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A matter of time

Groves is confident he can win a world ititle with Shane McGuigan in his corner

SHAUN BROWN

The wait for George Groves to become a world champion may finally be coming to an end.  
  
For many it’s long overdue. And let’s not forget that the Londoner (24-3, 18 KOs) has been down this road before. Three times in fact.

The story of Carl Froch v George Groves has been told so often that we almost know it word for word. Manchester, Howard Foster, Wembley, 80,000 people and so on. That was 2013. Then came Badou Jack. A WBC champion that pipped George at the post in Las Vegas two years later.

On those three occasions Paddy Fitzpatrick had been in the corner. The ground work for the first Froch fight had been covered by Groves’ former trainer Adam Booth, but still it was not enough.

Things are now different for Groves. There’s an air of calm in his career, a confidence and faith in his new trainer Shane McGuigan. 

Speaking to Talking Boxing and RING magazine’s Tom Gray last Friday night in Edinburgh, we asked Groves about his last win and performance against Martin Murray. An all-British super middleweight fight that some had billed as a 50-50. The winner got to stay at the party, the loser told to go home and have a long hard think about his future.

“I liked that it was going to be billed as a 50-50 and people would buy into [it],” Groves said. 

“The very first round I remember landing a very nice clean right hand, and I thought I’ve already found my range here and I knew I’d be able to build from there.

“I didn’t expect to get rid of him. I thought there would be a last attempt, a last onslaught.”

Murray, who has spent most of his career at 160lbs, gave it his all and certainly had his moments when he looked to have troubled his opponent late on. The 118-110 scorecards from the three judges ringsid was a fair assessment as to how clear the victory was for Groves. Three fights, three wins for Groves and new cornerman Shane McGuigan.

“It was a fight for me that made sense,” he said.

“I always thought it was going to be a comfortable fight. I thought his style would be something I’d be able
to figure out.

“Great win, good momentum fight. People are now starting to give me a bit more credit which is nice. A lot of people felt I was past my best. I’m working with a new team, Shane’s certainly getting the best out of me and there’s certainly a lot more to come. And I think the best of me hasn’t been seen yet. I feel like I’m making improvements. We’ll only be able to truly see those when I’m fighting for world titles against the very, very best.”

“People are now starting to give me a bit more credit which is nice.”

It was a sentence that seemed unfamiliar to Groves. Something his own vocabulary wasn’t used to. I
asked if he believed that getting credit from people is something he has had to fight for in the past.

“I turned pro with a couple of ABA titles and I was a good fighter, a ticket seller. I knew I had to prove myself.

“I didn’t sign with a big promoter. I signed with Hayemaker. I signed because I liked David Haye, and I wanted to train with Adam Booth. It was a hard slog. I was going from different promotions to different channels, fighting on different shows all over the world. I gained great experience for it, but there was always question marks looming.

“When I had the first fight with Froch it didn’t go my way. Second fight certainly didn’t go my way, and then I did have a few lacklustre performances after that, and it was due to the training I was doing. I was with a coach, that y'know, it didn’t work but it’s tough to pull yourself out of those situations.

“I’d already left a coach and got a lot of stick for it, and there was always a big fight on the horizon. There was always a world title fight or a rematch, or we’re pushing final eliminators and then had to wait nine months for the Badou Jack fight. It was a tough time, but then I was able to put that to bed and rebuild.”

And that rebuilding continues in his fourth fight with trainer Shane McGuigan, while promoted by Sauerland, against Eduard Gutknecht on November 18 at Wembley Arena live on Channel 5. It will be Groves’ second defence of his WBA International super middleweight title.

Gutknecht, 34, should be there or thereabouts in a fight that Groves should dominate in, and shine in as well. A fine way to close out 2016, Groves hopes. And then it’s full steam ahead with plans for a fourth world title shot in 2017.

“I genuinely would be happy to fight absolutely anyone. From a business sense, I’ve stamped my flag in the ground with the WBA. They’ve got two belts but I want to fight for the super belt.

“Felix Sturm has vacated [the title]. The messy thing about that is he’s tested positive (for the anabolic steroid stanozolol). On paper he’s a drugs cheat. He shouldn’t be allowed to vacate; he should be stripped. But there’s obviously some procedures got to be done and I respect that.

"If he did get stripped that’d go directly to [Fedor] Chudinov and I’d want to fight Chudinov. I think Chudinov would see that as a tough fight and would probably want one [fight] in first because he’s been out of pocket for a year. I imagine Chudinov will fight for the vacant belt against a lesser opponent.”

It seems like it is just a matter of time before George Groves fights for another world title.