Stellar British and Commonwealth title wins over James DeGale and Paul Smith in 2011 established Hammersmith super-middleweight George Groves as one on British boxing’s brightest young lights.
However, injury has led to inactivity, but now restored to full health and fitness, the 24 year old Adam Booth managed starlet makes a welcome return to service this weekend, albeit at the HP Pavilion, San Jose, California, when he faces off with dangerous looking Mexican Francisco ‘Panchito’ Sierra. (BoxNation broadcast live from 1am, Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546)
Prior to his departure, Groves reflected on his recent difficulties with boxing writer Glynn Evans and mapped out the path that he believes will conclude with a world title over the next 12 months.
How do you reflect on your second round stoppage win over Paul Smith at Wembley last November? You appeared shaken by a right at the close of round one, before executing masterfully a round later.
I view it positively without a doubt. The shot I took didn’t register, genuinely didn’t affect me but I was irritated I’d made a silly mistake. I’m a notoriously slow starter, always make defensive mistakes first round before I hit my rhythm and clearly that’s something I need to try and stamp out.
The right hook I finished Paul with is a very dangerous shot to throw as it leaves you exposed but he left a gap and I pounced. I was very impressed he managed to get up, albeit a bit shakily. After that, it was just a case of not letting him hold and landing another clean one on his noggin. I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity.
It was something of a surprise when you opted to team up with Frank Warren, manager of your nemesis James DeGale, last year. Explain!
Previously in my career I’d had the advantage of sailing through on David Haye’s slipstream, featuring on his big Hayemaker shows and profiting from the TV exposure they brought. David and Adam (Booth) always really looked after me. But when doors started to shut for David last year (following his defeat to Wladimir Klitschko), they also shut for me.
When Frank got wind I might be seeking a promoter, he showed a very strong desire to have me boxing under his banner. I had a few offers but Frank’s was easily the best.
You can’t blame him for thinking his man, James DeGale, would beat me cos everybody did! However, after I beat James, I think Frank started to seriously take note of me.
Clearly, because Frank has been involved with James longer, he has a better, personal relationship with James than with myself at the moment. That’s not a problem. In fact, it’s nice to see he’s a loyal man. But Frank knows boxing and he knows I have a bright future, in what is a very exciting weight division. If I keep winning I know I’ll have Frank’s backing.
You’ve made it clear you’re in no hurry to grant European champion DeGale a rematch, despite him having better marbles than you at the minute. Are you concerned you could be pressured into one before your choosing?
I’m only interested in looking after myself. If a rematch is to our benefit we’ll oblige, if it isn’t we won’t. For me, getting to the height of the division, fighting the elite, making continual, steady improvements, is what I’m about. I want to get on with my career.
James winning and retaining the European title doesn’t bother me at all. It keeps our return alive and makes for another huge, lucrative attraction. I’d certainly like the European title at some stage and mine and DeGale’s paths are definitely going to cross again at some point. Everyone saw how big it was with just British and Commonwealth belts at stake. Imagine how huge it could be if it was a world title unification with everything on the line…..if he ever gets that far!
We’re both doing our part. It’s good that James is improving, too. I want our third fight to be relatively competitive. I don’t want to be accused of abusing him!
In March, you pulled out injured on the brink of your highly anticipated British title rematch with Kenny Anderson, then, almost immediately signed to challenge Robert Stieglitz for the WBO title in Germany which naturally aroused suspicions. What’s your take?
About two and a half weeks before the Anderson fight, I picked up a back injury in sparring. We told nobody and had treatment every day but I couldn’t run or spar and eventually, unfortunately, I just ran out of days.
I was confident that I could beat Kenny Anderson without that training or sparring – I’d done some great work in the build up – but I had a fitness test and Adam pulled me out. I had just one CV session and that’s not ideal before a 12 round British title fight.
So I was on recovery before the Anderson fight but just didn’t have enough time for that date. Then, when I was offered the Stieglitz fight for the WBO title….what do you do? Hang around for someone you’ve already beaten by stoppage in six rounds or go for the world title?! No brainer!
Champion Stieglitz had lost just twice in 43 at the time and was defending his belt for the sixth time. What made you so confident that you could topple him over in (Erfurt) Germany?
I had to go to Germany because they won the purse bids but I knew I had the tools to not only beat Stieglitz over there but to stop him.
Robert’s a well accomplished fighter but I was very confident my style beats his. He throws a ridiculous volume of punches which would be very difficult to match and, even if you did, you won’t get the decision over there. But because he throws so many, he has to leave gaps and I know I’d capitalise.
What exactly happened to force your withdrawal?
I was preparing in Cyprus, had quality sparring, mountain runs, was getting my swims in, when I got a serious whack on the nose in sparring which dislocated the cartilage and forced me to pull out about three weeks before.
It was soul destroying, knowing all the hard work I’d put in had come to such an abrupt end. Because it was potentially the best payday of my career thus far, I’d been racking up the training expenses. Sitting back in my villa, in the dark, after the realisation, was the lowest ever moment of my boxing career.
But Stieglitz fights Arthur Abraham in August and, with me being mandatory, I think it’s realistic that me and Steiglitz still fight for the world title before this year is out.
In the interim, you’ve been training alongside David Haye for his epic demolition over Dereck Chisora. Inspirational?
Absolutely. Since pulling out the Stieglitz fight, I’ve done loads of sparring with David and other heavyweights plus some young frisky kids like Alan Higgins and Patrick Mendy who keep you sharp with all their nervous energy.
Dereck Chisora is a good fighter –what a chin – but David showed that when he approaches a fight correctly, he’s a great fighter. His shots were so hard, fast and crisp. David has this aura, this winning mentality which makes it really good to be around him.
What do you know of Saturday’s opponent Francisco Sierra and what are you hoping to get out of the contest?
I’ve seen a bit of footage but don’t know too much. He seems like he’ll let his hands go with spite and intent but I welcome that as it means he’ll leave a lot of target. Make him miss, make him pay.
I can’t wait to get over there for a bit of sunshine. It don’t f***ing stop raining here! This fight will provide me with crucial US TV exposure on Showtime and an opportunity to get my buzz back. I want to prove to Adam Booth that I can do the stuff in a fight, which I’ve been showing in the gym.
As I’ve only had a round and a half in over 14 months, the main thing I’d like would be to get some rounds. But I always have the intention of getting my opponent out of there as quickly as possible. I don’t intend artificially dragging it out.
The 168lb division has one of the deepest talent pools in the sport. How far do you believe you are from a punch-up with a Froch, Ward, Bute or Kessler?
Not that far. I always rise to the challenge in front of me. I’m very confident I’d have beaten Stieglitz. But, ideally, I’d prefer more fights to constantly drill in the improvements I know I’ve been making in the gym and, provided I’m kept active, there’s no need to rush. Already I can box long or trade but there’s loads more layers I can add. I intend becoming a well oiled machine that can chop and change for any opponent, have answers for all of ‘em.
Live coverage on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) will start at 1am on Sunday morning. Join at www.boxnation.com
GREATER DISGRACE: THE PACQUIAO-BRADLEY “REMATCH”
By Reni M. Valenzuela: If a question can be a disgrace because it is offensive and contemptuous, the greater disgrace would be a condition where there is an apparent compelling need to ask the question when the answers stare everyone in the face.
Why the Pacquiao-Bradley II is a disgrace to boxing and the fans?
This is the plight of the sport in our time. Thus, for the benefit of the few remaining reprobates who are yet to get out of the dark or “dark” and for the sake of naïve souls who may be swayed to stray, here are the answers that are legibly carved in huge stones all over the lighted places:
First is the rematch will lay credence upon the hilarious and ridiculous finding of the Nevada Attorney General’s Office that there is no conspiracy in the Pacquiao-Bradley robbery last June 9 without having to interview, as reported, any one of the three judges who are the key persons involved in the controversy. They’re kidding us.
Second is the rematch will ultimately pave the way to the full implementation of the grand design by major players who are perfectly blended to be in cahoots with each other in the grandest of all drama in the recent past and from the very beginning of the plot. Jellylike “experts” who insist on their self-serving hollow arguments to push through with the rematch boil down to this grand superfluous washout.
Third is the rematch will have boxing and the fans subjected to further injustice and “tricks” as a result of the highly anomalous “WBO rules” of not overturning the judges’ official decision despite having ruled in their review and re-scoring of the fight that Pacquiao won over Bradley by a wide margin.
Fourth is the rematch will perpetuate the magical powers of certain masters in boxing in order to fool the fans anew and gain millions more of “duped dollars” as is always the case whenever they are allowed to hatch a preconceived and pre-planned rematch, “legally” backed up by the grossly detestable “WBO rules” to which all creatures are commanded to bow down.
The rules are mainly intended to create artificial needs for rematch. Hence the same rules expose certain bigwigs as false gods who have the penchant to occasionally produce apparitions to decorate their double-talk and peddle their double-dealing productions.
Fifth is the rematch will make funny clowns of the people and boxing as a sport, knowing full well that there is no reason or “reason” to stage a rematch if the fight was judged correctly, notwithstanding dubious elements before and during the fight and which could have otherwise made Pacquiao win in a spectacular fashion. But who didn’t see that?
Hence allowing the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch to take place will make the “fans” even funnier clowns because a “blockbuster rematch” is exactly the very purpose why there is such irregularity that occur in boxing, by way of the “WBO rules,” en-route to bigger Mafia business.
Sixth is the rematch will make Manny Pacquiao the greatest fool of all fools since Pacman himself declared to the world right after the shocking decision was announced, “in your heart, you know who won the fight.” So, why is there a need to fight Bradley again? It’s a simple kindergarten arithmetic. And why succumb to fall for a trap? It’s a plain toddler ABC alphabet.
Showman Bradley is a skillful boxer who may also be just a victim of the circumstance. He has real good bouts that await him on the horizon which would enhance him as a talented champion in his level. But for him to engage again Pacquiao in a rematch could serve to be his career waterloo and may signal an early retirement for him as a boxer.
Seventh is the rematch will cause Pacquiao to lose the respect of millions of his fans who would naturally feel insulted if he insists on wanting to get the welterweight championship belt back to himself by fighting Bradley for the second time because that would not only render useless but negate the resounding legitimate uproar by the fans, people and media all over the world due the anomalous official judging or “official erroneous” judgment of the fight. Such would be a vicious naked blow against the entire boxing world.
Eight is the rematch will make boxing a universal laughing stock in the minds of planet dwellers who have common sense throughout the whole of galaxy which may include Java men, Neanderthals and Cro-magnon primitives inside modernized ancient UFOs.
Belt is just leather. Only Esau or Judas would want it in exchange for truth and justice. Heart is life, and that’s what matters. And that ought to settle the issue. In fact, Pacquiao should have stood his ground in protest of one of annals biggest boxing larceny involving Pacman himself. It is ironic that he insisted he won over Juan Manuel Marquez in their highly controversial third encounter last year when he should have done the gesture now that he was clearly robbed of the win versus Bradley. Wonder of wonders.
Meekness is strength under grace that is never mindlessly subservient. And meekness may fold on its knees but is most powerful to withstand any test to prevail unshaken, side by side with the truth.
Ninth is the rematch will not make money, but will make just piles of garbage. It may rather set a record-breaking boxing event in history where no one single human being would watch in the arena and on cable TV/theaters, only remnants from the world of blood-sucking vampires. Hence under such scenario and since boxing today is business much more than sport, Bob Arum and company would certainly not take the risk of staging the Pacquiao-Bradley II, lest they defeat themselves and crumble their respective self-contained “kingdoms” to pieces.
Tenth is the rematch will further waste time, momentum and opportunities for Pacman to continue to shine and shine even brighter by avoiding or missing to take on exciting “real-challenge” and “good match-up” opponents in the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez, Saul Alvarez, Robert Guerrero and Adrien Broner.
To boxing as a sport and to the fans who are humans, bon voyage!