By Lee Elford
For many observers, March 16th at Wembley Arena is Judgement day. England’s British and Commonwealth champion George Groves, 14-0 (11), takes on former Commonwealth gold medallist Kenny Anderson, 15-1 (11), of Scotland in a mouth watering battle of Britain to end any doubts as to who is the better fighter.
Back in November 2010, the two fighters come face to face after Groves’s original opponent pulled out, leaving ‘The Saint’ high and dry, having already peaked, waiting a further fortnight to face the Edinburgh aggressor.
What materialised was a tough but entertaining slugfest. Groves would be put down for the first time in his career and looked to be heading to defeat, before digging deep and stopping his man in the sixth, Anderson’s only professional defeat.
In the aftermath, there was plenty to cause debate. Anderson claimed to have been undercooked after taking the fight at short notice and insisted he would have finished off the Hammersmith man with sufficient preparation. Groves hit back, revealing that Anderson had been in full training for a fight, sparring none other than Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch.
What’s for sure is there will be no arguments next time. Groves goes into the fight the favourite after a huge win over James DeGale back in May to add the British title to his collection and an even more impressive two round blast out of tough Liverpudlian Paul Smith Jr. in November. On the contrary, Kenny Anderson hasn’t fought a twelve rounder since, stopping relative journeyman with significant ease, and he is about to face a fighter who has improved technically and physically.
“Without a doubt,” Groves confirmed to BoxingScene.com when this was put to him. “I think I’m a better fighter in many departments, gaining experience having more time in the gym becoming a better fighter. I’ve had over a year now training with my strength coach who said from day one you won’t get results over night. Strength work is a very gradual, accumulative process that’ll take years to build. I’m not at my physical peak yet but I’m definitely a lot stronger than I was 15 months ago and the results are in the gym, and I think the results are showing in the fights as well.”
With both fighters having the correct preparation this time out, George still envisages an easier night’s work upon their return bout, claiming to have tidied up the mistakes he made first time around.
“Whether or not Anderson has made improvements, I still envision this to be an easier fight, because I boxed the wrong fight last time. I’ve improved in many ways since then. I’ve had great experience boxing a variety of sparring partners over the past 15 months or whatever it’s been. I’ve been in a twelve round contest (vs. Degale) and my up close fighting has come on leaps and bounds; that’s what I’ve been doing in the gym.
“We knew how desperate he was to push for a mandatory; we had that in the back of our minds so we’ve been working on stuff which is kind of geared towards someone of Anderson’s style. We were kind of working towards that anyway with the last defence against Paul Smith who’s an aggressive orthodox fighter so it’s much the same.
“I don’t think Anderson will be doing anything different than what he did last time, because he’s only had three or four rounds of boxing. He hasn’t boxed anyone of class he’s stopped them all in about one round. I can’t see him making any improvements at this latter stage of his career; you don’t u-turn your style you stick with what you’ve got.’’
George gave Boxingscene an insight into their recent press conference. In 2010 the Scottish boxer attempted to get under his skin, flicking the hat off of Groves in a heated head to head at the weigh in. Anderson was much more reserved this time, and even declined a ‘Face Off’ for Boxnation, like the recent entertaining Vitali Klitschko and Derek Chisora televised psyche out.
“It seemed he wasn’t relying on the excuses he made before about the last fight and the reasons why he got beat,” said Groves. “Maybe he was just using those excuses to get the fight in the first place, and now that he’s got the fight he’s achieved his goal. We were supposed to do a face off for Boxnation and that would have been great being face to face, telling it as it is.
“My only real experience of that was on the Ringside show when I did it with Degale and I think I won a major psychological battle that day. I would have been more than capable of doing the same if not worse if me and Kenny were sitting in the same room. There would have been home truths and he wouldn’t have had any answer to it, which would have dented his confidence a bit.”
Should ‘The Saint’ successfully defend his British title at Wembley arena, it would mean just one more domestic victory to win the Lonsdale belt outright. Both Adam Booth and George himself have stated several times that he won’t be fighting the likes of Carl Froch and Andre Ward for another 12-18 months as he continues to improve as a fighter. But he is unsure as to whether or not his next fight would be at domestic level.
“It’s hard to tell. I’m at that stage now where I could step up if the opportunity was there; I really do want to win the British title outright. The belt I’ve got is actually a really good belt it’s got some great names on it I’d want to keep it myself – I wouldn’t want to give it back! I will have to vacate it for another title at some stage. I would love to be able to defend it again but you can never make plans in boxing because anything can happen.”
He added: “I’m pretty much ranked in the top ten of all the word governing bodies now, I’m number seven with Ring magazine so, it’s about improving those world rankings I think. Some of the fighters in there are like me, young and unbeaten. They are hard to match up against because they don’t want to lose their unbeaten records. I think I’ve showed that I don’t care, I’ve fought unbeaten fighters from early doors and a lot of these fighters don’t share that respect.
“There are a couple of other experienced fighters who are, maybe, on their way down and they are ones I’d love to have. I’m looking for meaningful fights that will make me work and make me improve as a fighter. I don’t have any specific names but there are plenty of Americans out there. I think it’d be nice to get out and box in America this year and start building my name a little stateside. My career will probably include some time over there fighting for and defending world titles.”