By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
George Groves as “an irritating little itch” ahead of their big domestic dust-up.
There is no love lost between them as they prepare for their eagerly-awaited showdown at London’s O2 Arena tonight.
The pair grew up together at the same amateur club in West London, but since joining the professional ranks a division has appeared between them.
There is mutual hatred, with Olympic gold medallist DeGale leading the way when it comes to trashing his opponent.
He said: “He is nothing but an irritating little itch on my shoulder. After this fight, I don’t want to hear his name again.”
DeGale will be defending his British super-middleweight title against Commonwealth belt holder Groves in what should be a really bruising encounter.
The pair hate each other enough for them to have proposed a “winner takes all” bet over the bout before the plan was KO’d by the British Boxing Board of Control.
But, bet or no bet, neither will need any motivational talk ahead of a bout that will catapult the winner into the realms of world title contender.
DeGale, who signed for promoter Frank Warren after his gold medal win at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, has no doubts about the outcome.
He said: “I know the flaws he has and although he thinks he can outbox me, he is wrong.
“There are only a few people in the world who can do that.”
Groves, not surprisingly, begs to differ ahead of a fight in which he believes he can inflict a first professional defeat on DeGale.
He said: “I have worked out what he does technically well because he stays low when he punches and he has a good way of hiding when he wants a rest or wants to switch off.
“But that’s a ploy I can see through and that will make it an easy night for me.
“I know him well and I will know when he’s hurt. He’s got a decent chin, or at least he fights like someone with a decent chin.
“But he’s never been hit by someone who hits as hard as I do.
“In sparring, he wears a full face headguard where any shot that goes through never marks, so he never really knows how deep or hard he’s been hit.”
Groves is determined to punish DeGale for what he believes has been a sustained personal attack in recent months.
He said: “He’s been forever calling me a boy and a kid.
“He’s going to pat me on the head and he’s looking down on me as if I’m not a worthy contender.
“But he’s in there with a man and if I start bullying him, start hurting him, how’s he going to deal with that?
“I can only see one outcome.”