GUEST COL­UMN

The best two ghters are in the nal, but Ge­orge might just have the edge

Boxing News - - Contents - James De­gale

James De­gale on Groves vs Smith

I’M ex­cited for this fight and, be­ing hon­est, it’s the fi­nal I ex­pected from the very start of the World Box­ing Su­per Se­ries. When the full line-up was an­nounced for the tour­na­ment I had peo­ple com­ing up to me and men­tion­ing Chris Eubank Jnr and Jamie Cox as po­ten­tial win­ners, but I al­ways knew that the win­ner was go­ing to come from Ge­orge Groves or Cal­lum Smith. Not a sin­gle doubt en­tered my mind re­gard­ing the even­tual win­ner be­cause Groves and Smith were the best two fight­ers in it by a mile.

Pick­ing the win­ner be­tween the two of them is hard. It’s the fi­nal that the whole world wanted be­tween two qual­ity guys, but I just can’t make a pre­dic­tion and be 100 per cent con­fi­dent about it. If I was hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion a year ago then I say Smith in a heart­beat, but the last cou­ple of fights have asked a few ques­tions of him and I don’t think he’s given the best ac­count of him­self in ei­ther fight. He’s had a very easy draw in this com­pe­ti­tion and he’s done enough to get the fi­nal, but now he has to go up a few lev­els against Groves and it’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see how he finds things against a top guy like Ge­orge.

With Groves, you kind of know what you’re go­ing to get. His jab is sharp and he can stick to a game plan and you can prob­a­bly ar­gue that he’s in the form of his ca­reer go­ing into this fight. A lot of peo­ple have called time on Groves’ ca­reer in the past when he lost to Carl Froch and Badou Jack, but he’s sorted him­self in a big way and he looks a dif­fer­ent fighter these days. There al­ways used to be things said about Ge­orge’s stamina, but he’s very much a 12-round fighter now and that’s be­cause he fights a lot smarter and doesn’t waste en­ergy the way that he used to. Cal­lum is a fighter I rate, but there’s some­thing about him in his last few fights that I’m just not sure of. There was talk of me fight­ing him last year af­ter I fought Jack in New York so he was some­one I had a closer look at, but what I was watch­ing then looks a much bet­ter ver­sion then what I’ve seen in his last two. There’s a big pos­si­bil­ity that he’s fought within him­self, think­ing about the fi­nal with Ge­orge, but if that’s not the case then he’s go­ing to find out quickly what it’s like to be at the high­est level be­cause Groves will not waste his time.

If I’m forced to pick a win­ner then I’m go­ing with Ge­orge sim­ply be­cause he’s tried and tested. If Cal­lum is the fighter many say he is then he’ll give a great ac­count of him­self, but Ge­orge is the one who’s been there time and time again and showed ev­ery­one just what he’s ca­pa­ble of. He’s got a load of ex­pe­ri­ence fight­ing on the big stage against the best guys. That puts him in a good po­si­tion go­ing into this one. It’s not a con­fi­dent pick be­cause I do rate the two fight­ers highly, but it’s com­ing down to the lit­tle things and Ge­orge just ticks more boxes for me. It’ll be a good fight and Ge­orge will get the win af­ter 12 hard rounds.

‘IF I WAS ASKED WHO WAS GO­ING TO WIN A YEAR AGO I WOULD SAY SMITH IN A HEART­BEAT’

Pho­tos: AC­TION IM­AGES/AN­DREW COULDRIDGE

THE CHAM­PION: Groves comes into this bout on the back of very im­pres­sive form

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