Hammersmith star George Groves clearly has no intention of taking the easy path to his goal of a major international super-middleweight title. In his last three title starts, ‘The Saint’, 24, has seen off the formidable trio of Kenny Anderson (rsc6), James DeGale (pts12) and Paul Smith (rsc2). Now, following almost eight months out due to injuries, he shall concede height, reach, experience and home court when he returns in a potentially awkward eight rounder with Mexican banger Francisco Sierra tomorrow evening.
The chief support to the Interim World Boxing Council (WBC) World Welterweight clash between Robert Guerrero and Selcuk Aydin at the HP Pavilion, San Jose, California shall be broadcast live in the UK on the undisputed home of TV boxing BoxNation (Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch.546) starting at 1am, with Groves expected in the ring shortly after.
This is no ‘gimme’ for Groves. His opponent, known locally as ‘Panchito’, enters with a credible 25-5-1 slate and Groves shall need to be mindful that 22 of those victims capitulated inside the scheduled distance.
Now 24, the 6ft 1in Tepic, Nayarit native was only 17 when he joined the profession in September 2005 and the five reverses that soil his slate were inflicted in company that is arguably superior to what Groves has encountered thus far.
Future WBA interim light-middle king Rigoberto Alvarez (elder brother of ‘Canelo’) outscored ‘Panchito’ over 12 in April 2006, then stopped him in 10 of a return eight months later. Columbia’s highly dangerous two-weight International Boxing Federation (IBF) title challenger Edison Miranda routed Sierra inside a round in October 2009 and, at the bottom end of last year, Phoenix’s Jesus Gonzales (then 26-1) and 6ft 4in South African southpaw Thomas Oosthuizen (unbeaten in 17) both beat the Mexican on their home turf (pts 12 and rsc 10 respectively).
However, sandwiched between those blotches, Sierra can boast very credible successes over Esteban Camou (then 22-2, but retired in seven for the Mexican title), ex Carl Froch victim Henry Porras (33-7, taken out in round nine in his native Costa Rica), one time World Boxing Organization (WBO) welter boss Jose Luis Lopez (50-4-2, yet retired after six) and Chicago’s Don ‘Da Bomb’ George (unbeaten in 21 but dropped and mastered by Sierra on a technical decision after seven).
The Mexican also held Florida’s future NABF king Dyah Davis (18-2) to a 10 round draw in February 2011. Most recently, he relieved compatriot Rogelio Ruvelcuba of his 10 fight unbeaten tag, comprehensively outscoring him over six in early June.
Plenty of pedigree then, which makes the advertised odds of 12-1 on Groves triumphing faintly ridiculous. Nevertheless, I do expect the Brit to come through what should prove a gilt-edged tutorial in his ring education.
A former dual ABA champion and current British and Commonwealth belt holder at 12 stone, Groves is yet to experience defeat after 14 paid gigs and preserving that could be decisive when the action gets down and dirty against Sierra.
Hampered by injuries to his back then nose, that scuppered his scheduled re-sit with Anderson (March) and a WBO challenge to Robert Stieglitz (May), the west Londoner will doubtless be itching to make up lost ground and emphatically restore his standing as one of Britain’s brightest future world title hopes. However, given Senor Sierra’s daunting stoppage stats, he’ll need to guard against over eagerness. Manager-trainer Adam Booth’s role in keeping him calm and composed shall be crucial.
But Groves scoured the globe as an elite amateur and, having already performed in Germany and the US as a pro, he is unlikely to be fazed by unfamiliar surroundings. Even allowing for rust, he should have a little bit too much nous and class and I expect him to advance through the odd rocky patch and prevail by clear decision. Anything more, should be viewed as mightily impressive.
Live coverage on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) will start at 1am on Sunday morning. Join at www.boxnation.com
IABA UPDATE (OLYMPIC DRAW) 1
Irish Amateur Boxing Association
Visit www.iaba.ie for full draws and times.
Katie Taylor has received a bye into the quarter-finals at the Olympic Games.
The number one seed will meet either Queen Underwood of the USA or Great Britain’s Natasha Jonas at the ExCel venue in London early next month looking to secure the win that will guarantee at least a bronze medal.
Taylor, the current AIBA World lightweight champion, has beaten Underwood three times in the past and recorded a 6-3 victory over Liverpool southpaw Jonas – who beat Seattle-native Underwood (23-15) at the Olympic Test Event at the ExCel last December – in the semi-finals of the 2011 Strandja Memorial in Pazerdjik, Bulgaria.
Taylor recorded landslide wins over Underwood at the National Stadium in Dublin and at the Arch Centre in Kildare in 2009 when Ireland beat the USA over two internationals.
She also beat the American 18-16 en route to gold in the semi-finals of the AIBA World Championships in Barbados in 2010.
Taylor will meet either Jonas, who was beaten 18-10 by Russia’s Sofya Ochigava in the semi-finals of 2012 AIBA World Championships – Taylor beat Ochigava 11-7 in the final -, or Underwood on August 6th one win away from guaranteeing Irish boxing its 13th Olympic medal.
Jonas and Underwood clash on August 5th.
Meanwhile, Paddy Barnes, a bronze medal winner at the 2008 Olympics, and Michael Conlan have both received byes into the round of 16 in the light-flyweight and flyweight classes.
Barnes will face either Abdelali Darra of Morocco or Thomas Essomba of the Cameroon on August 4th, while Conlan will “duke” it out with either Duke Akueth Micah of Ghana or Jason Olivier Lavigilante of Mauritius on August 3rd.
