By Terence Dooley
George Groves sent out a message to London rival James DeGale on Saturday night by powering his way to a fourth round stoppage win over Ghana’s Daniel Adotey Allotey on the Matchroom Sports promoted bill at Huddersfield Leisure Centre, Yorkshire.
Groves (171¼lb) started slowly in the scheduled eight-threes non-title fight, using the opening two sessions to get to grips with the Ghanaian national 168lb champion. Adotey (170¾lb) tried to rough George up in round three, throwing a swiping shot after a tangle of feet had caused the 22-year-old Commonwealth title-holder to slip to the canvas.
Referee Steve Gray took a moment to tell the visitor to keep things clean, Groves used the pause to wink at trainer Adam Booth, letting his coach know that there was no danger of the loss of control that saw Groves floored in his last fight – a dramatic Commonwealth title defence against Kenny Anderson in November of last year.
The finish came at 1:53 of round four, a pair of straight rights forced Allotey to turn his back, a third right floored him for the first knockdown of the fight. The 26-year-old beat the count but was caught by another straight right; his legs turned to jelly, signalling the end of the contest.
Allotey falls to 13-2 (6) after suffering his first stoppage reverse; the ‘Saint’ marches to 12-0 (10); the Hammersmith-based boxer was pleased with his nights work, telling me that patience had been the order of the day.
“Yeah, I never like to rush too much,” said Groves. “I didn’t know anything about him except his record but I knew that he had come to win. When you don’t know much about your opponent, you need to take a round and a half to have a look and see what is working. I wanted to produce the stuff that I’d been working on in the gym.
“Once I found the range and the tempo, I put the guy on the back-foot and that is where he didn’t want to be. The shots started flowing in the fourth round so I knew the stoppage would come. It is all perfect preparation for my next fight. It all went to plan.”
Allotey is 5’ 11’’; his gangly-armed style gave Groves the chance to take on an awkward southpaw for the first time in his paid career.
“Yeah, I got my shots going but he had a lot of fight in him”, said Groves in response to my question of whether this was good preparation for James DeGale, “and he was getting caught with my shots – he retreated across the ring before getting knocked down. When a guy goes down like that he gets back up and tries to continue but he got caught again and the referee made the right decision.”
The 2007 and 2008 ABA middleweight title winner had been gung-ho against Anderson, who floored Groves in round three of their contest. However, he denied having entertained thoughts of past mistakes during his relatively cagey start.
“No, not at all. You can’t go into the ring thinking negative thoughts,” stressed Groves when asked if the Anderson fight had prompted a cautious approach. “You have to be as positive as possible. I’m always confident in my own ability and know I will win every time I step into the ring. I approach every opponent with the same mindset.
“I’ve been sparring southpaws and the feet do clash, it is about finding your rhythm. My opponent tonight was very gangly, very unorthodox and it was almost inevitable that we’d end up tangling. I ended up slipping over with one leg hanging out the ring. You don’t notice stuff like that when you’re in there but my leg is stinging a bit now.
“You can do without that but if you take it in as an experience then it teaches you not to get rattled. You learn not to jump up, go toe-to-toe and take chances because these are distractions to be overcome. A million and one little things can happen during a fight but you overcome them and move on.”
Groves has appeared on massive shows at the MEN Arena, the Mandalay Bay and London’s O2 venue, where he made his pro debut against Kirilas Psonko. George, though, admitted that he enjoys switching things up and appearing in more intimate surroundings.
“I thank Adam [Booth] for setting this appearance up,” he said. “I’m still Georgie from the block because I have shown that I will fight on lots of different shows. I love fighting on smaller shows like this and then going to places like the MEN, Mandalay Bay and the O2 to show people that I just love boxing, love being busy and love fighting in smaller venues as well as big venues.
“The people of Huddersfield have been great to me. There was a really good crowd in there tonight. They were really appreciative of what I did and they seemed excited by the fight. That is brilliant – I’m very happy to have been put on this show.”
Allotey gave Groves the chance to explore his ability to land shots on an awkward southpaw, perfect preparation, then, for the DeGale showdown, which should be announced later this week.
Groves stated, “It is definitely on. But I’m not sure when it will be announced. There are lots of elements, it is not as straightforward as people think, but I want the fight and I think James does too so there’s no problem.
“I don’t think there could be any reason for James to move on without taking this fight. A lot of sports fans want this to happen. There is no reason for him to vacate and move on because he’s not world class yet, despite what people say, and he won’t get to world class because he won’t get through me.”
DeGale moved to 9-0 (7) courtesy of an impressive stoppage win over Paul Smith in Liverpool last December. The 25-year-old picked up the British belt with the ninth round victory and has since scoffed at suggestions that Groves could rip his Lonsdale strap away, citing the win over ‘Smigga’ as proof that he has developed into the better professional.
Groves, though, feels that the win over the Liverpudlian flattered DeGale. “James did well but I expected him to because Smith was made for him. Paul started off well but couldn’t sustain it, which is a real shame,” he opined.
“It is great for me that people are getting carried away with DeGale. You’ve got his trainer [Jim McDonnell] saying he’s a fighter that only comes around every twenty years. If James believes his own ego then more fool him. I’ve never needed James DeGale to further my career. But I will further my career in the eyes of others by taking his belt and beating him because by all accounts he’s already world class. I’ll bash him up; it will be good for boxing.”
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