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Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Monday, 16 May 2011 12:24 UK

DeGale is a child in a man's game - Groves

James DeGale v George Groves/Nathan Cleverly v Juergen Braehmer
Date: Saturday 21 May Venue: O2 Arena Coverage details: Live on Sky Box Office from 2000 BST and BBC Radio 5 live from 2145 BST

By Ben Dirs

James Degale (left) and George Groves
DeGale (left) and Groves have professed a genuine dislike for one another

Challenger George Groves has vowed to unmask James DeGale as "a child in a man's game" in Saturday's British super-middleweight title clash.

The pair are bitter rivals from their amateur days, with Groves holding a win over the Olympic gold medallist.

"I think he's decided I'm going to come and have it with him, and I might just do that," Groves told BBC Sport.

"He's obviously not a man mentally, and I might go out and show he can't deal with a man physically either."

The pair were gym-mates at Dale Youth Amateur Boxing Club in west London but their relationship took a turn for the worse when Groves - who is two years younger than his opponent - beat DeGale on the way to winning the first of two ABA titles in 2007.

However, and to Groves' chagrin, DeGale was picked for the 2008 Olympics, where he won gold in the middleweight division.

Once DeGale is taken out of his comfort zone, once he has to rely on his instincts, he's got no Plan B

George Groves

The ill-tempered build-up to Saturday's fight at London's O2 Arena means it has effectively stolen top billing from Nathan Cleverly's world title tilt against Juergen Braehmer.

And Commonwealth champion Groves, 23, is confident he will have the lion's share of support on the night.

"He claims he's sold 900 tickets personally, and I'm chuffed to hear that," said Groves, who is unbeaten in 12 professional fights, with 10 knockouts.

"First because I find it slightly difficult to believe. But even if it is true, I'm pretty sure those 900 will be drowned out by the support I'll have at the O2.

"People are just so excited about this fight, it's a grudge match, a massive rivalry between Londoners.

"I've got people I don't know coming up to me and saying how they want me to shut James DeGale up.

"There are even people saying 'I fancy DeGale to win, but I hope you knock him out,' which at least is honest.

"No-one really likes him and once you finish in boxing, once that final bell goes, that's the rest of your life - and it's not nice when people dislike you."

Groves also responded to DeGale's claims he has no defence, suggesting the champion is a one-dimensional fighter.

Groves has got nothing but an ugly face

James DeGale

"I need to tighten up, I know my defence isn't perfect, but people need to concentrate not so much on the negatives and look at the positives as well," said Groves.

"I was trying a lot of new stuff in the Kenny Anderson fight [Groves was floored on the way to defending his Commonwealth crown last November], new defensive techniques that didn't turn out quite right because I didn't have enough time to drill them.

"But I've learned from that and improved on that. I haven't just turned professional and tried to build on my main strengths as an amateur and neglected my weaknesses.

"I don't want to be a one-trick pony like James - he's worked on his attacking attributes, which is that he stays low and lets his hands go, but other than that there's not too much else to his game.

"Once he's taken out of his comfort zone, once he has to rely on his instincts, he's got no Plan B."

Meanwhile, DeGale said he is unconcerned by the presence of heavyweight world champion David Haye in Groves' corner.

Haye and Groves are stable-mates and share the same trainer and manager in Adam Booth.

"It will make victory all the sweeter because I don't like Haye much either," said the 25-year-old DeGale.

"At least Haye's got a world title. Groves has got nothing but an ugly face. He's just a wannabe who lives off Haye's name."

DeGale is unbeaten in 10 pro fights with eight knockouts. He won the British title with a ninth-round stoppage of Paul Smith last December.



see also
DeGale and Groves renew rivalries
05 May 11 |  Boxing
DeGale to face Groves challenge
17 Mar 11 |  Boxing
Groves eyes DeGale after victory
05 Mar 11 |  Boxing
DeGale may face old amateur rival
03 Feb 10 |  Boxing
Superb DeGale lands boxing gold
23 Aug 08 |  Boxing


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