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Challenger Smith will test George Groves

PUBLISHED: 14:07 02 November 2011

Paul Smith and George Groves (right).

Paul Smith and George Groves (right).

PA Wire/Press Association Images

George Groves’ trainer believes Paul Smith can pose the greatest threat of the British and Commonwealth super-middleweight champion’s career when the pair clash at Wembley Arena.

Groves is making his first defence of the British title he captured in May from old rival James DeGale, who had in turn taken it from Liverpool’s Smith only five months earlier.

Despite that, Adam Booth feels Smith – who has recorded two first round stoppages since he surrendered the title – is quite capable of causing the unbeaten champion more problems than DeGale did.

“I firmly believe Paul Smith is the right fight for George at this time,” Booth told the Times. “Fighters improve by being around other good fighters and being challenged by them.

“Paul is someone who’s had ups and downs, which has made him a resilient character, and he has a style of fighting that’s going to test George a little bit more, physically and mentally.

“Not taking risks in boxing is shameful, I think, because by definition it’s a sport of risks. Paul knows this is his opportunity to get back where he wants to be and that type of man is going to bring out the best in George.

“Paul’s a pressure fighter, so that’s where we’ve put George. He dealt with a fiddly, awkward style in his last fight, now he’s got to deal with someone fighting on the inside.”

Although Groves comes from nearby Hammersmith, Saturday’s fight will be the first time he has boxed at Wembley Arena during his three-year career as a professional.

And, with only 13 paid contests to his name, Booth acknowledges that it may be a while yet before the 23-year-old can be considered for membership of the ‘world-class’ bracket.

“Our ambition is for George to develop into a world-class fighter, but he knows where he’s at realistically. He’s not a top 10 fighter in the world at the moment,” Booth added.

“He’s British champion before his time. We have five guys in the super-middleweight division who are championship quality and below them guys who are six-round fighters, with nothing in between.

“So George is doing his learning at championship level and it’s not the first time I’ve seen that. All you can do is take one fight at a time and see where it takes you.

“That may be a cliché, but anyone that doesn’t do that is a fool who is going to come up short. The first error of boxing is to ignore or underestimate your opponent.”

With David Haye recently confirming his retirement from the ring, Booth is able to fully concentrate on training Groves – and has also handed over his promotional duties to Frank Warren.

The fight is being screened live on Warren’s new BoxNation channel as chief support to the WBO interim lightweight championship bout between former champions Ricky Burns and Michael Katsidis.

Groves said: “I’m excited and thrilled to be boxing in London again – a lot of my friends and family are coming and I want to put on a show for them. I think my fans will go home happy when I win the fight.”


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