George Groves: World Champion in 2013
By PETER BRODERICK With his next fight penned for Dec 15th against Glen Johnson, George Groves already has his sights set on conquering the world next year. “Johnson is a great name and it will be a fantastic fight to end the year with before looking at a world title shot in 2013,” Groves said as quoted by thesun.co.uk. This is a bold statement for any boxer to make especially since the titles are now heavily guarded by Andre Ward, Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham. But to me Groves looks like he is one of the fighters that is capable of backing up his claims.
I’m not saying he’s going to be world champion by 2013 or that he’d be a favourite in any of those match-ups but from what I’ve seen of him so far in his career he has all the tools in his armoury to mix it with top level fighters and is becoming increasingly skillful in the ring and looking extremely polished in spite of the fact he’s had as few as 15 fights.
He has an impressive amateur record to go with his 15-0(12 ko) pro record, an amateur record which could have been even better if he wasn’t pipped to Olympic selection by arch rival James DeGale who he’d already beaten as an amateur and who then went on to win a gold medal. Since turning pro he’s gotten rid of most of his opponents early, DeGale again proving his sternest opposition kept him busy for the full 12 rounds but didn’t do enough as the judges gave the majority decision to Groves. I was at the fight and I agree with the decision although if it had gone DeGale’s way there couldn’t have been many complaints. But if the fighter’s were so closely matched and still have a similar standing in terms of achievements(Groves: British and commonwealth champ, DeGale European champ) why do I think Groves is the most likely world champion next year and why not other up and comers such as the Dirrell brothers? The answer for me is his Adaptability.
Floored early against the hard hitting Kenny Anderson, Groves had his first real welcome to the world of professional boxing, instead of panicking or becoming overly aggressive or rash and leaving himself open his concentration seemed to improve and he set about out-classing Anderson and KO’d him in the 6th. One KO later he took on DeGale who was touted as British boxing’s future, the golden child from the Olympics, almost every pundit expected DeGale to outbox Groves calling him a ‘classier’ boxer, but he and his trainer Adam Booth devised the perfect plan to beat DeGale who’s game is to counter punch. They invited him on, and forced him to be the aggressor, they traded often and then Groves would slump on the ropes, dodge a punch or two and then duck out again, repeating this over the 12 rounds. Every time DeGale became frustrated he came forward and got tagged. In truth it was a close fight but it would have likely been a very different outcome if Groves had carried on into the fight with his usual aggressive style against a solid counter-puncher like DeGale. His next fight against solid British opposition in Paul Smith looked like a mismatch before the fight started and this was proven right as Groves demolished the journeyman within 2. He was cut early by a clash of heads against Francisco Sierra and looked like he could be in danger as his vision was obstructed by blood streaming down his eye, but this again didn’t phase Groves as he scored another stunning KO, this time at the end of an terrifyingly accurate and powerful 4 punch combination.
His next fight against Glen Johnson will be a win too although possibly not a KO as he seems almost impossible to get rid of. Bernard Hopkins being the only fighter to manage it and that was at middleweight 15 years ago. After that it will be a tune up fight in early 2013 and then most likely a world title shot. Groves I’m sure will be hoping his chance comes against someone like Froch who I think Groves has a legitimate chance of beating(The huge difference in hand speed being the reason) or Abraham who would likely be Groves’ first choice and someone I think Groves could really outclass. A nightmare scenario for Groves would be if Ward got to these guys first because if Ward unifies the titles I can’t see him relinquishing his grasp on them for a long time as he is truly a cut above the rest of the division, but I don’t see that happening as Groves is ranked 7th in the world and due a world title shot sooner rather than later.