George Groves will refuse to fight Carl Froch unless the British Boxing Board of Control sanction neutral officials for their super-middleweight world title rematch at Wembley Stadium.
The 25-year-old Londoner has claimed the May 31 rematch, mandated by the IBF, will not go ahead unless the BBBofC allow a non-British crew of match officials.
Groves labelled the ninth-round stoppage by referee Howard Foster that handed Froch a controversial victory in November a “stonewall” robbery.
Promoter Eddie Hearn backed Groves’ call for neutral officials, claiming the keenly-anticipated rematch will be the “biggest fight in British boxing history”.
“It was a stonewall robbery first time, everyone knows it, and that’s why I’ve requested neutral officials,” said Groves.
“It’s conditional on the fight going ahead. I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe in everything happening for a reason.
“Maybe I had to go through that decision, that first fight, to get to the point where I can fight at Wembley, in my home city, in front of my home fans.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this fight now. The first fight we went in believing: now we go in knowing.
“More importantly Froch knows. Apart from the gift in the ninth round last time out, he’s got nothing. He’s absolutely spent.”
Groves nonchalantly completed a Rubic’s Cube puzzle while Froch responded to his claims at Monday’s press conference at Wembley Stadium to launch ticket sales.
Promoter Hearn backed Groves’ call for neutral referees, but refused to apportion any blame to Foster for Froch’s November victory.
“I feel the officials for this fight should be neutral,” said Hearn.
“It’s too big to have any blame or controversy.
“Howard Foster is a top-class official. George has made it clear to us he doesn’t want British board officials on the fight on the night.”
Hearn expects ticket sales to hit 80,000, that would set a new post-war British attendance record.
Nottingham-based Froch conceded he took Groves too lightly in their first meeting, but was not prepared to delve into the detail surrounding his victory.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion on that fight,” said Froch.
“But what I think about the stoppage is totally irrelevant.
“All I know is that it was controversial, and that’s why we’re here. There’s going to be no question-marks this time around.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than this. The platform to showcase my skills, I’m just so, so excited.
“To be given this opportunity, it’s wonderful and we must take it with both hands. I’m excited this opportunity has come along at this time.
“To fight in an outdoor event of this magnitude, the last time I can remember anything like this was Ricky Hatton at Manchester City’s ground.
“I can remember looking over my shoulder, just seeing a carpet of people, and thinking ’this is amazing’.
“I didn’t think I’d get an opportunity like this, so it’s extremely humbling.”
Groves’ trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick revealed he has written to the BBBofC, asking them to confirm Froch’s fitness to box.
Unfazed 36-year-old Froch admitted he is yet to undertake his routine annual medical, but did not expect any complications.
“Actually I’ve got to go through my medicals, so I can’t officially answer that yet,” he said.
“We have an annual medical, we have a brain scan and we know what we’ve got to do.
“You don’t want to tempt fate, and you don’t want to talk about what can be a dark side of boxing.
“I’m fit, sharp and ready, there won’t be any question marks come May 31.”