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Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

December 7, 2016

Christmas comes early for Groves

Enzo Maccarinelli

Groves has fought four times in 2016 with one eye always on a fight with Fedor Chudinov.

by Shaun Brown

Christmas came early for George Groves today.

The British super middleweight three-time world title challenger (25-3, 18 KOs) received the present that he had been waiting on, after taking a call from his promoter Kalle Sauerland to confirm that Groves will face Russia’s Fedor Chudinov (14-1, 10 KOs) for the vacant WBA super middleweight title in the early part of 2017.

“I had a couple of missed calls from Kalle Sauerland which is a little bit earlier than he usually calls me, so it was either really good news or really bad news!” Groves told Talking Boxing earlier today.

"I called him and he said we’ve got the written confirmation from the WBA, which is obviously what we expected, but you’re waiting for that Christmas present. It’s lovely to get it through.

"It's the best Christmas present you can get. Picked up a turkey this morning, put that back down! Keep me off the mince and pork pies. It’s nice to tick over during Christmas because you do go soft. Lovely to have a spring in the step.”

Sauerland and Chudinov’s promoter Vlad Hrunov have until January 5 to sort a suitable deal for all parties. If that doesn't happen then it will go out to purse bids. Groves is quietly confident that the fight will take place in the UK.

"If I was a gambling man I’d say it’s going to be in London. I think they know I have a value in the UK, much more than he has a value anywhere else. I’m sure in an ideal world they wouldn’t want to come to London, but they’ve travelled before.

"I think London’s a realistic venue and then it’s all down to who wants to fight. There’s a lot of big fights, a lot of interesting fights happening in Britain in the early part of next year so you’ve got to slot in to those fixtures. The general feedback already is that people are excited. Hopefully it’ll be a big night."

Groves has also received positive feedback following his fight on (free to air channel) Channel 5 last month against Eduard Gutknecht. Groves is no stranger to fighting on various networks having fought on the likes of Setanta, Sky Sports and Channel 5 in the past. And Groves says happy to fight on any network.

"I’m just excited about the fight more than anything else, but the feedback on Channel 5 was great. Lots of people were able to see it. It does open you up to a wider audience. It does have a value. That being said, if it’s on Sky Sports of course I’d be ecstatic. If it’s on BT that’s great news. I’ll box on any channel right now."

The fight against Gutknecht was Groves’ fourth of the year, his busiest period of activity since 2013. Groves told TB that fighting often and getting momentum was always the plan.

"We started early in January. Although it was headlining London it wasn’t necessarily a big fight, it was definitely going to be a busy year. Then back on a big few undercards, raising the game, raising the level of opposition. Then finish off with a big fight, a great fight to see out the year.

"I think it’s gone just right. Had a bit of a rest the middle part of the year so it hasn’t been so hectic. I’m actually in a position now, even after two weeks off from the last fight, that I’m raring to go, ready to train, ready to give it my all. I think it’s worked out well for me. Timing couldn’t have been better."

And in facing those four opponents; Andrea Di Luisa, David Brophy, Martin Murray and Gutknecht, there has always been one eye on hopefully facing Chudinov. A fighter that Groves has monitored for a while now.

"Obviously, this year I’ve had the Martin Murray fight, I’ve had the Gutknecht fight. They’re both well known for being tough and rugged, technically sound boxers. I think Chudinov fits that description. He’s a very typical Russian type fighter. Technically very good. Strong, fit, he probably doesn’t do anything exceptional.

"There’s not one thing that he particularly has to rely on. He’s a sound, well rounded pro. I’ve had a great year. It’s been a momentum building year towards a Chudinov type fight. I think I’m in the best possible place."

Groves’ last win against Eduard Gutknecht sadly ended with the Kazakh-born fighter collapsing in his dressing room afterwards. Gutknecht was then taken to hospital where he had surgery for swelling on the brain. Gutknecht has since been moved to a hospital in Germany.

"I went and saw him last week," said Groves.

"I met his family. It’s really sad, but he’s got a lovely family. I hope for the best for him. He’s a fit lad, he showed that on the night. He’s strong, and that’s the best thing he’s got going for him right now. I wish him well. He’s stable but he’s in the same position."