Carl Froch retains titles with controversial stoppage win over George Groves
Last Updated: 24/11/13 4:35pm
George Groves (L): Appeared to be heading for victory before stoppage
Carl Froch clung onto his world titles following a hugely controversial stoppage win over George Groves in Manchester.
In a stunning start to the fight, Groves floored Froch heavily and was dominating the contest until the WBA and IBF champion hurt the challenger with a determined assault in the ninth.
Groves was on unsteady legs, but referee Howard Foster stepped in far too swiftly to signal the end of a thrilling super-middleweight clash.
Froch had struggled to cope with the younger man's speed and appeared to be heading for defeat, with all three judges scoring the fight in Groves' favour, before victory was snatched away in contentious fashion.
Controversial victory for Froch
Groves revealed his game plan to Froch in the build-up and backed up his boasts by landing a lightning right hand in the opener.
Froch responded with a crisp punch of his own, but Groves oozed confidence and sent his foe tumbling to the canvas with another huge right hand.
The champion survived the frantic final few seconds, but looked sluggish in the second and Froch was shaken up by a short left hand.
A stiff jab from Froch was answered by more accurate rights from Groves as the challenger remained in command.
"He caught me with a good shot, but that should never have been a stoppage."
Groves slipped out of range when Froch attempted to trap him on the ropes and caught the 'Cobra' with more jabs.
Froch finally sparked to life, as he bullied Groves to the ropes, and the Londoner was left with a swollen eye at the end of the third.
A double jab followed by a right crashed off Froch in the fourth and Groves easily avoided his opponent's flicking jab.
Froch was proving an easy target and he was punished by a chopping right hand from Groves.
The fifth brought a determined response from Froch and he briefly trapped Groves in the corner with a barrage of punches.
Groves deserved better
Froch forced home clubbing hooks, but he was struggling to put a dent in his determined challenger.
A spear-like right forced Froch to hold as Groves regained control in the sixth.
Froch's titles appeared to be slipping from his grasp as Groves hammered the 36-year-old with hooks.
A left hand from Froch was greeted by a show of reckless defiance from Groves, who dropped his hands and weaved away from a barrage of punches.
"George had his head low and I had a free shot and the referee had a split-second decision to make. It was dangerous and he had to put the safety of the fighter first. Let's have a rematch and sort it out."
Groves was briefly troubled by a hook in the seventh, but he responded with a right hand that shook the Nottingham man to his boots.
Froch refused to fall without a fight and a left hand hurt Groves in the opening minute of the eighth.
But his desperation almost drew a point deduction as Foster issued a stern lecture for punching on the break.
Groves had remained icy cool since the start, but Froch finally troubled him in the ninth as chopping hooks forced him to cling on amidst a storm of punches.
Froch sensed he could save his titles and piled forward throwing crude hooks, but Foster leapt in far too hastily as Groves staggered away from the ropes.
You can book Froch v Groves repeats via your Sky remote or online. Go to www.skysports.com/frochgroves