Popular British super middleweight George Groves was heading toward the unflattering distinction of nearly-man before winning a world title at the fourth time of asking in an emotional rollercoaster career.
Groves was born and brought up in West London. Representing England as an amateur, he was extremely talented and twice defeated James DeGale before exiting the amateur ranks with a record of 65-10.
Turning professional at the age of 20, Groves won the Commonwealth 168-pound title in just his ninth fight after stopping Charles Adamu in six.
Despite having to get off the floor to beat Scotsman Kenny Anderson, Groves continued to improve and, against the odds, edged old amateur nemesis DeGale in an authentic grudge match. A follow-up victory over veteran Glen Johnson positioned the young contender for a world title bout
That opportunity arrived when he was offered a shot at countryman Carl Froch for the IBF and WBA 168-pound titles. Groves dropped and dominated the champion early but was stopped in controversial fashion when referee Howard Foster intervened prematurely in Round 9.
On May 31, 2014 the pair met in a rematch before 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London.
“I’ve been walking around for six months thinking I’m a world champion without a belt around my waist,” Groves told The Ring. “It’s just a matter of time, and this is going to be my coming out party. This fight is so big, it doesn’t matter what happened the first time, this will eclipse it.”
It wasn’t to be as Groves suffered a shuddering one-punch knockout loss in Round 8.
Realigning himself with Sauerland Events, the ‘”Saint” got back to winning ways by outpointing Christopher Rebrasse.
“We’re eating humble pie; it’s not 80,000, it’s 8,000 next door and we struggled to sell out,” Groves recalled. “Strange, sad, but necessary.”