GEORGE GROVES recently sat down with me to help promote his next fight, the WBC final eliminator and European super-middleweight title challenge to Christophe Rebrasse, but – probably due to me – the storied rivalry with Carl Froch cast a wide shadow over proceedings. Here are Groves’ thoughts about that chapter of his boxing career.
I did embrace it because I felt you had to and I want to be in massive, massive fights. Of course it’s much nicer not having to do that, you can concentrate more on training, you do have more time to rest and that’s certainly what we needed for this fight because we want to spend as much time in the gym as possible.
The overall experience
There’s mixed emotions. The first fight we felt was over too soon but we didn’t really have much time to think about it – we campaigned for the rematch, got the rematch and went straight back in. The last fight, we felt we were winning, controlling and were going to come on strong, which was always the game plan. The fight was over with one punch. It wasn’t where I was starting to wilt or starting to get caught more, there wasn’t a changing of the tide. It was one punch, a mistake. I was on the wrong side of ‘the line’, I know Carl Froch steps to the left with a one-two, I decided to hook at that time, left my chin open, he threw the best punch of his career, the fight was over. That’s frustrating because it was one mistake and it cost me an awful lot of hard work I put into that fight. I felt it was gonna be my time; it wasn’t. It was a fight where if that was gonna happen, it was gonna happen then, with the pressure of 80,000 people, with the massive build-up and everything that was at stake. It’s boxing, you can’t complain about it, it’s the reason you love it most, because it can be over in a split second and it is the most brutal of sports. The knockout didn’t hurt at all [laughs] but it’s everything else that hurts an awful lot more. I feel I belong at that level. If they said, ‘Do you want a rematch with Carl Froch?’, of course I do, I feel I’d beat him any day of the week; two fights, two losses, but still I’d beat him any day of the week, it’s the same mentality, it hasn’t dented my confidence. At the highest level, anyone’s capable of it and I’ll certainly take that on the chin [pun intended].
How this fight differs
It’s a little bit different. It’s nice, quite refreshing. I really enjoyed the build-up to the Froch fight, it was fun, there was plenty to do and talk about, but there’s still plenty to talk about for this fight. Fortunately for me, I feel it’s a legitimate fight – a European title fight against a good opponent with a good record, a WBC final eliminator, so there’s a lot at stake here, apart from my career – I don’t really fancy losing for a third time on the spin. I wouldn’t be satisfied with just a low-key, easy win, for me this is the best fight possible, it’s given me the motivation to really crack on in training. The build-up’s totally different, there’s no animosity between us, he’s a nice enough fella, I want to keep him nice and placid then punch him with something hard in the first round and wake him up a bit. It’s nice that so many people have stuck by me after the last fight and are now coming to support me in my new chapter.