It was just days before George Groves took on Carl Froch at Wembley in May when he announced he would be signing with German based promoters Sauerland – a strange move by both camps so close to fight night, especially considering what was at stake in the huge IBF/WBA super middleweight shoot-out.
Kalle Sauerland took the time at Thursday’s press conference to talk over his outfit’s reasons for getting Groves on board, and how his new charge has coped since the loss;
”We started looking at George before the first Froch fight. We’ve followed him throughout his career – we’ve always had a good relationship with his previous trainer, Adam Booth. It was not about signing him to get in on the action on the Froch fight, we don’t gamble on one fight. So, win or lose we had our plans.
”After the Froch defeat, George wasn’t down, I think he was frustrated. Over the two fights, you couldn’t pick them. They were split by a punch from the boxing gods, a brilliant punch. He found the right punch at the right time – it could have been exactly the other way around. In the first round of the first fight we saw it could’ve been the other way around.
”I’ve promoted fights many times. Kessler, Abraham, Kessler again (vs Froch) – Carl is a very hard puncher. He’s a constant puncher. He doesn’t throw those concussive punches like he did that night. He caught him (Groves), no doubt about it – that’s the exciting thing about boxing, that’s how we sell boxing. But at the same time, George is also an exceedingly sharp fighter outside the ring that he gets it. He gets that he wasn’t terrible that night – one judge had him ahead, one judge had him behind and the other judge had it very close.
He’s taken it for what it is; it’s a moment. It’s a moment that everybody’s going to talk about for a long time. We’re there to move forward now and George gets that.”
George takes on the less than talkative Christopher Rebrasse and Kalle gave his view on the man of few words.
”He’s a man of very few words!” Agreed Sauerland.
”I don’t know if he’s cagey because George has got a real tag on him…I think he’s a cool customer – he seems like a very composed guy. If you look at the way he boxes, he boxes in a similar fashion to how he behaves.
”He’s long, tactical and boxes at length. He’ll box tactically but George has his tactics as well and George is looking to shine.”
A win for Groves tomorrow and Kalle expects the WBC title showdown with Dirrell to happen sooner rather than later. Although the American has publicly stated he has no interest in fighting a man he feels ”undesserving”.
The WBC have sent the official letter outlining Groves as mandatory challenger, although a minor delay in the unlikely event of Dirrell taking a voluntary so soon within the WBC’s time frame of when he must face is mandatory, is the only concern for fans of ‘The Saint’, who’s popularity would pehaps appeal more lucrative to the current holder.
”I think it’s a question of when.” Kalle said.
”If he is allowed this voluntary, will they try and drag that voluntary out? I’ve got another couple of guys in the super middleweight division – Arthur Abraham, ofcourse the champion in the WBO division and Mikkel Kessler, and I can tell you that Kessler (who is set to make a return to the ring shortly) is a far more interesting fight in the super middleweight division than Anthony Dirrell is because he brings money to the table.
”Ok, Dirrell now brings a belt but, I’ve been looking for three months now for a fight for Kessler. We were close before now in finding a fight, but it’s taken me that long to find a credible opponent, which is what he wants. We are hopefully announcing something in the next ten days – we’re that close. I can’t talk about it but it’s in the next ten days.”
Meanwhile, David Price is nearing the end of his rehabilitation after picking up an injury. The popular Liverpudlian is nearing a return to the ring, whereas fellow scouser Paul Smith Jr. attempts to prize away the WBO strap from Sauerland’s Arthur Abraham next weekend in what is a big fortnight for British super middleweights, and Kalle is expecting a decent contest for his fighter;
”I meet with Pricey tomorrow and we’ll see how the rehab’s going. I want to see if he’s kept himself fit because the danger with a heavyweight is that they go off, get injured and end up looking like real heavyweights! David is so fucussed, he’s a great guy to work with so, I’m hoping he’s back by the end of the year.
”I think Paul will make a good challenge. I think it’s a question of whether he can cope with Abraham’s power, but Paul’s up for this.”
Lee Elford is covering Christopher Rebrasse v George Groves fight week for WBN. Follow Lee on Twitter @Tempas_Flair