George Groves believes winning the World Super Boxing Series will elevate him into boxing’s pound-for-pound top five list.
In order to achieve that, the London-based boxer needs to win the first of three fights in the inaugural, eight-man super-middleweight tournament on Saturday.
Groves (26-3, 19 KOs) faces fellow Englishman Jamie Cox (24-0, 13 KOs) at the SSE Arena in Wembley, with the winner due to face Chris Eubank Jr in the semifinals, expected to be held late January 2018. Eubank (26-1, 20 KOs), also from England, knocked out Turkey’s Avni Yildirim in the third round in Stuttgart, Germany, on Oct. 7.
As the super-middleweight tournament’s No. 1 seed and only reigning world titleholder, Groves feels he has the opportunity to establish himself as the division’s No 1.
“I was running round a few years ago telling everyone that everything happens for a reason but this tournament has come round for me at the right time,” said Groves.
“Andre Ward retired the other week and I thought, ‘Good on him’. He’s obviously thought, ‘This is enough now’, and he has made that decision.
“I’m not ready to do that but I hope when I am I will be able to do the same thing.
“Once Ward moved up out of the super-middleweight division there’s no real superstar in it, including myself, and at the end of this tournament I will be able to say I’m one of the pound-for-pound best out there.
“If I need a couple more fights to get into that pound-for-pound list I’m capable of it and that will be the final goal, to get pound-for-pound top five, top ten.
“A tournament will help me on the way. That’s what happened to Andre Ward, he went for it as a contender who turned pro, an Olympic champion, won the Super Six tournament in 2011 and came out of it a top pound-for-pound fighter.
“There are three fights and I have to win it. I’m all geared up for the end of May. I will beat everyone in the tournament so it’s about staying focused, motivated, healthy and going out and getting the job done.”
Groves is the tournament favourite after winning his first world title at the fourth attempt in May, when he stopped Russia’s Fedor Chudinov in the sixth round for the WBA belt at Brammall Lane, Sheffield.
That triumph followed stoppage losses to fellow Briton Carl Froch in 2013 and 2014 before a split points decision defeat to Sweden’s U.S.-based Badou Jack two years ago.
A dominant points win over Kazakhstan’s Germany-based Eduard Gutknecht helped put Groves back in title contention, but it had devastating, life-changing effects for the loser.
Gutknecht, 35, suffered head injuries from the fight that have left him in a wheelchair and unable to talk.
Groves admits he frequently thinks about Gutknecht’s condition but says it has not dissuaded him from chasing his boxing ambitions.
“I can’t do anything about my situation yet, I need to carry on boxing, so that’s what I’ve been doing. I just have to put it to the back of my mind,” said Groves.
“It does make me reassess things. Not just me but my mum and dad, wife, close friends and family. They will be happy when I say I’ve had enough and call it a day because of the risks that come with boxing.
“But it is what it is. I still need to box, I still want to box and until that changes, that’s what I’m going to be doing.”