“WE watched the stoppage nine times.” It is the morning after Carl Froch has struck down George Groves with a single straight right hand in front of 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium. Paddy Fitzpatrick has been Groves’ trainer for only two fights, both of them losses to Froch. “I went to see him the very next day,” Paddy continued. “He said he’d already watched the stoppage twice. I just kept replaying it and I didn’t plan to do that before I got there. As he was watching it I was trying to be aware of the energy that he was giving off as I was watching it. It wasn’t one of somebody that wanted to turn away or wasn’t ready to face it. He studied it with me. So then I thought, ‘Okay, let me play it again and play it again.’ I wanted to play it enough times so that it would bring up some emotion.”
DEAL WITH YOUR EMOTIONS
Fitzpatrick’s style was to address the emotional aspect of defeat first. “When a man takes part in an event like he did, the emotions attached to it will come up in you,” the trainer explained. “To address it you’ve got to think about it. You’ve got to relive it. If you’re reliving it, and you’ve got any passion about what you’re doing, there’ll be an emotion attached to it. But us ordinary men implode or fold when that emotion comes up and people such as George don’t. My reason for doing the things I did was to try and bring those emotions up sooner rather than later, because they would come up at some stage. I would prefer they come up early so he has time to think and adjust.”
BACK IN THE DEEP END
Fitzpatrick took Groves to the Big Bear training camp in America to spar with middleweight Gennady Golovkin, one of the world’s elite boxers and one of the biggest punchers in the sport. “That was about trying to bring up the emotions. I wanted him to know, and not wait till fight time to find out, I wanted him to know: ‘I’m George Groves, this is my level, this is where I’m at.’ I didn’t tell George that’s why I was bringing him,” Paddy continued. “But I didn’t need to tell George, did I? I wanted George to go out and approach that as he would any sparring and see how he would perform and he performed excellently because he was in with such a high-calibre man as Golovkin and because everything was different, four-minute rounds, 30 seconds’ rest, 100-degree heat.”
ANALYSE YOUR MISTAKES
The fight with Froch had been close up to the moment Carl delivered the decisive blow. But it would have done Groves no good to dismiss the finish as a fluke. “It wasn’t a lucky punch,” Fitzpatrick declared. “There’s no such thing as a lucky punch. You get in the ring knowing the other man’s trying to hit you in the head. So how is it lucky? Whenever you get hit in boxing, it’s because you made a mistake. But we only watch boxing because guys get hit. So we watch the sport of boxing to watch two of the best guys in the world constantly make mistakes. The art of a great fighter is that he can constantly make adjustments, but some things you don’t have the chance to adjust to.
“If I, as a coach, allow myself to even believe it was a lucky punch, well then I’m ignoring something that needs fixing.“We have to analyse it, without emotion, and make it just a technical thing in order to deal with it. Because it is real, it is technical and it canbe fixed. Whereas something lucky, what can you do with that? You can’t practise to be lucky and you can’t practise to be unlucky. “You want to take control of it.”
Fitzpatrick revealed Groves’ routine during his camp: “In a typical training day he spends three hours in the gym on his boxing. We get to the gym at 10 in the morning, we’re there till roughly 1, 1.30pm and then he goes and does his runs and that with [conditioning coach Barry O’Connell] and then he will do heavy strength sessions twice a week.
“He has a rest day from the gym on a Thursday and a Sunday. “He runs in some form five days of a week… Some of them are 11-mile runs, some of them are sprint sessions, some of them are five and six-mile hard, hard runs.
“He will do his sparring, his technique, his mitts, everything that we do [in their morning session]. Every day is slightly different. We do work technique every day but some days are purely technique and some days are a little bit of technique and then hard graft. “One day might be for working inside, the next day might be we’re working outside, the next day we might punch hardly anything because it’s all about footwork. In order to become a complete fighter you’ve got to break it down.“I don’t plan too hard because every day something that he does in the gym will bring upsomething new. “We have a completion date that we have to be ready by and then how much time we have before that date and then break down the camp into the sections that we need him to take care of.”