Groves won’t wait forever
PUBLISHED: 17:14 27 October 2010
2010 Getty Images
GEORGE Groves admits he may have to ditch his British title ambitions as he prepares for his first defence of the Commonwealth super-middleweight crown.
The Hammersmith fighter had hoped for a chance to add the national championship to the Commonwealth belt he seized from Charles Adamu earlier this year, but now accepts that is unlikely to happen.
Current British champion Paul Smith defends against Groves’ former amateur rival James DeGale in December – and the prospect of a showdown between the ex-Dale Youth ABC pair is still very much on hold.
“I always wanted to become British champion but, if no-one’s giving me a chance, I can’t do much about it,” said Groves, who faces Ghanaian James Obede Toney on Saturday night at York Hall.
“When I first became Commonwealth champion I said to Paul Smith ‘let’s get it on’ and didn’t hear anything back. Maybe people above him were the reason for that, I don’t know.
“It was frustrating at first because I was trying to force my way into the British title scene and I felt phased out of it while we had the champion fighting unknown, unranked boxers.
“But I don’t have to waste my time. I’m not going to hang around for 18 months or two years to try and get a shot at the British title and maybe I’ll have to end up bypassing that altogether.
“Amir Khan and David Haye are the two best British fighters around at the moment and neither of them ever won a British title because of the politics. But if you’ve got that mindset to get to the top, you’ll do it.
“There’s plenty out there for me – I’ve got the Commonwealth title to defend, the European title isn’t that far out of reach and if we keep doing what we’re doing, I’m confident of getting to where I want to be.”
Groves’ last outing was a sixth-round stoppage of Alfredo Contreras in Las Vegas, but this is the first time the Commonwealth title will be up for grabs since the 22-year-old won it in Manchester six months ago.
Toney, 30, has lost just three times in 28 professional bouts – one of them to current IBF world champion Lucien Bute – but has never previously fought in the UK.
By contrast, Groves has enjoyed his previous appearances at York Hall – he won two ABA middleweight titles at the famous east London venue and has beaten both Romaric Hignard and Martins Kukuls there since he turned pro.
“The fight’s sold out and I’ve sold 600 tickets on my own, which shows things are going in the right direction,” added Groves, who has won all 10 of his paid contests.
“For the ABA finals I sold 200 and when I fought at York Hall a year ago it was 350. I got a massive reception at the MEN Arena but hopefully this time the roof’s going to come off.
“I’ve got to stay switched on – it’d be easy to get carried away but that’s the last thing I want to do now I’m Commonwealth champion and getting my own TV dates.
“It’s quite clear that Toney’s going to be a step up from Adamu. He’s been in with some world-class opposition and they’re the only ones who have been able to beat him.
“So he certainly knows his way around a boxing ring and I’ll have to be on top form to prove beating Adamu was no fluke. I think the fight’s going to bring the best out of me and I’m really looking forward to it.”
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