By Terence Dooley
The news of George Groves's withdrawal from a mooted May 5 encounter with Robert Steiglitz due to a nose injury has left the reigning WBO titlist looking for an opponent for his Messehalle Arena showcase. To add insult to Groves's injury, Arthur Abraham has usurped “Saint” George as the WBO's number one contender and will take on the winner of May 5th's bout within 90-days according to Rick Reeno's story from earlier today.
Groves has had an injury plagued time of late, he had to pull out of a British super middleweight title defence against Scotland's Kenny Anderson after hurting his back just five-days before the proposed March 17 meeting. Fortunately, though, Groves recovered in time to ink a fight with Steiglitz, 41-2 (23), a few weeks later only for his injury problems, which have limited him to 14 rounds of action in almost a year, to nix the contest.
Anderson has thrown his name into the mix for a Stieglitz fight after hearing of Groves's stroke of bad luck. The Scottish boxer registered a third-round corner retirement win over Wayne Reed in Edinburgh on Saturday night; he is back in the gym and ready to take on Stieglitz should the 30-year-old Russia-born, Germany-based title-holder give him a call.
“I am fit and up for a fight – if an opportunity comes I will take it with both hands,” said Anderson when speaking to Boxingscene.com. “I am willing to fight the devil himself if a world title is on the line.”
Kevin Maree, who trains the 29-year-old, echoed his fighter's sentiments, telling me that the "Widowmaker" is fit and bang on the 168lb division limit. “I was told on Friday that George was going to pull out with a busted nose," said Maree when responding to the news of Groves's withdrawal.
“I got straight on the phone to people in Germany to put Kenny's name forward as he's back in the gym and in brilliant condition at the moment. We're sorry that George is injured, let's hope he recovers quickly again, but we would take this fight on short-notice if the call came in.”
He added: “Kenny came back into the gym on Sunday. If George's misfortune can hand Kenny a break then it would be brilliant because he deserves the rub of the green. Whatever belt you fight for, Central Area or the world, you are not going to have an easy fight, so Kenny's aware that it will be a tough one, but it would be a dream to him to go out there and fight for the WBO title.”
WBO title rules dictate that their champions have to select a fighter from the top 15 for a voluntary defence. However, section 36 of their regulations states that, 'The World Championships Regolations [sic] may be amended at any time, with respect to any aspect, through an exception or special case, provided the amendment is approved by the majority vote of the World Championship Committee and the Executive Committee'. Recent events would certainly trigger this clause if an opponent in the top 15 is not available for May 5.
“We know it is remote, but the Sauerlands [who promote Stieglitz] will read this and we want them to know that we're there to help them put on a great fight and a great show,” said Maree. “Stieglitz is allowed to take a voluntary, Groves is losing his number one ranking and the winner has to fight Arthur Abraham within 30-days. Obviously Kenny's not in the top 15, but he has a good record [16-1 (12)], there's his back story with Groves, he's a former Commonwealth gold medallist as an amateur and the rules state that exceptions can be made, especially at such short-notice.”
In the meantime, Anderson insisted that he will stay in the gym while waiting on news of his shelved British title challenge to Groves, who has to meet his challenger by June 30 according to the BBBoC's recent title notices.
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