Title trail isn't too far away

PUBLISHED: 18:25 14 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:43 24 August 2010

By Ben Kosky AMBITIOUS George The Saint Groves says he is targeting a regional title shot at the start of next year. The Hammersmith super-middleweight is preparing for only his sixth fight as a professional on Friday, but has earmarked a challenge for

By Ben Kosky

AMBITIOUS George 'The Saint' Groves says he is targeting a regional title shot at the start of next year.

The Hammersmith super-middleweight is preparing for only his sixth fight as a professional on Friday, but has earmarked a challenge for the Southern Area championship in 2010.

"I've got so many things to look forward to, I'm really buzzing about it and come the beginning of 2010 I'm ready for titles," Groves told the Times.

"There are matches to be made, but I'm not one to head for a minor world title that doesn't mean anything. You've got to prove your worth and work your way up.

"Tony Salam's Southern Area title would be a good one to aim for, then you can move on to British or European. Once you hit European, a world title's just around the corner.

"I've just signed a contract with Frank Maloney and I'm confident he can make it happen. I feel that, as well as my trainer Adam Booth, I've got another wise head to turn to."

Groves is fighting on a Maloney show for the first time this weekend, with two other ex-England amateur internationals, David Price and Olympic bronze medallist Tony Jeffries, also appearing on the bill, which is televised by Sky Sports.

The headline act, at Seaburn Leisure Centre, Sunderland, will be Jason Booth's British super-bantamweight title clash against Michael Hunter, and Groves is relishing the chance to showcase his talent at a new venue.

The 21-year-old had previously appeared live on the now defunct Setanta Sports channel, but this will be his first opportunity to perform in front of a Sky audience.

"I've never been to Sunderland before and I'm excited about it," Groves declared. "There are some big boxing fans up there and you can't just stay in the same region if you want to build a fanbase around the nation.

"I boxed in Liverpool earlier in the year and the amount of people who came up afterwards and spoke to me was incredible.

"Some of them even came down to see me at York Hall last week, which just shows that people remember you if you put on a performance.

"Boxing on Sky is just as important as fighting in front of your own fans - it's like an audition tape for me."

Groves is in the middle of the busiest period of his fledgling professional career - the Sunderland bout will come just 12 days after his victory over Martins Kukuls at York Hall.

And his next scheduled outing is only another three weeks away, on the undercard of David Haye's WBA world heavyweight title challenge to Nikolay Valuev in Nuremberg.

But Groves added: "I feel I'm in better condition now than a couple of weeks ago - it's a cumulative effect. I had one day off after my last fight, then I was straight back in the gym.

"Last weekend I went down to my old stamping ground at Dale Youth Club and it was nice to see some old friends - a lot of them came down to York Hall, but I didn't get a chance to talk to everyone then.

"I rattled out about 25 rounds, so I'm feeling good and looking forward to Friday. Sunderland's my first task and then I hope it'll be full steam ahead for Germany."

Groves' former Dale Youth amateur rival James DeGale, the Olympic gold medallist, is back in action at the end of the month when he fights in Liverpool, against an opponent yet to be announced.

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