When George Groves walked into Manchester’s Phones4u Arena last November he entered the ring a villain, but by the end of the night he left a hero.
The rematch to a night that will be forever sewn into boxing’s history is almost upon us, as Carl Froch and Groves prepare to sweat blood and tears in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.
Groves’s sheer lack of respect for the 4-time world champion last time round was something which riled Froch, who saw the cocky challenger as little more than a ‘domestic’ fighter.
After a long and successful career, taking part in 22 title fights, Froch deemed Groves, 26, an unworthy challenger and did not believe Groves was worthy of sharing the ring with him.
Within minutes of the first round the Nottingham fighter was sent crashing back down to earth, or more specifically to the canvas.
“I took George Groves lightly and almost paid severely,” Froch told BBC Sport.
“I got a little bit comfortable at home with my partner and two kids. I couldn’t really be bothered; I wasn’t really motivated to do what I needed to do to perform.”
What started out as a mandatory title defence for Froch has evolved into what is now being heralded as the biggest fight in British boxing history.
Even Michael Buffer, the man whose booming introductions have graced some of the biggest boxing events for more than a quarter of a century, will be doing what he does best on Saturday.
Last time round, Froch, 36, had been looking ahead to big money fights against world-renowned opponents such as Mexico’s Julio César Chávez Jr and Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin.
There was even talk of a much sought after rematch with America’s unbeaten Andre Ward – one of only two fighters Froch had lost to in his 34-fight pro career.
Groves, the boy from London, was small-fry, but he was also the mandatory challenger to Froch’s IBF super middleweight title.
If he wanted to keep his belt, Froch had no choice but to fight young pretender.
“Maybe I didn’t give George Groves enough respect,” Froch said. “I listened to too many people, telling me he’s not in my league, he’s not fought anyone, he’s got no chance.
“I started to believe it, which was unprofessional.”
What happened in round one is now the stuff of boxing legend, when Groves stunned the packed crowd after dropping Froch, a man who has never been knocked out, with a straight jab.
Groves let his former sparring partner know he wasn’t there just for a pay-check, and punished Froch for deeming him less worthy.
“Everyone talks about the first round, when Carl got dropped, but round six was probably the worst round that Carl has ever had,” Groves told BBC Sport.
“He likes to talk about round six as a turning point, but I was still going about my business in the seventh and eighth and he was still getting hurt in the ninth.”
After displaying superior speed and movement for much of the fight, just as he said he would, Groves began round 9 most likely ahead on all three judges’ scorecards.
However, as he has proved time and time again in his career, Froch displayed a warrior’s heart, and landed a barrage of punishing body shots.
Before Groves had time to respond the referee had stepped in to stop the fight. Froch was victorious.
“Howard Foster made a terrible decision and I felt wronged and robbed. We felt he was possibly influenced by the build-up to the fight and the occasion,” Groves said.
“During the build-up, I was billed in the media as this guy who can’t go 12 rounds, who’s out of his depth.
“They said that when Carl Froch landed a shot on me, I was going to get stopped. I was a victim of all of that.”
It left a sour end to what was one of British boxing’s most memorable nights.
Groves felt like he was robbed, and the crowd did too, as they booed the man they had championed less than an hour before. They had found a new here in George Groves.
It also left a sour taste in Froch’s mouth, a man who is used to fantastic support wherever he goes.
He wants to prove the outcome of the first fight was no fluke. He wants to prove just why he is the champion.
“I gave him the advantage in the first fight, allowed him to get comfortable and let his shots go, Froch said won’t be taking a backward step in this fight, ” Froch said. “George, you’re getting stopped and you’re potentially getting hurt
“I will make it an intense, heated battle. I’m going to take the centre of the ring and I want him stood there with me having a fight because there’s only going to be one winner. The sooner we meet, the sooner the fight’s over in my favour.
“The referee isn’t going to jump in this time because of all the noise he made after the first fight. Be careful what you whinge for.
“I’m looking at doing some serious business on him. Without going into details and getting into trouble, we all know what that means, and it’s bad news for George Groves.”
It’s unlikely that Froch’s war-cry will un-nerve the Londoner, who has already proved he’s not scared of the veteran champion.
Like any young sportsman, Groves is not short on confidence, and firmly believes the world about to witness one of the greatest upsets in the history of the sport.
“If I perform like I’ve been performing in the gym, it might not even be a fight,” he said.
“And if I want it to be like Hagler-Hearns, I can make it like that because I can beat Carl for hand-speed, foot-speed and I can hurt him.
“It doesn’t matter how Carl approaches this fight, he’s just not good enough. My trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick is talking about a five-round fight, I’m talking about a three-round fight.
“Carl will have to wait and see.”
As will the millions who will be tuning in from around the world on Saturday night.
In the words of Bruce Buffer: “L-l-l-l-let’s get ready to rumbl-l-l-l-le!”