George Groves recalls paying Chris Eubank Jr to spar with him ahead of pair's 2018 showdown

The fight could take place in one of London's football stadiums

Declan Taylor
Sunday 15 October 2017 22:58 BST

There was a time when George Groves used to pay Chris Eubank Jr for sparring.

The young, up-and-coming prospect would arrive at the gym with his famous father of the same name whenever Groves needed fine-tuning for a bout.

Back then, the use of

Eubank was considered by Groves a necessary expense when it came to his climb towards the upper echelons of the sport.

Now, after despatching Jamie Cox inside four rounds at Wembley Arena on Saturday, Groves must go through the Brighton man to prove he is one of the best fighters on the planet.

The self-styled Saint marched into the World Boxing Super Series last four as a result of his victory over Cox, setting up a mouth-watering all-British semi-final with Eubank early next year.

But while the excitement begins to grow for a domestic clash which has already even drawn comparisons to Eubank Senior's epic showdowns with Nigel Benn, Groves gave a withering assessment of his next opponent.

Groves is the number one seed
Groves is the number one seed (Getty)

“Eubank doesn't have the boxing brain, he is stepping up big time against me,” Groves said. “He's not good enough. I genuinely felt unstoppable against Cox. I felt I boxed very well, Eubank could quite possibly be a bit nervous about it.

”But it doesn't matter anyway, at the end of the day the very best Chris Eubank won't beat me.”

Much has changed since they used to get it on behind closed doors but Groves still remembers those sessions with the Eubank double-act.

“The last time we sparred consistently I think was when I boxed [James] DeGale which is about six years ago now,” Groves added. “He was my sparring partner, I brought him in, I paid him, I put him up, I looked after him. We didn't talk in the gym, he just came in and worked.

“I quite liked that about him at the time. I wish his dad would follow that, he would come in and chew your ear off for hours on end. But Junior would just come in, go to the back, get changed, jump in and give you the rounds you needed before going.”

Eubank secured his place in the semi-final via a three-round destruction of previously undefeated Turk Avni Yildirim in Stuttgart a week previous. He was then ringside at Wembley Arena to watch Groves do the business against Cox.

Groves won inside four rounds on Saturday night
Groves won inside four rounds on Saturday night (Getty)

The 28-year-old, 18 months younger than Groves, says he took a great deal from those sparring sessions and now knows 'what' the WBA super-middleweight champion really is.

But Groves said: “The details of sparring, I won't comment on. There is lots of footage, someone might leak it.”

Groves, who is the tournament's top seed, says it was him who requested that Eubank would be on his side of the draw so their paths would cross in the semi-final.

And the 29-year-old former British and Commonwealth champion says he has already spoken to Eubank's famous father about their potential clash – albeit briefly – at the draw in Monte Carlo in July.

“His dad has always had quite a lot of respect for me,” Groves said. “He's been quite kind to me actually.

Groves said Eubank Snr is worried he will win
Groves said Eubank Snr is worried he will win (Getty)

“In Monte Carlo his dad came out five minutes before we went to the draw, he had the bowtie on, the patent shoes, the Louis Vuitton case under his arm and he said, 'Oh George, you better not beat my son'.

“I thought, 'he's conforming already! He knows'. It was the last thing I thought he would say.

“It is because he got there a bit flustered, he had just jumped off a plane, he hadn't thought about what to say because an hour later we were behind the curtain and he was shrugging his shoulders and saying, 'Do you think the board would give me a licence to go in this tournament'. I said, 'of course not Chris you're far too old'.

“But he is just enjoying himself and living through his son. His son is starting to find his own feet, what comes with that will be its own pressure.”

As of yet, there is no confirmed venue for the clash, although it is not out of the question that the promoters behind the event, Kalle and Nisse Sauerland, will take the fight outdoors despite the potentially freezing winter conditions.

Groves wants to prove he is one of the best in the world
Groves wants to prove he is one of the best in the world (Getty)

What's more, many football clubs are not willing to stage a fight which could potentially damage their pitch midway through the season, although Fulham's Craven Cottage remains a possibility.

Kalle Sauerland said: “At the moment we are not fixed on a date – January or February – and we could go as late as the last weekend in February.

“We've had some meetings in London about it already. We're not sure if we're going indoor or outdoor yet – it's very difficult to find venues in London. We have a pencil on Wembley, we have a pencil also on another big venue.

“Hat and gloves will be on the menu. Fulham is one we've looked at but we have to find a club that has the schedule which will allow the pitch to recover. It's a little bit tricky like that.

“I think we could take it anywhere. Cardiff's Principality Stadium would be one that we'd definitely talk to also. I think this fight could do 40-50,000 with ease.

“They're both southern boxers but we're not ruling out northern venues. This is a British fight. George has been in big fights up north, Eubank Senior has been in massive fights up north. I think it's a fight we could take anywhere in the UK.

“The biggest thing we need is the gaps in the calendar that will allow for it – we almost need two weeks, back-to-back, which are clear. We will find a creative venue for it.”

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