Sunday, April 02, 2023  |


George Groves: Rediscovering the fire

George Groves (right) tags WBC super middleweight titleholder Badou Jack with a right hand. Photo: Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

The last place where you want to have a bad day is in a boxing ring.

In an office you get shouted at by your boss. You may even get a warning or a disciplinary action. In the ring, however, you get punched around for several rounds, or you get knocked out.

British super middleweight star George Groves (24-3, 18 KOs) has been there over the last three years. The intellectual Englishman was stopped twice by countryman Carl Froch and also dropped a razor-thin majority decision to the underrated Badou Jack. Three world title fight defeats left Groves disconsolate and short on answers.

Prior to the Jack setback, against Christopher Rebrasse, the Londoner seemed to have lost a step; he wasn’t sharp and his established right-hand power punching lacked potency. A change was obviously required and after replacing trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick with Shane McGuigan, Groves began a positive rebuild, which led to a decisive victory over Martin Murray in June.

“I liked that it was billed as a 50-50 (fight) and people would buy into (it)”, said Groves, who won a 12-round unanimous decision over the former world title challenger. “I always thought it was going to be a comfortable fight. I thought his style would be something I’d be able to figure out.

“In the first round I remember landing a clean right hand, and I thought I’ve already found my range here and I knew I’d be able to build from there. I didn’t expect to get rid of him. I thought there would be a last attempt, a last onslaught.

Groves continued, “Great win, good momentum fight. People are now starting to give me a bit more credit which is nice. A lot of people felt I was past my best. I’m working with a new team, Shane is getting the best out of me and there’s certainly a lot more to come.”

This Friday, Groves, who is rated No. 4 by THE RING at 168 pounds, will have the perfect platform to show off more new wares. “The Saint” faces former world title challenger Eduard Gutknecht (30-4-1, 13 KOs) on Channel 5 in the U.K. and victory over the Germany-based Kazakhstani will likely lead to a fourth world title shot.

“(Gutknecht) is not a household name over here by any stretch of the imagination but I’m expecting a tough test,” acknowledged Groves. “He’s only been stopped once on an (eye) injury (against Dmitry Sukhotsky) and he’s been in there with the best.

“He’s tried and tested, he was a good amateur and it’s going to be a tough and worthy fight. It’s what I asked for. I didn’t want a knock over job. I wanted something where I can look good and hopefully get the momentum to move on and challenge for a world title.”

A stoppage victory over the previously unbeaten Scotsman David Brophy in April gave Groves an international title. The 28-year-old boxer-puncher is currently ranked No. 3 at super middleweight by the WBA but such is the muddle with that organization atop the 168-pound division, it’s difficult to ascertain what the hell is going on or what’s coming next.

Felix Sturm defeated Fedor Chudinov to claim the WBA title in February. Then his A-sample tested positive for an anabolic steroid (stanozolol). Then he vacated the belt due to injury. Then his B-Sample tested positive last week. And, by the way, Giovanni De Carolis claimed the WBA “regular” title by stopping Tyron Zeuge on Nov. 5. And a partridge in a WBA tree.

Groves said, “Sturm vacated (the title). The messy thing about that is he’s tested positive. On paper he’s a drugs cheat. He shouldn’t be allowed to vacate; he should be stripped. But there’s obviously some procedures to be done and I respect that.

“If he did get stripped that (title) would go directly to (Fedor) Chudinov and I’d want to fight Chudinov. I think Chudinov would see that as a tough fight and would probably want one (fight) in first because he’s been out of pocket for a year. I imagine Chudinov will fight for the vacant belt against a lesser opponent.

“I genuinely would be happy to fight absolutely anyone. From a business sense, I’ve stamped my flag in the ground with the WBA. They’ve got two belts but I want to fight for the ‘super’ belt.”

All going well, Groves will get another opportunity to fulfill his goal of becoming world champion. Will it be fourth time lucky?

Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing