- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Super middleweight titlist Carl Froch's next fight could come against British countryman George Groves, who has been installed as one of his mandatory challengers.
According to the IBF, Groves was the highest-ranked available contender when the organization reviewed its rankings and ordered a 30-day negotiation period, which began June 10.
The deadline is looming, and Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, who promotes Froch and Groves, said on Tuesday -- Froch's 36th birthday -- that the showdown could happen later this year.
"We are in talks regarding a potential blockbuster domestic fight later this year," Hearn said. "Both fighters have plenty of options, and although it's a fight we originally envisaged for next summer, if it makes sense for both fighters, neither has a problem with making it happen."
Hearn said an announcement will be made next week regarding the plans for both fighters.
Froch (31-2, 22 KOs) unified alphabet belts on May 25 when he won a clear decision in an action-packed rematch against Mikkel Kessler, who had defeated Froch by close decision in a 2010 world title fight during the Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Groves (19-0, 15 KOs, 25, has been very busy, winning all five of his fights since December, including an impressive fifth-round knockout of Noe Gonzalez Alcoba on the Froch-Kessler II undercard at the O2 Arena in London.