GEORGE GROVES has plenty of history with both James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jnr. He has conducted bitter rivalries with both fighters and beaten them in high profile British fights.

The now retired Groves reflected, “Eubank had really built up this thing that had gone on [in sparring] but he must have had a lot of arguments when I wasn’t there, when I’d left the gym. He never spoke once when we used to spar. We’d have sparring sessions and he’d be good work but he was a paid sparring partner. If I didn’t show up, he’d swarm me and I’d have a bad spar. Then the next week I’d have breakfast on time, get to the gym on time and switch on and he wouldn’t lay a glove on me and I’d punch him from pillar to post. That happened a few times so I could see where he got confidence but whenever I turned up he had zero success. He was riding a wave of his own hype. [The World Boxing Super Series] was good fun because you were sparring him and his dad and the WBSS who were out to get me, I felt. It was me against the world which was pretty much my comfort zone.”

The venom between Groves and DeGale was genuine. “He has taken the Eubank fight thinking he can fight me next and he can’t, that ship has sailed,” Groves said. “That fight was never going to happen because he was such a nightmare to deal, the goalposts were always moving.

“It would never have happened, I’m happy to miss out on the payday, as long as he loses it as well.”

He added, “Ideally this [Groves retiring] flattens him and demoralises him for a couple of weeks, if that was his agenda. James, to his credit, is thick skinned and has been through as much or more as me. But he’s totally deluded and that helps. He still has a job to do and it depends how seriously he takes Eubank Jr. If he is not focused then he might fall off the rails.”

George Groves

Groves made his prediction for DeGale vs Eubank when the two fight on Saturday (February 23) at the O2 arena. “I think Eubank [wins] because if they’re both in their primes DeGale would beat him pretty comfortably but DeGale never seems to be fully fit. He always finishes fights and says he was 30%, he has mad percentages, I don’t know how he works it out. He hasn’t looked great in the last two years, I think the Badou Jack fight took a lot out of him. I think he stays pretty light between camps because he struggles with the weight and that’s actually had a negative effect on him, it ages him. Eubank was riding the wave before he fought me which made him a dangerous fighter but then he lost. He gets so much stick,” Groves said. “You’ve got to be ridiculously strong minded to put up with that. Every now and again he lets it slip. He’s brought in a new coach, if it’s a coach he listens to partially, where he might impart some advice now and again, that will work well for him because I don’t think he’ll have full confidence in a coach, certainly not for one fight, it would have to be an accumulation of time to build up a rapport. I think James DeGale goes to sleep between rounds, during rounds, before and after the fight. He switches off after a certain amount of time and if Eubank lays it on him he’ll rack up the rounds.”