Froch vows to cut Groves down to size
All of the laughter has left Carl Froch's eyes and it is unlikely to return until about midnight on Saturday night.
Six months ago, Froch beat George Groves and there were jeers as he walked back to his changing room; it was somewhere between the weary steps he took from the bloodstained ring and his arrival this week for the fight that the fun vanished from his smiling eyes.
"Back in the changing room I was still champion," says Froch.
"I still had the belts, I had defended my title and there was the usual elation."
There had been, Froch acknowledges, some booing as he made his way back after the win.
In the ring the referee, Howard Foster, had jumped in, grabbing Groves and hauling him away from Froch's fists in round nine of a memorable fight.
Groves had dropped Froch in the opening round, defied the form with his speed and was in front on all three scorecards when Foster called the fight off.
Foster stopped the fight because Froch had caught and hurt Groves and had him trapped on the ropes.
"Some people were booing and I understand that because they had paid good money and it was an unnatural end to the fight," says Froch.
"I knew they were the same people that had been cheering when I was putting the punches together and hurting Groves."
Groves talked about fixes, illegal interventions and being the victim of a false reputation for having no chin. The night grew uglier in Manchester as the minutes ticked away and by about 2am there were dozens of outrageous conspiracy theories.
"I admit that it didn't hit me right away," says Froch.
"I did agree that the fight was probably stopped just a few seconds early. The ref still did a good job."
Foster made his brave play last November and he made that decision because he knew that right at that precise moment Groves was in trouble and any talk of corruption is farcical.
Froch had options on the table in the fight's aftermath, including never fighting again, but even before the IBF's ruling, the numbers attached to a rematch were too impressive to ignore.
This Saturday, Froch will make more in a British ring than any other man in history and could walk away with as much as £8million.
"It has been hard at times and I did think about walking away," says Froch.
There was also the moment when the riches from a rematch became apparent and as Eddie Hearn, the promoter, says: "Money talks – it was always going to happen."
The build-up has included several skirmishes and that is why 80,000 will traipse through the turnstiles at Wembley Stadium in anticipation of the conclusion of round nine and the completion of the first fight.