George Groves returns to the ring on Saturday evening at London’s Copper Box Arena in his quest for a fourth world title opportunity.
The ‘Saint’ has endured a turbulent couple of years within the boxing sphere. A crushing defeat to Carl Froch at Wembley Stadium in May 2014 was followed 16 months later with a nail-biting split decision loss to Badou Jack in Las Vegas.
It was Groves’ third consecutive disappointment in world championship contention and left the Londoner in disarray with the sport. An immediate split with trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick surfaced as well as a public announcement to distance himself from the game for a period time.
There’s no doubt that is was a very dark time for George Groves and one in which took time to overcome.
However, negotiations with promoters Nisse and Kalle Sauerland helped the ‘Saint’ rekindle his love for the sweet science and the search for a new trainer started. A number of leading names were in the mix including Rob McCracken, Abel Sanchez and Tony Sims, even Freddie Roach and Floyd Mayweather Sr.
It was Shane McGuigan though that Groves eventually teamed up with. A short meeting in November immediately convinced Groves that McGuigan was the right man for the job.
The geographical location of the gym, along with former training partner David Haye’s advice, swayed the three-time world title challenger to hire 27-year old McGuigan as his new head-trainer.
A fight with Italian super-middleweight Andrea Di Luisa awaits George Groves this Saturday in what looks to be the perfect comeback fight. The 33-year old was stopped by Lucian Bute inside four rounds last year and has previously been defeated by Christopher Rebrasse, a fighter Groves conquered in 2014.
It is more than just a comeback fight, however.
This will be George’s fourth consecutive bid for a world title and surely his last. The talented boxer hasn’t enjoyed his time in the ring throughout the last 20 months but is convinced that he has the necessary steps in place to make this run one of success.
There’s no doubt that Groves possesses the skill to win a world title. His jab is regarded as one of the best in the division along with his ability to quickly judge the distance and range in his fights.
He does though need to combat the mental scars from continued disappointment throughout the last couple of years. The new link with Shane McGuigan should help and regain his inner self-belief with likes the Carl Frampton and David Haye surrounding him.
(Shane McGuigan previewing this weekend’s fight on Sky Sports news):
It is important, too, that Groves and his team leave the past in the past. Persistent jibes at former trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick does not show the 27-year old in the greatest light.
His former coach had been blamed for Groves’ tactics in the latter stage of the Badou Jack fight and shouldered much of the blame for the result. In order for the Saints to move forward, this must be put to bed.
All in all, it looks set to be a potentially exciting year for George Groves no matter which route he opts to take. He is still a massive draw in the UK and a fight with bitter-rival James DeGale will also attract interest. There are also potential opportunities on the domestic scene with Callum Smith, Martin Murray and Paul Smith.
The WBC have kept the Englishman highly-ranked in their organisation which offers the Londoner hope of a quick-fire return to world title contention. He must first prove that the new partnership with Shane McGuigan is one of success and cohesion before entertaining such speculation about future plans.
Here’s the details ahead of this weekend’s fight:
Venue: Copper Box Arena, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Hackney Wick, London, United Kingdom.
Time: TV coverage starts from 7.30pm (UK and Ireland)
TV Channel: Sky Sports 1
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