Carl Froch v George Groves: 'Before a fight I am more like a serial killer', says Groves before Wembley bout

Groves tells Robin Scott-Elliot how his solo battle for a rematch against Carl Froch at Wembley will help him in the ring – and he has more than revenge on his mind

George Groves is miming packing a suitcase, or rather how to pack a suitcase in a hurry the Groves way. The  reimagined scene is a hotel room in New Jersey and Groves is a little worse for wear following an afternoon that stretched into an evening in an Irish bar across the road from the headquarters of the International Boxing Federation. He sweeps up his clothes, crams them into the case and then dashes for the airport, catching his flight with minutes to spare.

The spur-of-the-moment celebration was to mark the IBF granting him a rematch against Carl Froch. It is almost certainly the most important decision Groves has won in his career, and certainly a fairer one than the call made by the referee, Howard Foster, in the ninth round of their first meeting to stop the fight in Froch’s favour.

“We headed straight for the Irish bar across the road,” says Groves. “I don’t know what happened after that. We left the pub about four hours later! We were supposed to catch a flight to LA. It was the quickest pack I have ever done and we were off. I was hanging.”

On Saturday the verdict reached by the IBF’s panel brings the two together again. This time it will be at Wembley and close to 80,000 will be there to see it. Even if the hype surrounding a rematch between opponents who care little for each other is discounted, we are still left with a fight that is a big deal for British boxing, a throwback to the grand old days of packed football stadiums and national attention. The first 60,000 tickets sold in an hour.

“It’s iconic, it’s Wembley,” says Groves, himself a Londoner, born and bred in the west of the capital. “When I go running up Primrose Hill you can see the arch. It’s a great thing and it’s a proud spot for London. The O2 arena has been a great place for boxing in recent years, there are the small hall shows and famous places like York Hall but you box there as an amateur. Those are something you become accustomed to. This will be a whole new stratosphere.”

It is a sphere, strato or otherwise, Groves has negotiated his own way into, both in and out of the ring. He has travelled light. The 26-year-old manages himself alongside his lawyer, Neil Sibley, and trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick. Groves sat down and did the deal for his cut at Wembley, just as he sat down and argued his case with the IBF. He has now reached agreement with the German promoters Sauerland, a deal which begins after the Froch fight, having looked after himself since splitting with Adam Booth and Hayemaker, a parting Groves describes as “abrupt” and one that saw a “lot of trust lost”.

Groves works the pads with trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick (PA) Groves works the pads with trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick (PA)
Groves says: “I wasn’t ready at that point to hand over so much trust to someone else, especially when I felt I was in such a valuable position in my career. I knew I could take care of myself, I knew I could get this rematch. I know how to read a spreadsheet, I know what I’m worth so I can go into meetings and say, ‘I get paid that much, thank you’. That stuff is easy.

“I successfully negotiated what’s been billed as the biggest British fight of all time. I did that all by myself. I can play poker when I have to and I think it has made me a better fighter.”

Having to fight his own fight has helped Groves move on from losing to Froch – not that he accepts he lost back in November. There was work to be done but nevertheless the loneliness of the fight game, where chances don’t come along often, gnawed at him. There were low moments before he could cross the road to that Irish bar.

“Certainly,” says Groves. “It is an individual sport and you don’t get many opportunities to overturn dodgy decisions. This could have set me back two or three years. We will beat Carl Froch the same as I did the first time and then be world champion and be in a position of power. But there were definitely times when you felt like…” He sucks in his breath then continues: “This is getting a bit too much. It’s tough you, know. You have to hold it together and there is only so often you want to hold it together.”

This is a fight Groves insists he has been preparing for since the moment the previous encounter was interrupted but he also insists revenge – for all his willingness to stir things with Froch – is not his defining desire. Rather it is the belt that could be fastened around his middle.

“It will be a life-long goal achieved,” he says. “It will be a fantastic thing to become world champion and go down my amateur club with the belt, show it to the lads and my mum and dad – all those things you dream about for years on end, but until that stuff becomes a reality I try not to think about it because you end up winding yourself up.

“Beating Carl isn’t a motivation. Even righting the wrong, you can’t compare it as a motivation compared to the rest of it. It’s about winning and winning at all costs. I’m looking forward to my profile being raised more than beating Carl.”

George Groves lands a stiff left on Carl Froch's chin during their controversial first fight (Getty) George Groves lands a stiff left on Carl Froch's chin during their controversial first fight (Getty)
Of Groves’ 19 professional fights, the two that have done most to raise his profile are the victory over James DeGale and the loss, his only loss, to Froch. Each was notable for bad blood in the build-up. Does he like to dislike his opponent?

“I neither like or dislike. It sounds very arrogant but I don’t let emotion play a part in my performance. I’m not going to punch with anger. I punch because the punch is there to be taken; complete composure, emotionless. That’s clinical – that’s the serial killer mentality I was talking about.”

The serial killer had come up earlier. We were talking about Wembley, walking out in front of all those people, the noise, the excitement and what it might be like for him as an experience. He starts talking about how he readies himself for a fight.

“I stop being a human being for the last five weeks [before a fight]. I’m more like a serial killer,” he says and laughs as if placing it in its sporting context. “You are preparing for a fight. You are preparing for war. You are preparing to win at all costs and come fight night you are never more in tune with what’s in front of you.

“It is hard to absorb the size of a crowd in the heat of a moment. You are focused on the fight. The guy in front of you is all your mind is on, that’s your primary objective, your target. You have a really heightened sense of emotion. You feel like you are walking a tightrope of joy and anger and sadness – you can feel it almost on your chest, but that’s great because it lets you know you’re living, lets you know you’re alive and your blood’s pumping and it’s when you get your best performances out. So as long as you learn to control it and contain it, take a steady breath and execute.”

George Groves was in  JD Sports’ London flagship store on Oxford Street to launch a partnership with the Duffer of St George.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution