Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'I Had to Work So Hard to Be a Champion. I Won't Slip Up'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'I Had to Work So Hard to Be a Champion. I Won't Slip Up'

Article excerpt

Byline: John Dillon

GEORGE GROVES says he has suffered too much heartache in the ring to let it slip against Chris Eubank Jr in his world title unification fight on Saturday.

It took three defeats at the highest level before Groves won the WBA super-middleweight belt that he will defend against Eubank Jr, holder of the IBO crown, at the Manchester Arena.

The 29-year-old has been campaigning at the top for seven years now and it can leave some boxers jaded and with too many miles on the clock.

But the Londoner is adamant the challenge posed by Eubank Jr is exactly what he needs to keep him hungry, sharp and focused enough to build a championship legacy.

"I had to work so hard for so long to become a world champion and I want to make it last a long time," said Groves, who was twice knocked out by Britain's Carl Froch and lost a brutal battle against Sweden's Badou Jack before claiming his title.

"Once you get there it's even harder to stay there. You really don't want to let it slip away after going through so much to get where you are.

"I've lost many different ways and none are easier than the other. And I can see that Eubank is already looking beyond this fight and thinking about being a champion and buying big houses in Brighton.

"I've done that myself in the past. I've dreamed of being champion. There is a big fall from grace after the fight when it doesn't happen. It can be a tough road back, believe me."

And Groves did come back in style, knocking out Russia's Fedor Chudinov in Sheffield last May to win the WBA title and he will be making the second defence of that crown on Saturday.

Groves knows his opponent, who won the IBO super-middleweight title when knocking out Australia's Renold Quinlan a year ago, is the sort of test that will keep him on his toes but he is refusing to look too far ahead.

He added: "There is a lot more to achieve but I'm not looking past him as some kind of filler before what I do next. Now I just want to win as many fights as I can. I want to be world champion for as long as I can.

"That is why I kept going and why I have aims now. Then I eventually want to retire as world champion. …

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