By Terence Dooley
Kevin Maree, the trainer of Scottish super middleweight contender Kenny Anderson, today spoke to BoxingScene about his disappointment over George Groves’s latest blog entry – entitled ‘San Jose’ – due to the tone of the piece and an error that slipped in when Groves turned his attention to his on/off rematch with Anderson.
Groves, 14-0 (11), assured his fans that he is not dodging Anderson, 17-1 (12), before pointing out that the 29-year-old is, ‘[A] man who granted has a winning record but has only ever boxed losing records apart from one, which he lost, which was against me!’ Maree pointed out that Anderson, who decisioned Ruslans Pojonisevs over six-threes in Liverpool a fortnight ago, has fought six men with winning records before expressing his disappointment over the whole saga.
“The purse bids have been put back from Wednesday for another month due to the Olympics,” said Maree when speaking to me over the phone. “Groves has a fight in the meantime [against Francisco Sierra on July 28], so that’s where we are at.
“It is a shame this blog stuff has popped up, because I just wanted to talk about Kenny’s last fight. Without being disrespectful to Pojonisevs, Kenny hasn’t had a great amount of rounds under his belt, so we had a look at Ruslans and I asked Kenny to box to orders for the first two rounds. Then he continued to box for the rest of the fight, even after he dropped him with a left hook to the body in round four.
“Kenny didn’t go gung-ho or wild, people forget that he is a fantastic boxer, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist, so he has to get back to the boxing a bit for when he gets to the higher level because he’s been knocking people out recently. Kenny won every round, everyone wants to see a knockout, but from a trainer’s point of view I was very happy with it.
“The real disappointment, for me, is that the rematch with Groves could happen towards the end of November, which will be a year since Kenny was nominated as the mandatory challenger – and that’s wrong.”
Groves was due to defend his British and Commonwealth belts against Anderson on March 16 only to pull out on the week of the fight due to a back injury. However, the Londoner recovered in time to ink a deal to fight Robert Stieglitz for the WBO belt on May 5 only to have that date nixed because of another injury.
A deadline of June 30 was set for the defence against Anderson. This was pushed back when Frank Warren Promotions Ltd. failed to find a suitable venue in time for the second date, which means that, by the time they do fight, the “Widowmaker” will have been the mandatory challenger for nigh on a year.
“I’ve got a guy who leaves his family to train, doesn’t see his three kids in the week, spends money on training costs and has to live in a hotel during camp – it is tough,” said Maree.
“If you look at the first fight, I’d stopped getting correspondence from Warren’s office a few weeks before the fight was due to take place. I was chasing them and asking about hotels, about the food at the hotel and whether we needed to bring anything else because I like to plan things out before travelling.
“I kept pestering them, but on the morning [March 12] of the actual purse bids for the Stieglitz [Groves] fight, [FWP’s matchmaker] Dean Powell was out there for the bids. We were asked two-weeks before that to do a conference call – that was cancelled. That is not professional, it is wrong and I don’t like how it was done.
“We had coach loads of fans coming down from Scotland and Manchester who booked hotel rooms and we had to tell them it was off and that they wouldn’t be getting their money back. A lot of them just came down to London for the weekend.
“Groves then starts Tweeting that he’s out doing sprints, then he’s seen at the ABA finals, where he stayed on for the full day. If you’ve got a bad back would you go and sit at an amateur boxing show? How we were treated was wrong.
“Then we’re just left dangling for the second date. We needed some assistance from the BBBoC only to get the body blow today of the bids going back again. There was a deadline of June 30 in place for the second fight. No one told us it wasn’t happening so, again, we’re training and racking up costs for the fight.
“When Dereck Chisora was due to fight Klitschko [in December 2010], and the fight got pulled, the Warren camped screamed blue murder about compensation. We’ve not had anything from anyone. We have got to sit back again and wait for another month to find out about a date for a fight that might happen in November or December. How lads carry on in boxing when things like this happen is beyond me. It is disgraceful.”
Maree has consistently poured praise on Groves and Adam Booth, who trains Groves. Groves’s blog, not to mention his failure to present an accurate portrayal of Anderson’s record, has diminished the popular boxer in the eyes of the Lancashire-based trainer.
He said: “Groves got a world title fight and would have been daft not to take it. I don’t like how they went about it that first time, but I appreciated why until I saw the arrogance of him this morning through them putting out a blog attacking Kenny.
“We’ve heard from fans today who booked hotels and train tickets for that postponed fight in March and they think that the arrogance of his failure to at least acknowledge the money they lost is a disgrace.
