George Groves is hoping that Saturday is finally his time to shine as he challenges Fedor Chudinov (14-1) for the vacant WBA Super World super-middleweight title as the co-headliner at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, alongside Kell Brook v Errol Spence Jr.
The 29-year-old from Hammersmith, feels well prepared for his fourth attempt at a title, and comes fresh off the back of four successive victories which include a unanimous decision win against Martin Murray and most recently Eduard Gutknecht. These come after a switch in trainer to Shane McGuigan, who took over after his two blockbuster clashes with Carl Froch and a split decision points loss to Badou Jack.
“It’s up to me to deliver. I want to be World Champion and I want to be involved in some huge fights. I know I’m good enough, and with Shane in my corner, I’m back to my best, and ready to make to make it happen,” Groves told World Boxing News.
He continued: “Everything that’s happened in the past has just made me more determined. I know the pressure is on, and I can’t afford to make any more mistakes. This might be my best chance to win a World title, but it could also be my last.I believe this is the best opportunity for me to achieve my dream and become World Champion. Time is on my side. I had a good year last year, and I’m in a good place. I’ve put in the work, and now, I need to make this count.”
His trainer, Shane McGuigan is also confident that this is Groves chance, telling Sky Sports that he believes that Groves is the best super middleweight there is right now.
“It may seem brash or bold for me to say this about someone who’s had three failed attempts, but I honestly believe I’m working with the best super middleweight in the world, and now, we’ve just got to go out there and prove it,” said McGuigan.
“I think within the next one or two fights, George will be recognised as the best super middleweight out there. He is going to be the guy to beat!”
The Londoner is strong favourite to defeat the Russian and has demonstrated many skills in his past fights which could help him in his aim for the top. He has a lot faster hand speed than Chudinov and after the saga of the Froch fights, no one can doubt the man’s heart or how much he wants to succeed. He is also the taller man by around two inches at 5ft11.5”.
However, the Orthodox fighter from Serpukhov , Russia is out to get back the title which he previously held, but lost in a highly controversial majority points decision to Sturm last year in a rematch, which is the only loss on his professional record thus far. Many thought Chudinov controlled the entire fight, as he had done in the first. Sturm also then tested positive for a banned substance after the fight to add to the controversy. He also held the regular super-middleweight title from 2015-2016
There is the risk, which Groves has indicated himself, that the 29-year old may not have had a chance to show his full potential yet. Groves comes into the fight with much more experience, but with far less fights, especially of note, it means that we are unsure exactly of what Chudinov could have up his sleeve.
“We might not know the best Chudinov yet, so I’m not taking him lightly,” Groves told Sky Sports News HQ at Wednesday’s public workout. “I’m not taking my eye off the ball.”
Groves is also notorious for a slight lack of stamina, as seen in his Froch rematch and it could be said that perhaps he doesn’t have the strongest chin in the game. He also finds it difficult to come under pressure from hard hitting fighters. Chudinov therefore makes himself a threat to Grove’s future plans, with his heavy hands, a strong chin and the way he puts pressure on his opponents – as seen back in 2015 in his win against Frank Buglioni.
Buglioni, who has recently done some sparring with Groves, told Sky Sports that he is unsure of the fight’s outcome.
It is a real 50-50 fight,” Buglioni said.
“If Groves is going to do it, he will probably need a stoppage because Chudinov is going to be there every round and throwing a lot of shots. If it goes to points, it could well be Chudinov, but it is certainly Groves’s opportunity to go and take.”
Chudinov’s pure punch power was demonstrated well in 2014 in his fight against Ben Mccullough, who he knocked out cold in just round two. And he is nearly as confident as his opponent of a win.
“I feel good. Better than my last fight. George is a good boxer but I have a good chance to win,” he said today at the press conference.
The ‘Saint’ is already looking ahead of the fight however, even though he says it cannot be underestimated, telling Sky Sports he would want a rematch with James DeGale next and it appears that even his old rival, Carl Froch MBE is on his side for this fight. He told The Sun Sports: “There is an argument to say he is not over that KO loss against me. It was a bitter pill to swallow after I knocked him out in such conclusive fashion and everyone has been talking about it for so long.”
“If Groves can beat Chudinov then I believe he will prove that he is totally over his two losses against me by becoming world champion.”
“Groves would have a nice foundation to build on as a world champion. Then he can restart his career and really go for it. He seems like an old fighter that has been around for years. He is young enough to keep going though.”
As well as Kell Brook v Errol Spence Jr, the undercard sees three Team GB Rio Olympians on the line-up in the shape of Joe Cordina, Lawrence Okolie and Anthony Fowler, who makes his debut. The people’s favourite, the ‘White Rhino’, Dave Allen also faces Lenroy Thomas for the Commonwealth heavyweight title.
By Charlotte Prior. You can follow her on Twitter on @CharlotteLily89