Surprisingly, John Joe Nevin, who is currently ranked 4th in the World by AIBA, did not get a bye in the bantamweight class.
Nevin claimed bronze medals at the 2011 and 2009 AIBA World Championships in Baku and Milan. The Irish Elite champion champion will now face Denmark’s Dennis Villy Ceylan tomorrow (July 28th) in the round of 32.
Nevin beat Ceylan 17-9 en route to gold in the quarter-finals of the 2008 EU Championships in Poland.
The Dane has also been beaten twice in the recent past by Ireland’s David Oliver Joyce and Ryan Lindberg.
Irish team captain Darren O’Neill is also in action tomorrow versus Nigerian middleweight Muideen Olalekan Akanji, while Adam Nolan is in against Carlos Sanchez Estacio of Ecuador in the welterweight class on Sunday.
Nevin (4th bout) and O’Neill (8th bout) will be on the Saturday afternoon session which begins at 1.30pm at the ExCel.
Nolan (8th bout) will be between the ropes on Sunday’s evening session which begins at 8.30pm.
Olympic Games Draw (Ireland)
Venue: ExCel London
July 28th – Last 32 (1.30pm session)
56kg – Bantamweight – John Joe Nevin (Ireland) v Dennis Villy Ceylan (Denmark)
75kg – Middleweight – Darren O’Neill (Ireland) v Muideen Olalekan Akanji (Nigeria)
July 29th – Last 32 (8.30pm session)
69kg – Welterweight – Adam Nolan (Ireland) v Carlos Sanchez Estacio (Ecuador)
August 3rd – Last 16 (8.30pm session)
51kg – Flyweight – Michael Conlan (Ireland) v Duke Akueth Micah (Ghana) or Jason Olivier Lavigilante (Mauritius)
August 4th – Last 16 (1.30pm session)
49kg – Light-flyweight – Paddy Barnes (Ireland) v Abdelali Darra (Morocco) or Thomas Essomba (Cameroon)
August 6th – Quarter-final (1.30pm session)
60kg – Lightweight – Katie Taylor (Ireland) v Queen Underwood (USA) or Natasha Jonas (Great Britain)
Irish 2012 Olympic squad
49Kg (Light-flyweight) Paddy Barnes (Holy Family BC, Belfast)
52kg (Flyweight) Michael Conlan (St John Bosco BC, Belfast)
56kg (Bantamweight) John Joe Nevin (Cavan BC)
60kg (Lghtweight) Katie Taylor (Bray BC, Wicklow)
69kg (Welterweight) Adam Nolan (Bray BC, Wicklow)
75kg (Middleweight) Darren O’Neill (Paulstown BC, Kilkenny)
Team Manager: Des Donnelly
Coaches: Billy Walsh, Zuar Antia, Pete Taylor
Physio: Conor McCarthy
Strength & Conditioning: John Cleary
Performance Psychologist: Gerry Hussey
The Path to Gold is Set for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team in London
(LONDON, ENGLAND) – The path to gold was set on Friday for the 12 members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team at the official event draw on Friday at the ExCel Centre in London. The brackets in the 13 Olympic weight classes were drawn in front of representatives from all of the participating nations. Three U.S. boxers received first round byes with the remaining nine American athletes learning the identity of their opening day opponents.
The women’s draw was done first and both flyweight Marlen Esparza (Houston, Texas) and middleweight Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) received byes in their opening round bouts. Lightweight Queen Underwood (Seattle, Wash.) will face home nation boxer Natasha Jones of Great Britain in her Olympic Games opener on August 5. Esparza will take on the winner of a first round contest between Brazil and Venezuela when she takes the ring for quarterfinal action on August 6 while Shields battles the victor of a showdown between Australia and Sweden on the same date.
Three-time Olympian Rau’shee Warren (Cincinnati, Ohio) was the lone U.S. boxer to be seeded in the 2012 Olympic Games and as the number three seed, he received a first round bye as well. Warren will take the ring for the third time in Olympic action in a second round bout against the winner of France and Afghanistan on August 3.
Bantamweight Joseph Diaz, Jr. (S. El Monte, Calif.) and middleweight Terrell Gausha (Cleveland, Ohio) open action for Team USA on Saturday with Diaz taking on on Ukraine’s Pavlo Ishchenko and Gausha battling Armenia’s Andranik Hakobyan.
Lightweight Jose Ramirez (Avenal, Calif.) and welterweight Errol Spence (Desoto, Texas) will compete on Sunday in their first round contests. Ramirez will face France’s Rachid Azzedine on Sunday while Spence takes on Brazil’s Myke Carvalho de Ribeiro.
Light heavyweight Marcus Browne (Staten Island, N.Y.) will be the lone U.S. boxer in Monday’s action, challenging Australia’s Damien Hooper in his Olympic debut.
There will only be one U.S. boxer competing on Tuesday as well with light welterweight Jamel Herring (Coram, N.Y.) facing off with Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Yeleussinov in the first round.
The two heavyweights will be the final male boxers to compete and both will challenge Russian opponents when they take the ring on Wednesday, August 1. Heavyweight Michael Hunter (Las Vegas, Nev.) will battle Russia’s Tervel Pulev while super heavyweight Dominic Breazeale (Alhambra, Calif.) faces Magomed Omarov.
The 2012 Olympic Games are a single elimination tournament and all of the 2012 Olympic Games brackets can be found on www.aiba.org.
USA Boxing, as the national governing body for Olympic-style boxing, is the United States’ member organization of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) and a member of the United States Olympic Committee.