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DeGale keen on Groves clash

PUBLISHED: 16:47 10 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:53 24 August 2010

By Ben Kosky JAMES DeGale is eager to accept the challenge from old rival George Groves – once he has dispatched Matthew Barr at Wembley Arena this weekend. Groves trainer Adam Booth has called for DeGale to face his former Dale Youth ABC colleague on th

By Ben Kosky

JAMES DeGale is eager to accept the challenge from old rival George Groves - once he has dispatched Matthew Barr at Wembley Arena this weekend.

Groves' trainer Adam Booth has called for DeGale to face his former Dale Youth ABC colleague on the undercard of David Haye's world title defence in April.

It would be the first clash between the super-middleweight pair since they both turned professional - and DeGale says he will urge promoter Frank Warren to make it happen.

But the Olympic champion from Harlesden has more immediate concerns as he prepares to appear in front of his home crowd for the first time on Saturday's 'Night of the Champions' bill.

"Let me get this fight out of the way, then I'll speak to Frank and hopefully we'll get it on with George Groves as soon as possible," DeGale told the Times.

"In the end it's up to my promoter and whoever Frank puts in my way, I'll fight him. But I'm keen, I'm willing - I want to shut Groves up and I'll knock him out sooner rather than later.

"It's all very well being brave, but I don't know why a manager would want me to destroy his fighter. I'm on my path to being a world champion and people are trying to live off my name."

There has been no love lost between the two boxers ever since Groves won a controversial contest against DeGale en route to succeeding him as ABA middleweight champion four years ago.

That rivalry intensified when 'Chunky' was chosen ahead of Groves as Great Britain's middleweight representative for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where he won the gold medal.

Both are unbeaten in the paid ranks, with DeGale chasing his sixth success against Surrey fighter Matthew Barr, who has 14 wins and five losses on his record.

"Barr has only lost one of his last eight fights and he's going to be a tough opponent, but he'll need more than that to beat me," DeGale declared.

"I've had some fantastic sparring with two good heavyweights, Danny Williams and John McDermott, so I'm looking to put on a show of speed and power and let everyone know I'm not messing about."

DeGale was subjected to jeers from an element in the crowd during his professional debut in Birmingham a year ago, but can certainly expect to command enormous support on home turf.

"It's nice that there are so many other Londoners on the show as well," the 23-year-old added. "I've personally told 400 tickets and there should be a great atmosphere.

"Loads of my friends and people from my area who haven't been able to travel around the country are going to be there. My Nanny Grace hasn't been able to see me yet, but she'll be in the front row cheering me on."

The show also features WBO intercontinental lightweight champion Kevin Mitchell, British welterweight title holder Kell Brook and Welsh star Nathan Cleverly.

Heavyweight Derek Chisora is also on the bill, along with DeGale's fellow Olympians Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders.

Call 0871 220 0260 for ticket details.


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