“The blog was also factually incorrect, I don’t know if he believes this stuff or if people just tell him it so he can sleep better at night, but he claims Kenny doesn’t deserve a title shot because he’s only fought one person with a winning record, the real number is six, George has beaten eight guys with winning records.
“I am proud to have trained Kenny throughout all of this. If I was Adam Booth, I’d sit my guy down and tell him that after all that’s been done to these lads, and for them not to screaming blue murder, means you should keep your mouth shut and don’t put out a ridiculous, derogatory blog. Let’s stop insulting the sport, the fans and each other. Let’s try to be professional. All that it has served to do is give my guy an extra ten-percent.
“We set out from day one to conduct ourselves properly. I could have come out and said what I know was going on and has been going on, but it would have just made it look like sour grapes. I’m not trying to get myself or anyone else into trouble – this is just what has happened.
“I’m so shocked and disappointed with George. We’ll carry on being professionals. We’ve been unbelievably patience despite not being told anything, so we’ve kept our dignity even at the press conference when George turned up with his body guards because he was worried about Kenny.”
The postponement of the original date was a double whammy for Maree, who expressed concern over the fact that the undercard fighters had missed out on a payday, he also felt that his charge had been misrepresented when the fight was signed due to Anderson’s refusal to take part in a round table discussion with Groves. Maree argued that Anderson’s reason for refusing to take part in the derivative format was not due to an inability to hold his temper.
“Read what Kenny’s said when the fight was postponed, he doesn’t think Groves is a coward as he’s fought him – he just didn’t like how they went about their business. Adam Booth promised us a rematch on the night of the first fight and then it went a bit quiet for a while.
“A lot was also made of Kenny not wanting to do the head-to-head [for BoxNation], but Kenny’s a boxer, not an actor, so he didn’t want to be sat at a table and used as a performing monkey for TV purposes. People thought it was because he wanted to attack George, if that was the case then he’d just have attacked him when they were posing for photos.”
“I wasn’t just annoyed today because of the work we’ve put in, what about the fans, what about the lads who should have had a place on two undercards?” asked Maree. “It is the most unprofessional, undignified, childish, patronizing and unfunny thing I’ve read from a sportsman.
“There are two things I don’t like overall, the article itself, which tried to be funny but wasn’t at all funny, and the support for this fight between David Haye and Dereck Chisora. We have a hard time in boxing. That brawl in Munich was wholly wrong, shouldn’t have happened and was an embarrassment to the sport, but we all shut up shop, didn’t talk about it and realized that, yeah, the fight would happen. George was Tweeting jokes about glassing people a few days later. They keep attempting to be funny, but this isn’t a joke – the Haye and Chisora fight is wrong.
“Kenny has earned a shot at the British title, whatever Groves thinks, and he has continued to win fights in the meantime, so he deserves his shot. George can make as many mistaken comments as he likes, but I don’t even think he writes this stuff himself because he gets told what to say and think. They feed him this nonsense to make him feel better. If Groves wants to argue that Kenny doesn’t warrant the shot then give the title up and let him get on with it.”
Certainly, the blog entry did not strike the right tone, it seemed to aim for deadpan humour, but you have to have a certain kind of wit and intelligence to pull that off (and for examples of how to do it you can visit my Twitter account @Terryboxing, where you can also learn the art of bemused insolence).
Speaking of title shots and misfires, the first postponement came against a backdrop of a police investigation into a threatening phone call made to Groves when it came to light that someone had phoned the police and threatened to shoot “The Saint”. The Sun reported the story, which garnered some public support for Groves and took the edge of the online skepticism surrounding Groves’s back injury.
Indeed, rumours that the police came close to a breakthrough when someone misheard the mumbled threat as, “I will literally shoot Groves”, came to naught and the story quickly disappeared. Maree scoffed when asked about it.
“We got a report from the police saying it was clearly a disgruntled fan – they didn’t worry about it, but had to chase the line of enquiry,” he said. “A few days later it gets in The Sun newspaper, why that was chased up and put in the public domain is something that I don’t understand.
“No one can pinpoint what that was all about. It was probably designed to get George a bit of sympathy for pulling the fight. I’m no gangster or terrorist, but if you’re going to shoot someone then are you really going to do it in a boxing arena, during a fight and in the ring after phoning through to let the police know about your plans.”
He added: “We’ve tried to conduct ourselves in the right way, we’ll carry on doing that. People ask how we put up with being so blatantly discarded and messed around. We’re putting our faith in the Board – they’ll hopefully sort this mess out.”
Please send news and views to [email protected] or Twitter @Terryboxing.