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.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick