George Groves talks Christopher Rebrasse, targets Anthony Dirrell
When George Groves meets Frenchman Christopher Rebrasse at the Wembley Arena in London on Saturday he will be performing the metaphorical exorcism. The haunting presence of Carl Froch has occupied the British super middleweight’s thoughts for over a year and, following a brace of high profile defeats to “The Cobra”, the talented 26 year old is intent on leaving the past behind.
“We haven’t seen Rebrasse box in the UK but I watched him on YouTube and he has my respect,” said Groves, who is THE RING’s No. 4-rated super middleweight. “He’s a solid opponent, the European champion, and certainly not someone that you want to take lightly. I can’t afford to underestimate him but, at the same time, no more slip ups.
“Recently I’ve been competing at top level, but the last thing I want to do is take my eye off the ball because I’m fighting someone at European level. It’s a big fight for me, the European championship is on the line and, having won British and Commonwealth belts, this completes the set.
Groves continued, “I was close to fighting for this title before and a few contractual issues prevented it from happening. Some quality fighters have gone after British, Commonwealth and European belts, before winning a world title, and that’s the plan for me now. This fight is also an eliminator for the WBC championship, so if I win then I’m right back in the picture.”
Despite maintaining his professionalism, and work ethic, Groves could be forgiven for coming into the Rebrasse bout somewhat downtrodden. The rematch with Froch was the hottest ticket in the world, over the summer months, and a post war record attendance of 80,000 fans filled Wembley Stadium for a colossal event.
“We’ll find out on the night if the so called comedown affects me,” said Groves, with a tone which suggested the opposite. “We plan for this to be a hell of a show and the story continues apace. We’re fighting at Wembley Arena, which is a great venue; Michael Buffer is doing the announcing, and my own entertainment value is fully established.
“I packaged my rematch with Froch, orchestrated it and, in the end, I sold it. When Carl Froch was hiding away in camp which, looking back, was the right thing for him to do I felt obligated to promote the event. We’re fighters, but we’re also in the entertainment industry and therefore we should be committed to putting on a great show for the fans.
“Being involved in this next fight is very stimulating and my promoter, Team Sauerland, is more than happy to listen to any ideas I may have. They’re aware of my experience and know that I have a solid knowledge of the British market but, everything else aside, my main focus is on winning.”
Almost a year ago Groves entered the first bout with Froch as an unbeaten contender with bucket loads of confidence. Following a controversial stoppage the Londoner captured the hearts of a nation, before “The Cobra” regrouped and sunk in his fangs. The shuddering eighth round knockout, which was devoid of any controversy, was painful to accept but Groves’ fires are now fully rekindled.
Groves said, “If the Froch experience had convinced me that I’m simply not good enough for world level then that would be hard to deal with, but we were unlucky twice. I would gladly take on Carl in a third fight and be confident of winning and, while people may laugh at me for saying it, that’s how I feel.
“My trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick, and I have plenty of belief in my ability and now all we need is some success and a strong performance. That is what we’ll have this Saturday night and we’re looking forward to getting back to winning ways against Rebrasse.”
If successful Groves has his eye on Anthony Dirrell, who dethroned Sakio Bika for the WBC super middleweight title last month. Groves has completed several rounds of sparring with the unbeaten American in the past and, during a recent discussion with RingTV.com, revealed that his preference was to face him over Bika.
“I watched the Bika and Dirrell rematch because I keep an eye on all the big fights at super middleweight,” said Groves, who is 19-2 (15 knockouts). “Dirrell won the fight and he’s a very nice guy. I know he’s been a bit animated since he won the fight but, despite anything he might say to the contrary, he’ll definitely see me as a threat.
“The plan is to make a statement against Rebrasse and then fight Dirrell as soon as possible. Although I don’t see me being vaulted to the number one spot with the WBC, which I believe is held by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, I’m still within touching distance. I just need to win this fight on Saturday and there will be plenty more action to come in the super middleweight division.”
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing