Carl Froch says George Groves is 'paranoid' over officials

Carl Froch has criticised George Groves for wanting "neutral officials" for their super-middleweight world title rematch at Wembley Stadium on 31 May.

Groves lost the first bout in November but believed it was stopped too early by British referee Howard Foster.

"That's why I've requested neutral officials," said Groves. "It's conditional on the fight going ahead."

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George Groves

During a news conference on Monday, George Groves played with a Rubik's cube on stage while Carl Froch was being interviewed.

"I'm not happy about it," said the 36-year-old Froch, accusing Londoner Groves, 25, of being "paranoid".

Froch added Groves was being disrespectful to the British Boxing Board of Control.

"We would like to think that our referees, our officials, our judges could play a part in the whole event," he said.

"To say that they're not invited to the party, when it's happening on our soil, I'm sure that they could turn around and refuse to sanction the fight.

"If that happens, it wouldn't be able to be held on British soil.

"I don't think something like that would mean that this fight doesn't happen, I really don't think that, but it's something that's going to need discussing and ironing out."

Promoter Eddie Hearn said 60,000 tickets had been sold within a hour of going on sale on Monday and that he expected sales to hit 80,000, which would set a new post-war British attendance record for a boxing match.

Hearn insisted the fight would "make history" and that the rematch would be a "savage" bout, with the two boxers "totally hating each other".

Froch shoved Groves as tempers frayed during a pre-fight publicity day on Monday.

"I am too long in the tooth to pay attention to his childish games," said Froch. "I thought I was in the last fight but I wasn't. This time it spells trouble for him because I am mentally in the right place.

"When you fight at this level, you come across some classy characters. Unfortunately, this is where George Groves lets himself down a little bit. He is very disrespectful.

"He is evidently trying to get under my skin and I am not having it.

British boxing's biggest crowds since the Second World War

1: Ricky Hatton v Juan Lazcano (2008) - City of Manchester Stadium: 55,000

=2: Joe Calzaghe v Mikkel Kessler (2007) - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff: 50,000

=2: Bruce Woodcock v Lee Savold (1950) - White City Stadium: 50,000 (approx)

=2: Freddie Mills v Bruce Woodcock (1949) - White City Stadium: 50,000 (approx)

5: Chris Eubank v Nigel Benn (1993) - Old Trafford (Manchester United): 42,000

"I don't think George Groves can do 12 rounds at any sort of pace. I can't see this going the distance. It is going to be one hell of an entertaining fight."

Nottingham's Froch retained his WBA and IBF super-middleweight titles by stopping Groves at Manchester Arena last November.

The International Boxing Federation ruled that "inappropriate conduct" by referee Foster contributed to the result, ordering a rematch within 90 days.

"Carl is set in his ways and has managed to get by with what he has got," Londoner Groves told BBC Sport.

"Slowly, his attributes are starting to deteriorate. He is left now with a good chin and a bit of determination. Technically, he punches terribly.

"In the last fight, he was abused - physical, emotional, spiritual. How is he going to deal with that when the flashbacks come?

"This is a three-round fight. I know I can hurt Carl Froch."