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Groves: If DeGale can win a world title so can I

07:00 30 January 2016

George Groves (left) with his new trainer Shane McGuigan. Pic: Lawrence Lustig

George Groves (left) with his new trainer Shane McGuigan. Pic: Lawrence Lustig

LAWRENCE LUSTIG

George Groves is looking to an unlikely source for motivation as he chases an elusive world title – his arch-nemesis James DeGale.

The much-publicised feud between the pair, which stemmed from their time at Dale Youth ABC in Ladbroke Grove, came to a head in May 2011 when Groves overcame the Harlesden fighter, having also beaten him at amateur level.

The power dynamic between the pair has since shifted, though, with Olympic gold medallist DeGale capturing the IBF super-middleweight world title by beating Andre Dirrell, and then defending it against Lucian Bute in November.

Groves, on the other hand, has lost all three of his world title fights. After his infamous back-to-back bouts with Carl Froch, the 27-year-old lost on a split decision to WBC champion Badou Jack four months ago.

Like his first loss against Froch, it was a fight that could have gone either way. But rather than feeling sorry for himself, the Hammersmith man has come back with all guns blazing and is looking towards the future with optimism.

Ahead of his comeback fight against Andrea Di Luisa at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday, Groves told the Times: “There wasn’t that much in it [against Jack] and if it was in another part of the world maybe I would have got the decision.

“Do you want to sit around and moan about it, wish it never happened and give up or do you just want to get stuck in and work hard, like you’ve been doing your whole life, to get where you want to get? There’s only one option for me and that’s to carry on.

“Full credit to James DeGale on winning the world title and then defending it. It shows that he is obviously good enough to become world champion and operate at that level. I’ve already beaten the guy [DeGale], though, so if he can do it then so should I. That fight is there for both of us when it makes sense.”

Now under the tutelage of new trainer Shane McGuigan, after previously parting with Adam Booth and then Paddy Fitzpatrick, Groves believes he could make the difference as he aims to capture a world title at the fourth time of asking.

“I think Shane’s a world-class trainer,” he said. “I feel chuffed that we’ve started to work together and I think I’m improving as a fighter working with him.

“It’s only the one and two per cents that you’ve got to improve on to make a difference at world level and, working with the whole McGuigan family, I’m in a far better place than I’ve ever been.”

Groves added: “I had to make a change and I think I’ve made one for the better. I’m looking forward to starting a new journey with a new team and making headway towards a world title challenge.”

McGuigan, who also trains IBF super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton and heavyweight David Haye, is full of praise for his latest asset.

He said: “I’ve always thought George was a fantastic fighter. I’m trying to get the best out of him and I think he needs to get back to winning ways again, get in the right headspace and start enjoying his boxing, because the fact is that he wasn’t enjoying his boxing before.

“He was isolating himself and he is a person who thrives on other people being around him.”

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