By Jake Donovan
Unbeaten super middleweight contender George Groves is anxious to make up for lost time.
It’s been nearly nine months since his last ring appearance, which didn’t last very long at all in blasting out Paul Smith in two rounds. The quick ending came on the heels of a six-month layoff following a (to date) career-best win over James ‘Chunky’ DeGale in their grudge match last May.
The 24-year old London is now booked for a pair of fights in a span of six weeks. Discussions are ongoing for a planned rematch with Kenny Anderson in September, though the fight is threatening to go to purse bids.
In the meantime, Groves (14-0, 11KO) returns to the ring this weekend, fighting for just the second time in the U.S. as he faces Francisco Sierra at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The headlining bout of the evening pits hometown favorite Robert Guerrero against unbeaten welterweight Selcuk Aydin in a Showtime-televised main event.
Groves’ ring appearance will air as part of a lead-in broadcast on affiliated network Showtime Extreme in the United States, as well as Boxnation back home in the United Kingdom.
“I was scratching around for a fight for the past few months. There weren’t any suitable shows in the UK so Golden Boy stepped up and put us on the show,” Groves noted, anxious to return to the ring. “So now I’m here in sunny San Jose. Boxnation has been involved in a lot of Golden Boy shows so I will now get showcased on both sides of the pond.”
Groves’ inactivity is self-inflicted, as he was forced to pull out of consecutive fights due to injury.
A rematch with Anderson was in place earlier this year before the event was canceled after Groves reportedly suffered a back injury in training camp. The claim was disputed – though never disproven - after his name was almost immediately thereafter linked to a May showdown with super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz, though that fight was suffering yet another injury.
“I haven’t been as active as I want to be, but now I have this fight and a 12-round championship fight coming up,” Groves states. “I had quite a bit of time out after beating DeGale before returning (six months later) to take out Paul Smith in two rounds. I’m not worried about ring rust.”
The layoff aside, Groves is anxious to showcase his talents to the stateside boxing audience, in addition to working on several adjustments made during a year spent in the gym.
“You’ll see a new side to me, more boxing and a much more fluid style than you’ve seen me put together in past fights. When it comes to the actual gym work, I’m putting in the work. I’ve now had three training camps going into this fight. I’ve made the improvements in the gym but just haven’t been given the chance to show it in a fight.”
Many were surprised by the announcement of Sierra (25-3-1, 22KO) as the opponent, given that he is in negotiation for a rematch with Anderson to headline a major show at Wembley Arena in September. Groves is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead, but is intent on proving his worth as a viable contender in a loaded super middleweight division.
“Keeping busy and getting in as much action as possible is important to me for this year,” said Groves. “I’m looking forward to this and then jumping back into the ring just six weeks later.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox