20
Feb
2019

George Groves: Career recap as a true champion retires

Phil Jay 28/01/2019

📸 Amanda Westcott

George Groves released a heartfelt statement on Monday confirming what had already been rumored for some time.

The former super-middleweight champion has decided against a return to the ring. Groves officially announced his retirement.

Approaching his 31st birthday, Groves quoted Green Day as he addressed the media and his fans.

“It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right. I hope you had the time of your life.”

With 32 professional bouts behind him. Alongside some record-breaking feats, ‘The Saint’ walks away with the respect of world boxing.

It all began in 2008 at The O2 on the undercard of mentor David Haye’s heavyweight win over Monte Barrett.

Groves bypassed the four-round limit heading straight for six sessions. A points win over Kiril Psonko got the ball rolling.

In the Canelo mold, with pale skin and boasting striking ginger hair, Groves immediately stood out.

His flashy style was noticeable from the off, and from day one Groves began to put together a solid fanbase.

Having someone like Haye guiding his career, and with Adam Booth in his corner, Groves had all the ingredients to be a star.

Five straight knockouts followed as Groves immediately set his sights on domestic honors. Around the same time, a certain James DeGale was also making waves in the division.

As soon as it was common-knowledge that Groves held an amateur win over the Olympic gold medallist, Sky Sports had the perfect selling point for a blockbuster clash.

A sixth career knockout in January 2010 put Groves on the verge of challenging for his first title. While across London DeGale was about to move to 6-0 in just twelve months as a pro.

The first to put his step on the ladder to world honors, Groves would defeat Charles Adamu in his next fight to secure the Commonwealth super middleweight strap.

DeGale would have to wait another eight months to gain his maiden title. A win over Paul Smith Jnr in his hometown credited ‘Chunky’ with the Lonsdale Belt.

With both holding gold, it was just a matter of time before they would eventually meet in the ring. The month prior to DeGale’s victory, Groves had beaten Kenny Anderson in a hellacious tear-up in a final eliminator for the DeGale v Smith winner.

May 2011 was pencilled in by promoter Frank Warren and a tense build-up began in earnest. One of the biggest grudge matches in recent British boxing history was upon us.

Infamous appearances on Sky Sports’ Ringside, where DeGale named Groves the ‘Ugly Ginger Kid’ only stoked the fires even further.

Remaining cool under fire against a super-confident DeGale, Groves would show maturity to overcome his main rival by the closest of decisions.

Now British and Commonwealth ruler, Groves was ready to take on the world.

A win over ex-world champion and gatekeeper Glen Johnson primed Groves to take on the world’s second-best operator in Carl Froch.

Yet again, Groves found himself in the throngs of an all-UK affair as Froch lit the touch paper on another big rivalry.

Obvious dislike for what he saw as an unworthy challenger, Froch was two-belt champion at the time and many believed streets ahead of Groves.

Following another fiery run-up, Groves shocked all by dropping ‘The Cobra’ in the very first round at the Phones 4U Arena (now Manchester Arena).

If Froch was guilty of over-looking Groves beforehand, the three-time world title holder knew he now involved in a fight.

Groves held his own for the first eight rounds. But ultimately experience told and Groves seemed to dip heading into the ninth round. Froch smelt blood to force the stoppage.

The furore that followed from the timing of Howard Foster’s intervention made it impossible to avoid a return.

Taking full advantage of the situation, promoter Eddie Hearn, who was still fairly new to his role at Matchroom Boxing, saw the opportunity to book a Wembley showdown.

Another tit-for-tat contest followed. While it was Froch again who just had that something extra to get him over the line in eight as 80,000 watched on.

It was a second heartbreak for Groves but not his last. Two years later Badou Jack squeezed out a split decision win as Groves fought at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for the WBC title.

Heading back to the drawing board again. Groves then worked his way through domestic and European level to gain a fourth chance to fulfill his dream.

Against Fedor Chudinov in 2017, that dream was about to become a reality. It was as if nobody would have beaten Groves that night at Brammall Lane.

groves win westcott

Determination not to be a forgotten nearly man took Groves to the championship in six pummelling rounds.

In removing that weight off his shoulders, Groves seemed to take the little bit of desire away from his psyche.

Entering the World Boxing Super Series tournament, Groves swept away predominant middleweight Jamie Cox with ease before showing vulnerability against Chris Eubank Jr. in his semi-final.

Eeking out the victory, Grove suffered a dislocated shoulder and it was touch and go whether he’d fight again for some time.

With the clock ticking on his place in the WBS Final against Callum Smith, Groves rolled the dice and was never in any condition to compete with a fighter as classy as the Liverpool man.

That Jeddah battle in Saudi Arabia proved to be the final chapter. As a result, Groves took the opportunity to recap his amazing journey on January 28th, 2019.

To my friends, family, and all of the people who have supported me throughout my career.

After taking a little time to reflect on the recent events in my career, I have decided that it is time for me to retire as a professional fighter.

In 2017, I boxed in front of a home crowd in Sheffield and became the WBA super middleweight world champion. After four attempts I had finally fulfilled my childhood dream, and the experience was as great as I had always imagined it would be. It was, without a doubt, the best moment of my career.

Some of you might think it odd that I’m choosing this time to retire. I’m still young, still fit and healthy, and there are still some big fights out there for me. But it’s for these reasons that I am choosing to retire now. I have a young family at home; it’s time to spend some of my better days with them.

I don’t want there to be a time where I’m “too old” to box on, or where an injury retires me in or out of the ring. Over the years I have seen and sadly known the dangers of the sport. I want to respectfully bow out while I’m at the top of my game. I’ve learned that doesn’t always mean coming off the back of a win.

I’ve boxed at the highest level, all over the world, I’ve been a champion, and I’ll be leaving the sport (relatively!) intact.

Boxing has been good to me and I believe I have been good for boxing. I hope I have entertained you all. I have always strived to be the best fighter I can be.

Although we step through the ropes on our own, of course, every fighter is backed by a team, and not just the ones in the corner. There are many, many people that have helped me on my way to fulfilling my boxing dreams and I would like to take this opportunity to thank as many people as I can.

Below are the people I would like to thank most, and a bit about how each and every one of them shaped me into the champion fighter I became.

I first began my journey into combat sport at the age of 7, with Jason Stevens at the Scorpion kickboxing club in Fulham. He instilled determination into me, and a champions work-ethic that separated me from kids my age and set me on my path.

To all the coaches that I worked with at Dale Youth ABC; Mick Delaney, Peter Carson, Micky ‘Northolt’ Delaney and Ernie Harris. I joined Dale at 10 years of age and instantly fell in love with boxing, making it my life’s passion.

Under their guidance I won 4 schoolboy titles. I captained Young England and Cadet England, and went on to win 2 senior ABA titles. They instilled a winning mindset in me and everyone else who walked through the doors. They are still producing champions today even after suffering the horrors of the Grenfell Tower where the old gym was based.

Thanks also to England coach Jim Davison and his team for picking me. Giving me the chance to gain such great experiences and see the world whilst representing my country.

Next comes my professional career. Having turned professional at 20 years of age I want to thank some of the key people who I have worked with over the past 10 years. People I believe have only ever put my best interests first.

My solicitor and good friend Neil Sibley who has taken care of me my entire career. He has always gone above and beyond in securing my best interests. Neil has been an invaluable member of my team. I cannot thank him enough.

My strength and conditioning coaches – past and present – who have transformed me into an athlete. Pete Marcasino who I worked with for the James Degale fight. My good friends Dan Lawrence and Barry O’Connell who I worked with for both Froch fights and the Badou Jack fight. And Darryl Richards who I have worked with since joining the McGuigan gym.

Mick Williamson who has got me through some bloody nights. He’s never failed me and he’s always been a person of great experience to have on my side.

Kevin Lidlow who has taken care of all my medical needs since turning professional- and there has been a lot! He is one of nicest people I know and the most professional individual I’ve ever met. He was key in rehabilitating my knee before my first pro fight. Since then he has taken care of broken hands, broken ribs, a deviated septum, a dozen cuts, a broken jaw, a thousand aches and pains and a dislocated shoulder. A true genius who has extended my career time and time again.

Also, a thank you to Ben Carraway who I spent months of intense rehab with, working on bringing my shoulder back to fitness in an impossible timeframe. Without these two I wouldn’t have made the WBSS final.

My media and business agents Duncan Ross, Dean Baker and everyone at Wasserman who have helped me build my public profile, managed my public appearances and negotiated my entry into the World Boxing Super Series. They have generated money for me without having to get punched in the face and helped take care of the minute details on fight weeks that can be the difference between winning and losing.

