GEORGE GROVES believes he has to win his upcoming fight for the vacant WBA super-middleweight title against Fedor Chudinov – as it is likely his last chance for a world title.
The Londoner, who has lost in three previous attempts at world titles, fights Chudinov at Bramall Lane on May 27 as chief support to Kell Brook vs Errol Spence.
The pre-fight betting favourite can feel that training is slightly more taxing nowadays and knows that victory is the only option if he wants to continue at the top level.
“Yeah, I think so at 29. There’s things with the body that does take that little bit longer to get the weight off, you ache a little bit more after the sessions stuff like that,” he said.
“It’s good, but it is now or never. Baby at home 10 months, I want to spend some time with him. The sooner I get this cracked, the sooner we’re all on our way and there’s certainly a lot of things I want to achieve before I hang up my gloves. Definitely no more time to be wasted and ultimately it should be my last crack because how many chances can one guy have, you know?”
In 2013 he was stopped by then-WBA and IBF champion Carl Froch before suffering the same fate in their Wembley Stadium rematch the following year. His third world title shot came in 2015 when Badou Jack dropped and outpointed him in Las Vegas.
He split with trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick – who had replaced Groves’ original trainer Adam Booth – after the Jack loss and teamed up with Shane McGuigan, however he almost packed it in altogether.
“After the Badou Jack fight I was thinking [it was not meant to be], it’s in the back of your mind, that ticking clock; well, whatever you want to do, make a decision now,” he admitted.
“What feels like a lifetime, it isn’t really, it might be a few weeks, six weeks, and you’re back looking for coaches. I lost in September and I boxed in January, in that period I decided on Shane and done a camp.
“There was a period there when I thought, ‘it’s not right for me,’ but it didn’t last long. Of course I want to win a World title, I want to unify, I want to do all those things, but right now I just like winning, I just want to win the next one, once I win the world title, winning won’t be enough.”
He concedes that his spell with Fitzpatrick did not work, that they were not compatible. Things seem different under McGuigan, especially after Groves defeated Martin Murray last year.
Groves also admits there is a sense of desperation around this world title bid, but knows how to keep that in check.
“I think there will be elements of it, the best way to get rid of the desperation, the pressure or anxiety, is to be fully prepared,” he said.
“Fully prepared as in everything is on point. I thought everything was on point, but deep down I knew it wasn’t, for the Badou Jack fight.
“I actually had a bath before the fight – which I don’t usually do – and thought, ‘all I’ve got to do is win this fight and then it will all click,’ rather than be up for a fight.
That’s how I feel in the gym lately. That’s great, we’re well on our way now to getting there, getting in the changing room, feeling sharp. I felt like that for the Martin Murray fight, you know, in the changing room, you feel alive, like your blood is pumping a little bit faster. You’re in a good place. Fitness is good, weight is good, sparring is good. They’re the three main components for me, once they’re all on point and we get it right in fight week, get up to Sheffield – it’s a bit of a trip this time.”
Though he’s suffered setbacks, Groves does not feel he has excessive miles on the clock but he is also determined to not be a ‘nearly man’ who is remembered for losses, rather than victories.
He came tantalisingly close to beating Froch in their first fight and Jack defeated him on a narrow margin. This time, Groves intends to change his fortunes.
“I don’t want to be; ‘I was unlucky that time, I’ve lost the fight because I’ve been robbed, I’ve lost the fight because I’ve been knocked out, because I didn’t do enough,’ you know what I mean? I’ve covered all bases now. Let’s get it right. I don’t feel like I’ve been bashed up or exposed, or anything like that.
“I’ve fallen short, I climbed to the top of the mountain and I just didn’t do that last 10 feet, I’m walking around going, ‘where’s this fucking flag?’ I come back down again. I want to go to the top.”