Carl Froch and George Groves escalated the ill feeling between the pair on Thursday as they engaged in a verbal joust that arguably saw the youngster get the better of the IBF and WBA super middleweight champion.
Froch and Groves collide on Nov. 23 in a huge fight for British boxing, but the champion attempted to assume a psychological edge by belittling his rival on Sky Sports’ Ringside programme.
Groves opted to refer to the champion only as Froch, refusing to use his first name, to which Froch replied:
I come to expect this from a young naive fighter. I've heard it all before. I've heard the same confident talk or arrogance, whatever you want to call it, about what they're going to do and how they're going to beat me time and time again.
Froch was then asked if the 25-year-old Groves reminds him of a young version of himself. The question prompted a sharp exchange between the pair, reported by Sky Sports:
Froch: I don't think I've ever been so stupid and arrogant in my whole life. That's not me in previous years.
Groves: Where's the arrogance Carl?
Froch: I'm talking to Johnny (Nelson) at the minute.
Groves: I'm talking to you.
Froch: I'm listening but I'm not answering.
The bad blood between the duo is borne out of Groves’ decision to spar with Mikkel Kessler ahead of Froch’s recent rematch with the Dane.
Froch felt Groves, as a fellow Brit, should have shown a degree of respect by refusing to aid Kessler’s preparations, as reported by Mike Dawes of the Daily Mail.
A heated press conference threatened to spark into action last month, and the simmering tension spilled into Thursday's show.
Now the pair can hardly look at each other ahead of their showdown, although Groves appeared to force his rival to backpedal over reports that Froch once knocked him out in training.
When asked what happened when they sparred with big gloves, Groves responded:
He dropped me … The St John's Ambulance came in and a helicopter came in and flew me to A&E. That's how it went.
Or did I stand straight up, tap your gloves and carry on with the spar and then ruin you two days later before you fought Kessler and got your first loss didn't you? Do you remember that? Up in Nottingham? When your brother was asking me for photos and saying I was going to be a world champion?
Froch failed to deny Groves’ version of events on Ringside, which can be viewed here, providing an interesting eyeopener that he may well have been schooled by Groves in the lead-up to the first Kessler bout.
On paper, regardless of verbal battles, it still looks a one-sided clash in the champion’s favour.
Froch has fought a much higher standard of opponent, a list topped by Kessler and Andre Ward; he appears the stronger man and has a granite chin that allows him to apply relentless pressure.
Groves might be more tactical, but he will find it difficult to establish distance between the pair unless his jab finds its target from the opening bell.
The verbal war has been surprisingly entertaining in the weeks leading up to the bout. Groves will hope the same can be said of the actual fight.