George Groves was on the wrong end of two defeats to Carl Froch, the second was the highest-grossing fight in British boxing history.
As he prepared for his return to the ring, on September 20 at Wembley Arena against France’s European super-middleweigt champion Christoper Rebrasse, GG ventured to the USA to start training with GGG, sparring world middleweight ruler Gennady Golovkin.
How was it sparring with Gennady Golovkin?
It was great. Fantastic. Obviously sparring is one of the hardest things to nail down in pro boxing and when the opportunity comes to spar world class guys you’ve got to take them. They come few and far between once you’re challenging for world titles and you get to a higher level so to have an opportunity to spar one of the guys who, in my opinion, is one of the best pound-for-pound at the moment was great. He was a week away from a fight, he was fit, and I was relatively in early stages of camp so it was good to get thrown in at the deep end and workout with a great fighter. We were doing four-minute rounds, we did four rounds the first day, four rounds the second day and a few other bits and pieces after that.
Is he the best you’ve sparred, having been around now?
It’s difficult to say because I’m a better fighter than I was a few years ago when I was sparring guys like [Andre] Dirrell and [Giacobbe] Fragomeni, he’s obviously right up there, one of those guys you can hit hard, but he’s in there doing his thing and he’s good at what he does and I’d love to get sparring with him again.
Was he a handful to spar?
You had to be on song. You couldn’t show up switched off because I think he would certainly make you pay for it but, like everything, you want to go out and give a good account of yourself. You never know how someone will treat sparring. Do they spar light, do they spar heavy, so you have to show up with the right frame of mind.
You’re fighting again in September, looking forward to it?
Yes, of course, I can’t wait. Rerbrasse is a handful. He’s got a good record, he’s European champion, he’s big for the weight, he’s got a champion’s mentality and he’s going in with a guy who’s just been beat. I’m sure he’ll be up for it and that means I’ve got to be up for it. It’s an important fight, to say the least. It’s more important than any other fight I’ve had. I’ve had to step back and reset my path for a world title and I think I’m fortunate that I’m in a position where I’m fighting for the European title and in a WBC final eliminator so win this and we’re right back in the game. But, I’ve still got to go out there and perform well. It’s obvious to say I will be going for a win but I will be going for a good win, a spiteful win, a bloodthirsty win. It’s something I’ve been craving for a long time now and I haven’t got it and I’ve had two losses in my last two fights. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to put your finger on sometimes because in both cases I don’t think I was outperformed. I was unlucky in the first fight and I was caught with a shot that would have put most people away in the second. That can happen in boxing. You make one mistake and that can be one mistake too many. That’s what I did so we have to eradicate all mistakes. We’re working to be as complete a fighter as possible. The story continues. It spices things up a little bit. We’re back in at a good level and I can’t wait to go out there and get what seems like a long overdue win.
Does it all seem a bit surreal looking back on Wembley and the whole Carl Froch rivalry?
Well, it is weird and I’m not sure exactly when the magnitude or the comedown will sink in, maybe it has already. But you see it, you sense it in the people around you, in the media, in the average guy on the street, they’re not quite as excited about any other fight as they were about that. It was a history-making fight and I can arrogantly say that the reason for that was me, because I was involved in it. I instigated it, orchestrated it, packaged it and I sold it. I made everyone a lot of money, entertained a lot of people and ended up on may back at the end of it looking up at the sky and thinking, I can’t have it all my own way, I suppose! But I think I still certainly carry a value and hopefully whether people like me or not they will think I have delivered something to British boxing and I’ve played my part in the last year or so and will do for the next few years to come because I think I can fight. I can definitely fight. I just need to get out there and remind people of that.
Will you stay with Paddy Fitzpatrick as your trainer?
Yes, I am. I got knocked out because I made a mistake. It wasn’t Paddy’s mistake. I’m not looking to blame people. I don’t understand when a fighter’s made a mistake and they’re looking to shift blame or make excuses. I think Paddy’s a wonderful coach I think, like myself, probably unproven at world level but he brings a lot to the table for me. I feel like every time we’re in the gym together I learn something new, it’s stimulating and I want to stick by him because I think we need some success because we put in an awful lot of good work together and we haven’t had any rewards for it yet. But that will come.