Foster

Referee Howard Foster will have woken up this morning to see his social network profiles flooded with abuse from people disgruntled at his handling of the Froch v Groves fight last night.

Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, you'll be aware that the Doncaster official stepped in to halt the action in the ninth round after Groves had shipped a couple of hard blows.

The furore comes from the fact that that the flame-haired Hammersmith man had been dominating much of the contest and seemed on course to do something only Andre Ward and Mikkel Kessler had previously managed - outclass the Cobra.

Groves had dropped the WBA and IBF super-middleweight champion heavily in opening round and had won most of the exchanges in the eight sessions that followed.

More importantly, prior to that fateful ninth, Groves had never really looked too troubled by Froch's renowned punching power.

But the thing is, the referee isn't there to think 'this kid is winning so I've got to let him continue when hurt', he has to make a split-second decision that is in the best interest of the boxer concerned.

Was last night's stoppage premature? Yes, but there's an old adage that rings true and it goes like this - it is better to stop a fight one punch too early than one punch too late.

In this country we've seen a number of tragedies in the past two decades or so and nobody wants another one.

Some people have tried to claim that last night's fight was a fix. Frankly, that is ridiculous. Howard Foster is one of the finest officials in Europe and anyone who thinks he stopped the fight with anything other than his best intentions really doesn't undertand the sport or the man.

One national newspaper has today published an article in which it insinuates that Mr Foster's decision came from him liking a comment on his Facebook page predicting a ninth round finish.

That's absurd and one hopes that the two-bit hack that wrote the piece is currently hanging their head in shame.

It has also been claimed that if Groves should have been stopped in the ninth, then Froch should have been stopped in the first. That thinking overlooks one key factor - boxers generally recover better from being hurt early in a fight than they do if hurt late, after already shipping multiple blows.

In conclusion, it's fair to say last night's stoppage was hasty, but it's unfair to call into question Howard Foster's integrity. Venting dissatisfaction at the result is perfectly acceptable, but launching personal attacks at a human being who is merely doing their job isn't.

Alongside Richie Davies, Mr Foster is the best star class A referee currently licensed by the British Boxing Board of Control. He's already earned the right to be the third man in big contests and will continue to serve the sport admirably in the future.

What's more questionable than the decision to stop the fight is the fact that two of the judges only had Groves up by one point, including the knockdown. But those scores are academic now.

24/11/2013 15:33:25