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EXCLUSIVE: George Groves focused on Anthony Dirrell rather than James DeGale rematch

14:14 02 February 2015

George Groves (left) in action against James DeGale (right) at the O2 Arena in May 2011

George Groves (left) in action against James DeGale (right) at the O2 Arena in May 2011

PA Archive/Press Association Images

George Groves says he is fully focused on becoming WBC champion by beating Anthony Dirrell, rather than taking up an offer from promoter Eddie Hearn for a rematch against his arch-rival James DeGale.

George Groves (left) and James DeGale outside Grenfell Tower in Ladbroke Grove, London where they trained as amateurs for Dale Youth ABCGeorge Groves (left) and James DeGale outside Grenfell Tower in Ladbroke Grove, London where they trained as amateurs for Dale Youth ABC

DeGale is in mandatory position to fight Carl Froch for his IBF world title, but Froch is currently out injured and not interested in facing the Harlesden resident.

A press conference has been called tomorrow in London where the Brent & Kilburn Times believes Hearn will announce that Froch is vacating the title, meaning DeGale will fight the next in line, Andre Dirrell, for the title at the O2 Arena on Saturday April 25.

Groves said: “I really want to win the WBC belt - Anthony Dirrell is the focus.

“We are preparing for a fight. We don’t know who it is going to be against yet, but we are quietly confident that it will be against Dirrell.

George Groves and James DeGale go head to head during the weigh in ahead of their fight in 2011George Groves and James DeGale go head to head during the weigh in ahead of their fight in 2011

“Right now, I’m not really focused on anyone else. We’ve had an offer for the DeGale fight. We’ve come back with a counter offer.”

When asked about the position his former rival from Dale Youth, DeGale, is in, Groves said: “DeGale wants a big fight. You can only surmise from the outside. Hearn has Carl Froch and he has James DeGale.

“DeGale is mandatory for the IBF so that is a perfectly logical fight – it’s a big fight. It’s something I’m sure Sky would be interested in.

“If Carl doesn’t want that fight, Eddie is in a difficult position. Does he look after Carl Froch or does he push for James DeGale?

George Groves celebrates his victory over James DeGale at the O2 Arena in May 2011George Groves celebrates his victory over James DeGale at the O2 Arena in May 2011

“I think it is clear who he has chosen to look after.”

The Hammersmith man believes Hearn is keen to make the rematch against DeGale as he knows it is the one that will capture the public’s imagination.

Groves added: “Eddie is lucky because he has got a lot of dates and not enough fighters.

“He has got a lot of super-middleweights and he only ever talks about them fighting me.

Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing (right) with James DeGaleEddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing (right) with James DeGale

“I think he knows that Callum Smith vs James DeGale is not interesting. James DeGale against anyone else is not interesting.

“He needs me to carry a fighter and make a fight interesting - especially if he is trying to make big dates, sell out arenas and put on pay-per-view cards.

“It’s nice that I’m in a position where people care, but I’ve got to look after myself.

“I’ve beat DeGale already and I think that fight is always going to be there. There is no rush for it.

“I’d much rather have a world title fight against Dirrell than a rematch against DeGale.”

Despite not being part of Hearn’s Matchroom stable of boxers, Groves’ last victory against Denis Douglin in November was on Sky Sports.

With the show being pay-per-view, and the headline fight between Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly receiving a lot of criticism from the public, the managing director of Sky, Barney Francis, made contact with Groves, who helped to push up the pay-per-view figures.

Groves said: “I’ve got a very good relationship with Sky Sports.

“What I like about the big bosses at Sky is that they’ve identified me as someone they want on their channel, and they will bend their rules, so to speak, to accommodate me.”

Following his second defeat to Froch at Wembley Stadium in May, Groves signed with Sauerland Promotions and is pleased with his decision.

“I felt Sauerland would produce much better for me in my career,” he said.

“Nisse [Sauerland] lives in north London and is married to an English lady.

“Kalle [Sauerland, his brother] moved back to Germany a few years ago but they both grew up in London and went to school in north London.

“I think that’s why I get on so well with them. I keep telling them that they are west London, but they keep telling me they are from north London.

“We sing from the same hymn sheet about my career though. They are good guys, they know their sport and are good at their business and they are fully committed to me, which is exactly what I need right now.”

Follow me @RobBrennan82

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