That night in November 2010, a wild and reckless ‘Saint’ was floored in the third round, only to display his mettle by rallying to stop the Scot in the sixth. Though the outcome was undisputable, a sense of unfinished business lingered as the two men went their separate ways; it marked Groves’ first knockdown as a professional, and Anderson’s sole loss.
Experiencing both triumph and disaster, it was the least effective performance of Groves’ fledgling career, and one he has vowed to correct with a clinical and composed destruction of his challenger on March 16. Far from treading over old ground, it is a chance to lay remaining doubts to rest. Both men desire the victory, not only to further their careers, but to undo mistakes of the past.
The rugged Scotsman maintains that his lack of notice and insufficient preparations marred his performance against the rising super-middleweight star Groves. Angry before, during, and after their fight, he is troubled by the loss. Though respectful with his words thus far, Anderson believes he is the more powerful contender in the ring, and should have finished his rival when he had the chance.
Having sailed through his last three outings, his confidence is high, even if the calibre of his opponents has been low. With a procession of journeymen as fodder for the 29-year-old, he has charged his way into contention, appearing refocused and reenergised. Groves, conversely, has defeated top British names James DeGale and Paul Smith, boasting the British and Commonwealth titles to his name.
With every appearance the young English prizefighter has shown a steady progression, and a second date with Anderson will be a chance to witness just how far he has come. Months of hard work, dedication, and challenging match-ups have seen Groves’ pugilistic repertoire evolve. He will be a more demanding task for Anderson now, and not the same reckless brawler that survived a knockdown in their first contest. ‘The Saint’ was fearless during their six thrilling rounds of action, to his own detriment at times, and will be eager to dominate in the superior style he now possesses.
The Edinburgh man presents the right mix of toughness, aggression and pressure to test Groves’ wits and nerve. Anderson will move forward and look to land the same quick, concussive shots that slipped through the Londoner’s defensive weaknesses in their previous war. He is the type of battler that thrives on a slugfest, and will want to drag Groves from sense and reason into the heat of conflict.
A highly competitive and voracious young prizefighter,
Groves needed his temperament cooling after wild exchanges with Anderson
in their previous clash. Time and experience should steer him clear of
similar traps in the rematch, and provide an opportunity to exhibit his
increasing ring nous. His heart and resilience is unquestionable, but
Groves will not want to test his chin in the brazen manner he has done
so previously. As he creeps closer to world level, there are still
adjustments to make and room to grow as a professional. With only 14
fights behind him, he is learning with every performance, and not
looking past the strong and courageous Scotsman.
A firm underdog, former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anderson is
hungry to prove he is among the top boxers in Britain by storming into
Groves’ backyard to take the titles. His ability to cut the ring off and
charge at his opponents, along with an industrious approach to the
sport, has won him a loyal following among fight fans. After losing to
Groves in 2010, the Scottish prizefighter has grafted away to rebuild
his career, which stands at an impressive 15 wins and 11 knockouts.
Constantly reminded of his third round rattling of Groves, and his own
subsequent undoing, the lone defeat has wounded him deeply. A win on
March 16 would be a tremendous boost to his profile, and bring him the
respect he feels he deserves. In a rematch he considers long overdue,
Anderson appears fuelled by past bitterness and regret to spoil Groves’
Yet the 23-year-old Londoner has been involved in some of the most
electrifying domestic tear-ups in the months since his victory over the
Scot. A career that has gone from strength-to-strength, his
opportunities to beat the best in country have been rightly at the
forefront of his mind. His last contest with former British champion
Paul Smith turned detractors into fans. A flighty first round looked to
have him in hot water, but an unperturbed Groves landed a stunning
right hook that shook the Liverpudlian to the core. Many observers
wrongly predicted a technical showcase of boxing on the back foot, but
were silenced by his second round KO of the seasoned Smith. Often
critiqued for his lack of emphatic stoppages, Groves put his single-shot
power on display with shattering consequences.
As one of the most exciting prospects in Britain, it is encouraging that
his career is being moulded with care and precision under the tutelage
of Adam Booth. Another crack at Anderson meets the perfect balance of
risk and benefit to set the super-middleweight up for bigger things.
Timing will be crucial for a move up to the world’s elite. With so much
ahead of him, he must learn to neutralize the attacking style and power
of opponents like Anderson if he wishes to make his mark in a highly
competitive division. The young prizefighter will be driven like never
before to prove his point.
Boxing is about more than aggression and force. It is a technical game
where emotions must always be in check. An affable character whose
popularity with fans increases with every performance, George Groves is
ready to put his worst moments behind him, and box with his brain rather
than his sense of pride. In a contest that is unlikely to go the
distance, expect to see ‘The Saint’ at his best: clear, decisive, and
ready for victory. Wherever the fight ends up, Groves will aim to have
the tools of the trade to dismantle his foe.
Viewers will not want to miss a matchup that boasts such history, drama
and an explosive combination of styles. With both men ambitious and set
on redemption, the fight is sure to be another thriller. British boxing
is raising its game again.
George Groves vs.
Kenny Anderson will be live on BoxNation, Sky channel 456 and Virgin channel
546 on March 16.
By Jane G.