It has been a mixed year for George Groves; the British boxer suffered the second defeat of his professional career but also saw his profile reach stratospheric levels thanks to one of the biggest fights in British history against Carl Froch, in front of more than 80,000 people at Wembley.
The Londoner has firmly established himself as one of the best British boxers of his generation and at 26-years-old has the potential to get even better.
Despite the setback against Froch, Groves revealed there is potential for another showdown in the future and spoke about the possibility of meeting James DeGale in the ring.
Turnstyle caught up with him at JD Sports to talk about his love of Chelsea, fashion and gaming and find out what he has in store for 2015…
Who were your boxing heroes growing up?
I used to like Jake La Motta from Raging Bull. It is a fascinating film about a real tough man back when boxers were made of sterner stuff than they are now, they boxed more frequently. It was a dangerous world and he was a supreme athlete. He probably didn’t run as much as the best fighters and didn’t have the best skill but his will and his strength were something to reconcile with.
Which current fighters do you like to watch?
I’m a big Manny Pacquiao fan. I think he is past his best but his workrate, his energy and his charisma is something that everyone in boxing will appreciate. He was a formidable force a few years ago, I went to see him live when he boxed Cotta at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. That was a good night out.
If you could fight anyone past or present – who would it be?
I’d like to have had a few rounds with Marvin Hagler when he was in his prime. He would be one hell of a sparring partner. To last three rounds with him you would need something about you.
What have you made of Chelsea’s start to the season?
Chelsea have been sensational this season. We’re strong contenders to win the Premier League and I think we will do it. All teams now look at Chelsea a different way and approach Chelsea a different way. They will be looking to shut up shop or be negative with 11 men behind the ball. I don’t have as much knowledge about football as the people on TV but you hear people saying you’ve got to give a bit and let the opponents play football so that you can counter and I understand that because it is the same with boxing. If the guy has got his hands up and is taking a beating he is much harder to knock out than a guy who is coming out throwing punches.
Which Chelsea player do you think can handle himself in the ring?
Although he hits the deck pretty easily Didier Drogba could handle himself, I’m sure. He’s a solid unit and can take a whack but the one who I think has got a short fuse and a bit of a temper would be Diego Costa. He’s a fiery character and knows how to get under his opponents skin and wind them up. He’s not frightened to bite back which is something I like. He’s a little bit risky but he finds a good balance between not getting himself into too much trouble but also making his presence felt.
What’s been your best moment as a Chelsea fan?
The moment I enjoyed most, and I didn’t actually see it because I was driving home from the gym in my coach’s car, listening to the radio, was when Chelsea beat Barcelona in the Champions League. To get a result over Barcelona was fantastic. At that time I felt they were unstoppable. We didn’t win the Champions League that year but we definitely knocked the favourites out.
Who is your all-time favourite Chelsea player?
I was probably too young to see the best of him but Gianfranco Zola was a wizard, a magician and someone that as I’ve got older I’ve realised just how good he was. In more recent years it would be Frank Lampard. When I was going to games more frequently he was the main man, scoring over 20 goals a season, year in, year out from midfield.
Are you a sharp dresser or do you prefer trainers and a tracksuit?
I wear a tracksuit to work so it is nice to put on a smart shirt and get suited and booted and look my best. Mark Powell in Soho has been hooking me up for the last 18 months so every time I have got a big event or something I want to look sharp for he will sort me out. He’s got a nice style, it’s a tiny bit quirky but also has a traditional feel and a very English feel and is very smart and well-fitted. If you want to go more European than Nino’s on Brewer Street make really nice suits as well. I also work with Duffer and I really like their kit, it looks good, it feels great and it is nice to put on something I like to train in. Trainer-wise it would be Nike.
What type of music are you into?
The last song I downloaded was Take Me To Church by Hozier but I haven’t heard too much of them. I usually just Shazam whatever is on XFM or whatever I am listening to at the time. It depends what kind of mood I am in, if I am in the gym and want something with pace or tempo it will be some new punk rock like Blink 182, Fall Out Boy or Green Day or if I am in a party mood it will be hip hop and RnB like Jay-Z and Kanye West. I have a broad taste but I do like something with a bit of pace and energy.
Are you into your gadgets?
I’ve got an iPhone and a Samsung and I’m always on one or the other. Everyone is now, you have to occupy every second doing something. I’m on social media and I use Sportlobster quite a lot. They’re based round the corner from me and they’re sport specific so it works well. I’ll be in the gym using Sportlobster and trying to figure out the Tom Tom watch I have been given. I do like my gadgets.
And what about gaming?
I’ve been playing a lot of Far Cry. Far Cry 4 came out recently and it is a fantastic game, it really takes you on a journey. It’s an escape from reality and sometimes that is what I need. When I go into training for boxing I am in the zone and I need something to take me out from that which is totally different.
There has been talk about you fighting James DeGale in 2015 – is that on the horizon?
Definitely. At this moment in time neither of us have a significant belt. I’m mandatory for the WBC and he’s mandatory for the IBF. Carl Froch has the IBF and it is weird that they haven’t boxed yet, but I’m going to be boxing with Anthony Dirrel and once I’ve had that fight, and I plan to win it, I’ll make decisions about who to fight next. The DeGale fight is always going to be there I don’t need to rush to get involved and there is plenty of other opposition out there for me so it is just about keeping busy and moving in the right direction and winning a world belt.
Would you take Carl Froch on for a third time?
Yes. Once I win a WBC if I could pick a fight it would be Carl Froch. I want to get a win over him and I am capable of it. It is hard to make a prediction in boxing but I do know that my next fight will be for the WBC so that is the most important thing. Once we have got that then I will have a lot of opportunities and a lot of people will want to fight me because they know there is a value attached to it.
What have you got planned for Christmas?
I’m going to be training, not boxing training, but that’s fun. I might learn tennis or learn to climb or row or swim. Outside of the gym I will spend some time with family, try and get to Stamford Bridge to watch some football, eat, drink and be merry.
What are your ambitions for 2015?
I’m going to take over the world! I’m going to challenge for the WBC. We’re flying to Vegas on Sunday to start negotiations for that fight and hopefully we can get something signed up and sealed pretty soon and then look at a fight date of March 2015 so I will hit the ground running and start the New Year in training.