Although this appears to be one of the best weekends in boxing in quite a while, numerous world title fights and eliminators around the globe with possibly the most stacked card in quite some time it’s also the first week after Sky’s “Friday Night Fights”. British talent will miss it until Sky starts again with a Saturday night show, hopefully bringing big time boxing back to Sky Sports on a regular basis. Though it needs to be said that John Lewis Dickinson was upset last week due to a nasty swelling below his left eye which saw the former Prizefighter winner pulled out. Whilst Craig McEwan’s trainer Freddie Roach said he thought “We had lost” whilst most thought Tony Jeffries should have lost to Michael Banbula.
So moving on to this week and the excellent Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino card headlined by the rematch between Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz it seems only fitting that the prospect of the week is fighting on that very undercard. With many of the fighters on the card being too advanced to really be considered prospects, such as Dmitry Pirog and Daniel Jacobs (who meet in a battle for the WBO Middleweight crown) and Jorge Linares (who whilst aged 24 has been a 2-weight champion already) it seems only fair to talk about the young fighter making his US debut. George “The Saint” Groves is arguably the hottest young fighter in Britain and looks to try and his name to the long and illustrious list of great Super Middleweights from the UK.
Although Groves, 22 year old from Hammersmith may not have got the Olympic success of fierce rival and former gym buddy James “Chunky” DeGale many are picking the Hayemaker managed Frank Maloney promoted fighter as the better fighter, and with good reason. A two time British ABA Middleweight champion, who as a kid held the more experienced DeGale to 50-50 sparring sessions and actually beat him in ’06 as he piled up a 66-10 (40) amateur record.
Groves would sign a professional deal with the fledgling Hayemaker Promotions in 2008 and as DeGale was in China winning Olympic gold Groves was preparing for his professional debut which came only months later on the under card of David Hayes contest with Monte Barrett. It was a relatively low key debut for Groves who was comfortably down the card scoring a point victory over Kirilas Psonko unlike DeGales’s debut 3 months later which was a hugely hyped event that saw DeGale booed due to running his mouth. Over the following 12 months Groves would be kept busy fighting regularly in contests against more experienced fighters. He would string together 5 straight stoppages, beating the likes of solid British fighter Paul Samuels, an the usually durable Romaric Hignard from France.
Groves’ first high profile bout came on the undercard of David Haye’s contest with Nikolay Valuev for the WBA Heavyweight title. In Germany (his first fight outside of the UK) Groves would clearly out point the very durable Belarussian Kanstantsin Makhankau (who despite taking a record of 15-18 into the bout had only been stopped once) over 8 rounds. Though it was his most recent fight that really showed how good Goves is, stopping the well regarded George Adamu in the 6th round of an utterly one sided battle which had seen the tough Ghana born fighter down 3 times. The win saw Groves winning the Commonwealth Super Middleweight title in just his 9th fight as a professional.
In his upcoming fight “The Saint” meets Alfredo Contreras from the boxing hotbed of Los Mochis, Mexico who is as good a yard stick as you can get. Contreras has been in with Craig McEwan, David Lemieux, Anthony Dirrell and Sebastien Demers. Although Groves is expected to win comfortably, a stoppage will have him further proving his credentials and putting him further ahead of DeGale in the race to a world title.
On the card we also get one of the hottest young Americans in Frankie Gomez an 18 year old star in the making who is worth keeping an eye on if you get a chance.