Tommy Barber – London
James DeGale‘s trainer, Jim McDonnell, has questioned the motives behind Adam Booth and Hayemaker Promotions in matching George Groves with DeGale. McDonnell believes they booked the fight because of the payday that is associated with the highly-anticipated grudge-match.
Despite not headlining the May 21 bill at the 02 Arena, Greenwich, London, and serving merely as a supporting act for Nathan Cleverly’s WBO World Light Heavyweight title challenge against Juergen Braehmer, the expectation, media coverage as well as the verbal jousting that has accompanied the build-up to DeGale and Groves’ bout has been so great it befits a main event in itself.
McDonnell has overseen the rise of DeGale; a prodigious super middleweight talent and current incumbent of the British belt, and is not averse to making public his assertion that Groves is not ready for a boxer of DeGale’s calibre.
“[What I say] won’t affect Adam [Booth, Groves' manager and trainer] because he won’t take no punches,” McDonnell said recently on FrankWarren.tv. “But when the truth comes in, it comes out and he [Groves] knows straight away I am just being honest… he’s confident now because it’s weeks and weeks away but when he makes that walk on the night – wow! He’ll know; he ain’t ready for James DeGale.”
It’s bad timing
for Groves… but
good for DeGale
McDonnell stated that a defeat to DeGale now, when Groves is still a promising prospect, could do a great amount of damage to the 23-year-old’s burgeoning career and if he was representing ‘The Saint’ then he would not have matched him with DeGale until both were at the elite and ready for a world title.
“Because of the mannerisms and the background and the history, unlike a normal defeat, this one will be like, wow, massive. I don’t think he’ll ever become the fighter he would have become if he had done another route, let him learn his trade and maybe challenge James for a world title.
“George is that good,” McDonnell insisted, refusing to write-off Groves completely. “He’s a good prospect, he’s got a load of ability and he could improve vastly – and he needs to – but he hasn’t got time in the next ten weeks or nine weeks to make the improvements or adjustments to even compete with James let alone beat him.
“I do believe if you put a lie-detector on George’s head and on Adam’s head and asked ‘Do you really think you can beat James DeGale?’ They don’t; they really don’t. And they’re trying to convince the press and that… it’s a good payday for him.”
While DeGale’s year last year was phenom-like, culminating with an outstanding performance against world-ranked Paul Smith, Groves quietly went about his business, picking up the Commonwealth belt. However, against Kenny Anderson he almost lost the title due to a knockdown in the third round yet rallied to win himself a sixth round stoppage.
“I just think they’ve looked at his [Groves'] last couple fights and have made a business decision that he could get knocked out before he gets the paydays,” continued McDonnell. “At least this way he’s getting a payday but I think differently; I think George learns his trade properly, goes to the States, spars the right people, gets the right fights… he can be a European champion and be the full package because he is a tremendous fighter.
“Then, at a later date, in two years time, fight DeGale. It’s bad timing for George now but it’s good timing for James,” concluded the trainer.