British boxer George Groves pulls no punches ahead of his upcoming rematch with Carl Froch....
First things first: how are you feeling about your fight with Carl Froch at Wembley on 31 May?
I’m very confident about this fight. I know I can hurt him. I know I’m faster than him, I’ve got better footwork than him and I know I can beat him on every attribute when it comes to boxing. That gives me great confidence.
With the fight being at Wembley, it seems like a welcome return to the classic all-British bout. Is there another big Brit fight you’d like to see?
Well, [Tyson] Fury vs [Dereck] Chisora is happening, so I’m looking forward to that. When those two guys are in shape it’s a fascinating fight. Fury loves to fight and Chisora the same. They’re heavyweights, so at times they can be lazy and get away with it, but when they’re both in shape it will be a great fight.
Trash talk is a big thing in boxing. What’s the worst you’ve been subjected to?
You’re subjected to many things in sport, but most of the time people just make fun of my hair colour. When it comes to trash talk from an actual opponent and you can actually see them say it, it’s never really that bad. It’s usually, “Your breath smells” or “I don’t like your trousers”. That stuff, unfortunately for them, doesn’t keep me up at night.
Despite all the pre-match posturing, it’s often all smiles and handshakes between fighters after a bout. Can you see a future bromance for you and Carl Froch?
I’m honestly not fussed. I don’t think we’ll ever be friends, he’s not really my cup of tea. But I don’t dislike him. In the build-up to this fight he’s an opponent. I’ll beat him, then if I see him after, I’ll wave and shake his hand, I have no qualms about that. But while you’re a fighter, you have that alpha maleness in you, you want to be top dog and take no prisoners – so you have to find that balance.
You’re a big Call Of Duty fan. How do you rate yourself on the virtual battlefield?
On a scale of one to 10, I’d say I’m about a nine. But I’m not going to say if one or 10 would be the highest…
Are you as aggressive when it comes to gaming as you are in the boxing ring?
I think I’m more aggressive and also much more erratic. I see a target and just chase after it. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t, but for me it’s more fun. You won’t find me creeping round corners – I’ll be running out, arms flailing and guns firing.
Mixed martial arts, in particular UFC, is being touted as the latest sport to rival boxing. What do you think of it?
It can be brutal. I’m more a fan of the technique than the brutality of UFC, but it’s a great sport. I don’t think it’ll ever rival boxing, though. Boxing will always have that status as the fighting art, but UFC is certainly a very exciting sport.
How would you fancy your chances in the Octagon against an experienced UFC fighter?
If it was UFC rules, a UFC fighter would always win – a lot of boxers would come unstuck with that. I do a lot of wrestling with MMA guys for strength, and those guys are freakishly strong. They could snap you in half.
Would you be looking for a speedy KO?
Yeah, if they dived at me. It would have to be a standing game, there’s no point letting them get close to you. So if you’re a one-punch knockout artist, then you’re in with a chance. But if you’re a pepper-jabber and a combination puncher, a UFC fighter is going to sweep you out and ground and pound you. Anyone can throw their hands, but if a guy can pin you down and wrestle, then you’re in trouble.
What do you think of the current state of boxing’s heavyweight division?
It certainly needs to be stronger. It’s the US’s fault, as their big athletes are now being paid far more money to go into American football or basketball. If even a fraction of those athletes decided to go towards boxing instead, we could have 20 legitimate heavyweight contenders right now in the United States. The European guys are big lumps and are doing well, but the Klitschkos [Vitali and Wladimir] have been too good and killed off everyone else for so long now. But heavyweight boxing will always be there; that’s why David Haye can still talk about a comeback, years after challenging for a title.
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