Shattering the myth

8 05 2011

From SkySports

His trainer says he could be the best British boxer ever. Many experts think he is likely to become Britain’s first Olympic gold medalist to win a world title. But to George Groves, James DeGale is a phony.

“James has been wrapped in cotton wool,” he told skysports.com.

“Ok, he was sent to Liverpool to box Paul Smith in his backyard which was pretty tough but if he could sell a ticket, I’m sure that would’ve been in London.

“He is a fighter who is being told something by so many people and it’s just not accurate; them telling him he’s world-class – he’s not; telling him he’s the best for 20 years – he’s not; is all good for me because when we get in that ring I’m going to be the person who exposes him.

“If I’d grown up believing something, believing these people around me telling me this stuff and if I get in the ring and it doesn’t happen, if I can’t do this stuff that I’ve been told, and I’m not as good as I’ve been told, I’d start doubting myself – and it would take a long time to recover from that.”

DeGale certainly looked the more agitated when the pair clashed on Ringside the day the fight was announced and even weeks on, bristles at the mention of his rival’s name while Groves remains the calmer of the two and has no problem talking about him objectively.

“He’s just the sort of guy you just have to stomach, have to take,” says Groves.

“We were never tight. Like he says, we never hung out we just boxed at Dale Youth and it’s a real close-nit club, a tiny little gym, so you’re all close together.

“He was the character he is now, just to a lesser degree, so I always used to edge away from him.

Groves is expected to give him his toughest test yet and while he might not have the silky skills of his old gym-mate, the younger man believes it will suit him down to the ground if their upcoming war turns into a battle of wills.

“I know a lot about him and he will know physically you can get yourself into shape but when it’s time to quit, who’s going to quit first?” he says.

“He knows it’s going to be him. Whenever we’ve been together, he knows I can dig deeper than him and I’ll always dig deeper than him.

“I’m talking about when we used to run together, when we used to spar together. Anything in a gym environment when we competed, he couldn’t beat me. He knows that, too.

“Once he gets beat he’s going to lose that aura around him, that invincibility, this ‘I’m the best fighter for 20 years, I’m like Floyd Mayweather, these fighters come along once in a while’; all that ‘I’ve got the heart to play the part’ crap.

“He’s going to be thinking ‘why the f*** did I say I’ve got the heart to play the part when I’m in here getting bashed up? I’ve got nowhere to go when I get bashed up’.

“And that is when the panic is going to kick in.”

“Can a fight be won before a fight? 100 per cent,” he says.

“Everything I did that first press day ratttled him and it can’t be that I’m just a genius that worked out exactly what needed to be done.

“I just think my presence just rattles him. We’ve had so much time apart, I’d made the assumption that he’d grown as a human being, but he hasn’t made that assumption for me.

“But even when I was 18 and beat him I wasn’t the kid he was referring to – I don’t know who this person is.

“As time’s gone on he’s manipulated the history we’ve had to suit him. He’s built up a false image of me.

“He thinks I’m a child still. It’s the only way he can deal with it.”

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