GEORGE GROVES says he chose Jamie Cox for his first World Boxing Super Series fight because he is the “easiest route.”
As reigning WBA champion, Groves was top seed in the super-middleweight tournament and chose fellow Englishman Cox.
The pair will meet in their quarter-final later this year, and Groves feels Cox is the ideal first step toward his goal of winning the tournament.
“You weigh up all the factors and it’s the most sensible choice for me. It’s always good to have a domestic dust up,” he said.
“I don’t think Cox is big enough as a super-middleweight, I don’t think he’s had the tests that I’ve had, he hasn’t been hit as anyone as I do. He is not frightened to fight dirty, he gets his head involved but we won’t stand for any of that. The biggest risk I thought for me is that you need to preserve yourself because the fights come around so quickly. I felt capable of beating any of the four unseeded guys but I think Cox is probably the easiest route. I’m not afraid to say that. I’ve been ballsy in the past and it hasn’t worked but this is about winning the whole thing.”
Groves and Cox also have history, as they were roommates for a spell when they were both a part of the England amateur squad many years ago. Back then, Cox was boxing as a light-welterweight.
“Without trying to sound patronising, I was on the squad before him. He was brought in and we roomed together. I showed him round a little bit,” Groves said.
“When we were in the same junior category, we were pals. It was a long time ago. I never sparred him as he was a light-welter. He was a bit older than me so he moved up and won the Commonwealth Games. He was a bit cliquey and never spoke to me after.
“I can’t remember [how he was as a roommate]. He never elbowed me, headbutted me or punched me in the nuts when we were rooming together. I think he was polite and clean. He was alright.
“This is metaphorically and for real this is his world title fight and his biggest fight ever. I had to have three or four eliminators, slug my nuts off and fight for peanuts to win a world title. This has fallen into his lap. I have done him a favour, maybe he should buy me a drink.”
Though Groves is no stranger to the big stage, this is Cox’s first real taste of it and George questions whether the Swindon man is ready for such a demanding tournament.
He said: “There are unbeaten prospects in there. Cox might be better than people give him credit for. I think size will be a big factor, he also looked very nervous. I wouldn’t want to be picked first.
“It doesn’t need to be trash talk. I picked him because he is the weakest. He already tried to give me some stick on stage – something about not drinking. He might have seen me downstairs with an empty glass of champagne. He looked out of his depth here, there are a lot of big names here.”