George Groves sees Denis Douglin as a calculated risk on Cleverly-Bellew card
British super middleweight contender George Groves will face New Jersey’s Denis Douglin on the undercard of the Nov. 22 rematch between former light heavyweight titleholder Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport announced on Thursday.
Groves (20-2, 15 knockouts) gained his first win in over a year with last month’s unanimous decision over Christopher Rebrasse in a WBC eliminator at Wembley Arena in London.
“We’re pleased to get George out on another big UK show. He will face a tough test against Douglin and cannot afford to look past him,” said Nisse Sauerland, Groves’ promoter. “George will need to approach this as if it were a world title fight or could risk losing the WBC mandatory position.”
In victory over Rebrasse, Groves, 26, recovered from back-to-back losses in the ninth and eighth rounds to IBF titleholder Carl Froch in November and May, respectively.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring. This is a chance for me to impress on a big card. I plan to steal the show,” said Groves, who became the the mandatory challenger to beltholder Anthony Dirrell.
“It’s a calculated risk. Lose this fight and I lose my shot at Dirrell. But I want to stay active. I want to box as regularly as possible and I’m confident I can get the job done.”
Known as “Momma’s Boy” because his mother is his trainer, Douglin (17-3, 10 KOs) has won three consecutive bouts, two by knockout, since losing back-to-back by fifth-round knockout to Jermell Charlo in June 2012 and unanimous decision to Jose Angel Rodriguez in January 2013.
Douglin, 26, won his last fight in June by unanimous decision over Charles Whittaker.
“This is a big opportunity for me. Win this fight and I’m a step closer to realizing my dream of becoming world champion,” said Douglin.
“Groves is a great boxer. It will be a tough fight but I’m ready to cause an upset. I’m coming to fight my fight and to beat Groves on his home turf.”
On a card to be broadcast by Sky Sports on pay-per-view in the United Kingdom, Bellew is 6-1-1 with four knockouts since losing by majority decision to then-WBO titleholder Cleverly in October 2011 at Echo Arena.
But since becoming a cruiserweight, Bellew, 31, has scored knockouts over Valery Brudov in March and Julio Cesar Dos Santos in July. Bellew last suffered defeat by sixth-round stoppage to RING light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson last November.
Cleverly, 27, has also excelled since rising into the cruiserweight division, having scored knockout victories over Shawn Corbin in May and Alejandro Emilio Valori in July. In victory, Cleverly bounced back from a fourth-round knockout loss to Sergey Kovalev, who took his WBO 175-pound title in Aug. 2013.
Also on the Cleverly-Bellew card, RING No. 3-rated junior featherweight Scott Quigg will fight Japanese contender Hidenori Otake, RING No. 8-rated bantamweight Jamie McDonnell faces Walberto Ramos and super middleweight Callum Smith has a tough one opposite former title challenger Nikola Sjekloca.
In addition, 2012 Olympic gold medalist and heavyweight Anthony Joshua takes on Michael Sprott and RING No. 5-rated 2008 Olympic gold medalist James DeGale meets former title challenger Marco Antonio Periban in a 168-pound match-up.