Boxing: War of words breaks out between Hammersmith natives and world champions James DeGale and George Groves

PUBLISHED: 09:07 08 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:08 08 June 2017

George Groves (right) on his way to defeating James DeGale on points to win the British and Commonwealth super-middleweight title in 2011 (pic Nick Potts/PA)

George Groves (right) on his way to defeating James DeGale on points to win the British and Commonwealth super-middleweight title in 2011 (pic Nick Potts/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Both men are now world champions and look set for a rematch in the near future

It was only ever likely to be a matter of time before a war of words broke out between new WBA super-middleweight champion George Groves and IBF title holder James DeGale.

Both men hail from Hammersmith and both are world champions in the same weight division.

DeGale, though, insists that should the duo meet in a unification bout, Groves, who won his title last month, is unworthy of an equal share of the purse.

“Groves has gone backwards. I’m not being disrespectful, but he’s not got the same sharpness,” the 31-year-old told The Mirror.

“He has, however, fulfilled his dream of becoming world champion and it makes our potential rematch even bigger.

“Negotiations will be difficult and the terms will have to be right for the fight to be made.”

Groves inflicted DeGale’s solitary defeat as a pro in 2011 and also beat the 2008 Olympic gold medallist in the amateur game.

With those victories in mind, it is unsurprising that Groves hit back against DeGale’s claims that would not be worthy of an equal purse should the pair meet.

“I deserve more – he’s right!” Groves joked in an interview with Sky Sports News HQ.

It could be a while, though, before the two west Londoners meet again in the ring after both undergoing surgery.

Groves is hopeful of returning to the ring in September or October after breaking his jaw in beating Russian Fedor Chudinov to claim his world title.

DeGale, meanwhile, had an operation to correct a long-standing shoulder injury and is also hopeful of a return before the year is out.

But Groves believes DeGale’s surgery on a shoulder injury was tactical, adding: “His surgery is more strategic.

“He was hoping for a big date this month and he probably thought he’d get a fight against me or Callum Smith.

“He will get neither. He probably thinks it’s the right time to take some time out.

“It makes sense if he’s not 100 per cent and if I do fight him I want him to be 100 per cent and not making any excuses.”

It already looks like a fierce war of words between the pair, and that’s even before negotiations have begun about a potential unification bout between the west Londoners.

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