Froch retains titles amid controversial stoppage over Groves
Carl Froch (32-2) remained Britain's number one super middleweight and the IBF and WBA champion following a controversial stoppage win over George Groves (19-1) in the 9th round on Saturday night at the Phones 4U Arena in Manchester.
In a stunning start to the fight, Groves floored Froch heavily and was dominating the contest until the 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.
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.
Froch survived the frantic final few seconds, but looked sluggish in the second and he 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.
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.
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.
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.
On the undercard, Scott Quigg (27-0-2) secured his first win as world champion after he demolished Diego Oscar Silva (29-3-4) in the second round.
Quigg was awarded the WBA super-bantamweight title and defended it with a draw against Yoandris Salinas last month, but he kick-started his reign with an explosive victory.
The Bury man quickly found his range, landing a looping hook in the opening seconds before unleashing a sharp right hand later in the opener.
Silva suddenly seemed fragile as Quigg upped his assault and an uppercut followed by a body shot sent the Argentine crumpling to the canvas.
He rose unsteadily to his feet, but Quigg finished his foe in dramatic fashion as a ferocious right hook robbed Silva of his senses.
Referee Terry O'Connor quickly waved off the fight as Silva lay prone on the canvas and he thankfully was helped to his feet after a few minutes.
Quigg admitted he was determined to show that he is a worthy world champion.
He said: "This is what I have dreamed of and coming back here I wanted to make a statement and prove I deserve to be world champion in front of all these fans. It was absolutely amazing.
"My tactics from the last fight were obviously different. I wanted to come out and make a statement and show that I've got the punch power and the aggression is still there. It was controlled and I felt like I picked my shots, I didn't over rush it, but I enjoyed it in there.
"He was probably made for me a bit more, he was more aggressive. He was coming to me and I didn't have to go looking for him.
"Fight-by-fight I'll grow into being a world champion. I feel like boxing Salinas, I've improved so much. I learnt so much in that fight. I think it proved today that I've gone up another level."
Promoter Eddie Hearn has been unable to agree a fight with Irish rival Carl Frampton, but is hoping to arrange a unification fight against Kiko Martinez, who defends his IBF title against Jeffrey Mathebula on December 21.
"We want that fight with Kiko Martinez now," said Hearn. "We are already in deep talks. Joe Gallagher and Scott will fly out there on the 21st to watch the fight and hopefully we can get that made."