- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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In one of the biggest all-British fights in years, unified super middleweight titlist Carl Froch will square off with countryman George Groves later this year, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn announced Tuesday.
The fight will take place at a British venue to be determined in late November or early December, Hearn said.
One of the issues in determining the date and location is trying to match venue availability with an American television date on HBO.
Hearn would like to have the fight on Nov. 23, but that likely will not work for HBO because that is the same day that it has a major pay-per-view event headlined by the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios welterweight fight from Macau, China.
Regardless of the date and venue, it's a big match between two action-oriented fighters -- the veteran three-time titleholder Froch (31-2, 22 KOs), who turned 36 this month, and Groves (19-0, 15 KOs), 25, one of the brightest rising contenders in the 168-pound division.
Before Froch avenged his close 2010 decision loss to Mikkel Kessler to unify two belts via unanimous decision on May 25 in at the sold-out O2 Arena in London, Groves scored an impressive fifth-round knockout of Noe Gonzalez Alcoba on the undercard and subsequently was named one of Froch's mandatory challengers.
"I'm delighted to have got this fight made," Hearn said. "It's a great fight for British boxing with a real throwback feel to the big domestic fights in the super middleweight division in the '90s. When George became the mandatory challenger, I knew there was no way Carl would relinquish the belt and no way that George would look anywhere else.
"This fight will grow and grow and fans can expect an exciting night and a packed undercard when full details of the fight are announced."
Groves' position as the mandatory, plus the fact he and Froch are both promoted by Hearn (making it a relatively easy deal to make) and that it is a fight that has stoked major interest from British boxing fans made it the obvious choice for Froch's third defense of his third title reign.
"I'm excited the first defense of both my belts is a big domestic clash," Froch said. "I am a proper fighter and a proper champion and I will always face my mandatory challenger rather than vacate the title. I've known George for a while. I've sparred with him and watched him grow and now he's my mandatory. I will be pouring everything into my preparation for the fight and George will face the very best of me.
"It is better this way than a low-key overseas opponent as this fight will relight memories of some of the great all-British clashes and, with world titles on the line, it's a really huge occasion and one that will grab the attention of British sports fans."
As good as Groves has looked in recent fights, he has not faced anyone the level of Froch. Groves' two most notable victories are a majority decision against onetime amateur rival and eventual 2008 British Olympic gold medalist James DeGale in 2011 and a near-shutout decision win in December against faded former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson, 43 at the time, who lost a more competitive decision to Froch in the semifinals of the Super Six World Boxing Classic in 2011.
Groves knows that facing Froch is a whole different ballgame.
"This is the biggest fight of my career and being a world champion is something that I dreamed of as a kid," Groves said. "I'm well-ranked across all the governing bodies but fighting Carl is the one that I wanted the most. He is a big name in the U.K. and a well-respected champion around the world, and I have a great team around me that can put together the right game plan to beat him and become a world champion and a major force in the super middleweight division."
Before making the fight, Hearn said there also was a chance of a Froch-Kessler rubber match with a Groves fight coming after that.
However, Kessler is undecided on his future after the loss to Froch in their grueling fight.