George Groves will donate his gloves from Saturday’s world title defence against Jamie Cox to raise funds for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.
The blaze at the block of flats in west London on June 14 killed at least 80 people and more than 150 families are reportedly still in hotels after their homes were destroyed.
Dale Youth Amateur Boxing Club, where Groves and world super-middleweight titlehodler James DeGale began their careers, was based on the bottom floor and was destroyed. Run by coach Mick Delaney, the club has recently relocated to new premises in west London after securing £50,000 in funding.
“It was a very difficult one because I thought the disaster was way above me,” Groves told ESPN. “I’ve got many, many friends who are from the area who have put on events to raise money.
“I’ve put tickets aside for a raffle and I’m giving away my fight gloves from the night as well. I was down there recently at Dale Youth ABC, which is now in Ladbroke Grove, to take some kit down for their relaunch. The coaches have done great things for the community and it will always survive.
“It was never about the club, but about the residents and I’ve felt for Mick Delaney. He has had to keep talking about it. It’s hard to keep bringing it up. We lost a member of the club Tony Disson, (65) in the fire. He was trapped on one of the upper floors. We want to help but don’t know where to focus our efforts.”
Groves (26-3, 19 KOs) makes a first defence of his WBA belt against English rival Jamie Cox (24-0, 13 KOs) at the SSE Arena in Wembley on Saturday. Victory will set up a fight with another Englishman Chris Eubank Jr — possibly in London on Jan. 28 — in a semifinal of the World Boxing Super Series eight-man elimination tournament.
Eubank (26-1, 20 KOs), from Brighton, impressively knocked out Turkey’s Avni Yildirim in the third round in Germany last weekend and Liverpool’s Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs) is also through to the semifinals.
Groves, 29, is No. 1 seed in the tournament and its only recognised world titleholder after he captured the WBA belt with a sixth-round stoppage of Russia’s Fedor Chudinov at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, in May. It was the west Londoner’s fourth world title attempt after being stopped twice by English rival Carl Froch in 2013 and 2014, before a split points loss to Sweden’s U.S.-based Badou Jack in September 2015.
“I believe it will move my career on to the next level,” Groves said. “I could be involved in three domestic clashes all on the big stage, against Chris Eubank Jr next and Callum Smith if he wins his semi-final.
“Whoever comes out on top, their stock will have risen and their name will be bigger.
“Being champion, there’s a different mindset. There’s a weight off my shoulders now whereas before I was thinking, ‘will it ever happen?’ It’s not always down to how much you want it. It can be just one shot and it’s over. You have to ride your luck a bit, you have to take opportunities when they come.”