?

“He’s just beaten Eubank Jr and the first fight with DeGale was so long ago, I am not sure even George could get up for that.”

Following significant backlash to his remarks, Froch tweeted Groves to again wish him well in retirement.

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“If you’ve never boxed, you will never understand the profound respect between two fighters, even if they don’t like each other,” said the Nottingham man. “@StGeorgeGroves I wish you a healthy & happy retirement. You was a solid world champion & you did yourself & your family very proud. Take care champ!”

Former champion Ward came by Froch’s quotes to Sky Sports, however, via the website BoxingScene, and tweeted the article while adding: “Your (sic) over 40 bro, let it go. The arrogance is off the charts.”

Ward wasn’t finished, going on to label Froch “old and bitter”, and “too old” to be Twitter-blocking fans who disagree with his opinions.

Froch then implied that Ward had retired due to what some perceived to be his ‘boring’ style, particularly earlier in his career, claiming there was “no TV interest” in S.O.G’s fights.

Ward accused Froch of ducking a rematch with him, a jibe reciprocated by Froch who suggested the American lacked the courage to face him in a sequel in the UK.

Following Ward’s own retirement in September of 2017, Froch described his defeat to the stylish Oakland native as “a very awkward, tricky, horrible night.”

He added in his Sky Sports column: “With that [Ward's] style, it doesn’t really get the juices flowing. It doesn’t really get people excited. I don’t think the TV broadcasters really gave him much love in America.

“It’s a shame because he was a great addition to the light-heavyweight division, beating [Sergey] Kovalev in his last fight, albeit with three low blows! He still beat him.

I won’t be sad to see the back of him. It’s not sour grapes. I know he beat me, but I never really got that excited when he boxed. Andre Ward used to nullify his opponent and don’t get me wrong, he’s a class act, he knows what he’s doing and he knows how to win.


Join us to preview the Six Nations with Simon Zebo, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey on Thursday @7pm in Liberty Hall Theatre Dublin.

‘Boxing has been good to me’: Former world champion Groves retires aged 30

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