Carl Froch of Britain celebrates with the championship belt after defeating compatriot George Groves in their WBA and IBF Super Middleweight World Championship title fight at Wembley Arena in London May 31, 2014. Photo by Eddie Keogh, Reuters.
LONDON - Carl Froch landed the punch of his life to knock out George Groves in the eighth round and retain his WBA and IBF super-middleweight titles in front of an 80,000 sell-out crowd at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
The grizzled 36-year-old, in his 12th world title fight, exploded his right glove flush on to the chin of fellow Briton Groves late in the round to end the contest in brutal fashion.
"That was a great right-hander. I timed it perfectly," said the Nottingham fighter who has struggled throughout his career to earn the plaudits his 33-2 record merits.
"I was trying to close down George, at times the crowd were getting a bit bored but I was not going to force it.
"I was biding my time and I knew as soon as I landed it correctly, on the chin, on the jaw section of the cranium, it would be all over and it was.
"It must be the best punch I have ever thrown and landed in my life. It is not going to get any better than this."
Froch's 24th knockout victory came out of the blue after an often cagey fight that occasionally burst into life before a British record crowd for a boxing match according to local media.
"I think I was ahead on the scorecards until that," said Groves, who was controversially stopped in the ninth round when he met Froch for the first time in November.
"I'll be pushing hard to get my world title shot and maybe, if he's still boxing, that might be against Carl again. Back to the drawing board."
The hype had been building for weeks with both fighters trading insults and the atmosphere before the fight was electric as the two boxers made their way into the stadium which the night before had hosted England's 3-0 win over Peru in an international soccer warm-up match for the World Cup.
Groves entered the arena on top of a double decker bus with pyrotechnics lighting up the night sky while Nottingham's Froch walked to the ring with Queen's anthem 'We Will Rock You' reverberating around the cavernous venue.
The first couple of rounds were cagey with Groves landing the odd crisp jab and staying well clear of trouble.
Boos rang out early in the third round as the fighters continued to size each other up but battle commenced almost immediately with Groves landing a thumping right hand.
Froch's durability rather than his style has been his trademark down the years and in the fifth round he finally drew Groves into the kind of toe-to-toe brawl that was far more to his liking, leaving the challenger with a smear of blood under his left eye.
The champion continued to claw back the early deficit in the next two rounds, although the tiring Groves showed he was still dangerous by staggering Froch with a spiteful left jab.
There was no warning of what was to come as the action lulled in the eighth, but when his chance came Froch landed one of the best punches of his career to claim a brutal victory.
A swinging left knocked Groves off balance and with his chin exposed Froch unleashed a punch so pure that the referee did not even bother to go through the formality of a count.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Additional reporting by Justin Palmer; Editing by Ken Ferris)