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  • Traditionalists will tell you boxing was more staid in the old days. But between bareknuckle rivals posting challenges on the walls of 19th Century taverns and the press conference punch-ups of the present day, hype has never been out of fashion.

    What is true is that in this era of pay-per-view television, in which punters sitting on their sofas are every bit as important as backsides on seats at the venue, hype is more crucial than ever.

    Carl Froch and George Groves have two more chances to bump up interest for their rematch at Wembley Stadium on Saturday - Thursday's final news conference and Friday's weigh-in. Stand by for nonsense.

    BBC Sport wades into the murky history of fight hype and makes the following plea: if anyone finds boxing's moral compass between now and Froch-Groves II, please let us know where it is.

    John L Sullivan, boxing's first gloved world heavyweight champion,  liked to boast that he could "lick any man in the house". But it was Muhammad Ali who transformed boxing baiting into an art form.

    Ali dubbed Sonny Liston the "Big Ugly Bear", Floyd Patterson "The Rabbit", George Chuvalo "The Washerwoman" and George Foreman "The Mummy". But it was Ali's poetry and one-liners that really got the tills ringing.

    Before his first bout with Liston in 1964, when Ali won the world heavyweight crown for the first time, the challenger quipped: "I bet you scare yourself to death just starin' in the mirror." Before his first bout with Patterson, Ali said: "I'll beat him so bad he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on."

    Ahead of his third bout with Joe Frazier, Ali started experimenting with rapping: "It will be a killa and a chilla and a thrilla when I get the gorilla in Manilla." So it was, and millions tuned in.

    Ali was the greatest PR man ever, but American promoter Don King is the master of hyperbole. "This is a grudge fight that goes beyond the realms of reality," was how King described the rematch between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank in 1993.  "It is an atomic bomb waiting to explode."
    Wednesday, June 4, 2014 11:23 PM