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Hungry Groves wants Olympic revenge


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Hungry Groves wants Olympic revenge

 

By Duncan Bech, Press Association Sport

 

The rematch could be three years away but boxing fans are already growing animated by George Groves' collision course with James DeGale.

 

For Groves it is a fight that must happen, sparking a British rivalry that has been speculatively compared to the Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Michael Watson era - without a punch being thrown.

 

Throw in Olympic bronze medallist Tony Jeffries, Geordie prospect Travis Dickinson and maybe Carl Froch in his twilight years and the super-middleweight division is full of possibilities.

 

But it is the prospect of Groves and Olympic gold medal winner DeGale colliding as professionals that really excites.

 

As amateurs at west London's Dale Youth ABC they fought just once, Groves edging a majority decision in 2006 en route to winning the first of two successive ABA titles.

 

The decision irked DeGale but any disappointment was eased by his qualification for the Olympics and subsequent gold medal triumph.

 

DeGale, emboldened by a lucrative contract with Frank Warren, turned pro amid great fanfare but has yet to capture the imagination and has become a target for the boo-boys during his three outings.

 

In contrast, Groves has blazed through six opponents in less than a year and will next be fighting on the undercard of David Haye's Sky Box Office Heavyweight title fight with Nikolai Valuev November 7.

 

The 21-year-old hopes to face an opponent ranked inside the British top 10, but can not help turning his mind towards continuing his mastery of DeGale.

 

"It doesn't matter where I go in the country, people come up to me and say 'when are you going to shut James DeGale's mouth?' Poor old James," he said.

 

"We don't see each other now so we don't need to get on, but the things that have been said are true - I will knock him out.

 

"He's got this complex where he sees me as child. When we grew up he was always older, bigger and heavier.

 

"He saw me as little George Groves who used to spar with him, but then I bashed him up in the ABAs and haven't spoken to him since. But our paths will cross again.

 

"James went pro and sold himself, irritating a lot of people along the way. He was booed on his debut and that was a good wake-up call for him.

 

"People forget he was booed when he won the Olympic final, and that was by the Chinese crowd.

 

"He blamed the Cuban fans (DeGale fought Cuban Emilio Correa in the final) but how many of them were there in Beijing?"

 

Groves was beaten to the middleweight berth on Great Britain's Olympic squad by DeGale despite his victory against him two years earlier.

 

At two years his junior, Groves had just stepped onto the international circuit and as is common for newcomers found himself boxing in countries where bad decisions were frequent.

 

When the time came for head coach Terry Edwards to look at his potential squad for Beijing, DeGale's recent international record read seven wins from eight bouts, Groves' five from 10.

 

"For a short time I thought it was my gold medal because I'd already beaten James. That's not how I feel now though," said Groves.

 

"When James was winning at the Olympics I didn't know what to feel. It was a real mix of emotions - anger, frustration and also happiness that GB had won gold."

 

The ultra-confident DeGale has alienated many by making some bold predictions for his career which his three professional fights to date have done little to support.

 

It is also hotly debated whether he will be able to modify the hit-and-run style that served him so well as an amateur into a formula for success in the professional ranks.

 

Groves, a more heavy-handed and aggressive operator, has made faster progress by staying busy and taking challenging fights. By Christmas next year he hopes to become British champion.

 

"James' problem is his style isn't very entertaining. He's a negative southpaw who doesn't like to fight," he said.

 

"Since I've turned professional I've realised he was an out and out amateur in terms of style.

 

"Fair play to him because he won an Olympic gold medal that way, but we're professionals now.

 

"It's no longer about flicking and running, it's about entertaining. He won't be able to run from me for 12 rounds.

 

"He's dropped down to middleweight already and there's one reason for that - he wants to avoid the big names in the division, guys like me and Jeffries.

 

"Our paths will cross within the next three years if he can keep up with me.

 

"I'd love to think we can create a rivalry of the Benn, Watson, Eubank variety, but these guys will have to keep up with me.

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