To everyone at McGuigan’s gym who were the difference between success and failure. In particular my coach Shane McGuigan who reinstalled my belief and guided me to my greatest night. Barry, Jake and Blain McGuigan who have helped in camp and on fight night, Josh Pritchard who works my corner on fight night and is Shane’s right-hand man. Also to Jimmy Tibbs who Shane has brought into my corner the last couple of years- it’s been great to have his experience on hand too.

Meeting Shane was the turning point in my career. He was the missing piece I needed to fulfill my full potential. Without him, I don’t know if I would have ever got there. As a trainer, Shane gave me the spark back, got me in the best shape of my life, and with his unwavering dedication helped me become the number one recognised fighter in the division. For this, I am eternally grateful. I will leave my fighting days with a friend for life in Shane.

I want to thank some good friends who have played a part too. Philip Sharkey, a boxing photographer I met at his Oxford Street studio 10 years ago. Tomasz Szewczyk and Davide Nicolosi, my security team who have been looking after me since before the Degale fight. My long time sponsors Graham Granville and Adam Garland of Zircom. And Darren Golden of Exigo. My friend David Simpson who has managed my website and press at the start of my career. Natalie and Will at Noyo Food for taking care of my nutritional needs for the past few years.

My fellow fighters who have become friends through regular sparring. Sergej Rozvadovskij, Miles Shinkwin and Chris Billam-Smith.

I want to thank everyone in the sport. The TV companies and their staff who have shown my fights. The promoters I’ve worked with, the journalists who have covered me and travelled the world to do so.

Of course I need to thank the fans who have supported me, and ultimately paid my wages! To all of you who have bought tickets to my fights, bought the PPV’s, bought the T-shirts, stopped me in the street to show support, or sent me kind emails and messages after both good and difficult times. Thank you.

The support I have received over my career from people has always been amazing.

The biggest thanks have to go to my family. My wife Sophie who is my childhood sweetheart. She has been through every high and every low with me. Her support and love has kept me going through the darkest of times.

My Mum and Dad, Yvonne and Donnie. Those who have always given me fantastic support from the very beginning and pushed me in everything I have ever done. They’re my biggest fans & I’ve always known how proud they are of me.

Lastly a prayer for Eduard Gutknecht who suffered a brain aneurysm after our fight in November 2016. He was put into an induced coma for 3 weeks and bravely fought his way back to consciousness. He lives in Germany with his wife, 3 children and a full-time carer. This fight brought home the realization that boxing can have brutal consequences.

After this, I truly felt like my fighting days were numbered. Winning the WBA world title I decided to only continue fighting while it felt necessary.

After the birth of my second son last year and losing in the final of WBSS, I knew the desire to fight had left me. Retiring at 30 was a suggestion I first heard 10 years ago. I thought it was a good idea then and I still do now.


FUTURE

However, boxing has been my life and I would love to remain in the sport to some degree. I have my manager’s licence that has enabled me to be self-managed for the past 5 years. I’m delighted to be able to take this opportunity to announce I will be joining Wasserman as an adviser in their boxing division.

They currently manage a host of fighters both here in the U.K and in the U.S. Although predominately known for football, being one of the largest agencies in the world, they’re starting to make waves in the boxing world too.

I hope that by joining them, and with some hard work, we will become a prominent figure in the sport of boxing. I’ll be delivering first-rate services for fighters.

I believe I’ve got a lot of knowledge and experience in boxing. For situations both in and out of the ring, that could be invaluable to future champions of this sport.

I’ve had lots of incredible opportunities to work with almost everyone in the sport. From a range of promoters and TV networks whilst being self-managed. Something which I believe has left me with a unique set of skills that could set me apart from other managers/advisors. I’m really looking forward to this challenge.

TV

Working as a TV/Radio pundit is something I have enjoyed over the years. It is also something I would love to pursue wherever possible.

I will be involved in ITV’s PBC show next month staging Eubank v Degale as a pundit. I’m sure it will be fun.

I am also planning to follow my new interest in motivational speaking. I’m hoping that my story of never giving up may be able to inspire the odd person here and there.

So once again I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has shown me love and support over the years.

In my darkest and hardest times, it has been other people’s energy and enthusiasm that has kept me focused and determined to achieve my dreams. – George Groves

All at WBN would like to wish George Groves the best for the future.

Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay

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