ON February 17 George Groves will return to the Manchester Arena. The last time he was there, Groves staged one of the most thrilling world title fights in recent years when he took on Carl Froch for the first time. Groves returns in good form, equipped with the WBA super-middleweight world title, taking on another high profile British rival in Chris Eubank Jr.
“I disliked Froch and I don’t care about Junior. That’s probably the difference. I took exception to people thinking that I was going to get knocked out by Carl Froch, I didn’t understand it,” Groves said.
“I was in a different frame of mind. I fell out with Adam Booth and other members of that team. I was going through a legal case where I felt that people were trying to steal my money that I’d worked so hard for and stuff like that. So I wasn’t in a peaceful frame of mind. Now I’m at peace. I don’t care about Junior. I’m not looking at him as an easy fight but he is a stepping stone. I’m world champion now.”
“I am the best in the division,” he added. “I still feel I haven’t really achieved my full potential. There’s a lot more to come from me. Fortunately I’m in this tournament [the World Boxing Super Series] where I can display that and even after that, there’s good options for me. I’ve been there and almost lost it all and had to rebuild several times, which is awful. I’m not going to be able to do that again. I don’t want to do that again. Every fight now could be my last fight. That’s not a problem, because I’m good enough to beat everyone in the division.”
Groves is convinced the hype around Eubank Junior has vastly outstripped his abilities. “Eubank looks good if he’s on the bag. He can punch hard and fast from his ankles, when he’s whacking something that don’t actually move. But if he’s going to get in with a fighter that has a knowing eye, that understands distance control, who can dictate the pace of the fight, he needs to work on the jab first and foremost,” Groves reasoned. “We’re all guilty of picking the opponents that make us look good. He’s done it to such an extent and unfortunately for him the profile has way outweighed the level of competition he’s been in with.”
The champion has publicly questioned Eubank’s training set up and the influence of his trainer Ronnie Davies and Junior’s father, Chris Eubank himself. “I’ve been there when I’ve switched off from a boxing coach. [Paddy] Fitzpatrick, I thought you are away with the fairies my friend. I can’t listen to you anymore. I can’t run the risk of trying to find a new trainer. I’ve got a world title fight looming … otherwise I’d have had to made a change. It took me a long time, a few losses to come to terms with this isn’t working and I don’t want to do it by myself,” Groves said. “After this fight, when he gets beaten and beaten badly, how’s he going to cope with that?
“If you’re a fighter and you’re given a date you peak for that fight. You’re taught that the very first day you go in the gym. Ronnie Davies, if he’s knew it, he’s forgotten it. The dad he must have forgotten it because I knew he used to cut weight. The son is fighting in a division that he doesn’t belong in because he’s run out of ideas. This might be reason why later on he can say I’m going back down to middleweight.”
Groves noted, “My distance control is fantastic, my reach is longer than people give credit to, my jab’s a lot faster than it used to be. These are all things that are going to cause Junior nightmares.”