George Groves is a real success story for British boxing having become a world champion at his fourth attempt and being able to retire from the sport at aged 30.
Saint George’s determination and class endeared him to a lot of fans worldwide, let alone Britain. Yet, he walks away from the sport at a time where Britain quite possibly has more young talent than it ever has.
The former WBA (Super) super-middleweight champion stopped by talkSPORT’s new offices this morning and amongst other things named his top four young fighters in the UK right now.
He started with Frank Warren’s pair of Daniel Dubois and Anthony Yarde, two men that will fight on Friday night at the Royal Albert Hall.
Dubois is 9-0 and just 21-years-old while Yarde is 17-0 and 27-years-old.
“Those two [Yarde and Dubois] are the two most exciting fighters signed to Frank Warren right now. Daniel Dubois, obviously being a heavyweight, a huge natural size on him – he actually boxed at my amateur club, Dale Youth, in west London before turning professional – just has freakish power. Still learning on the job, still pretty young and when you hit that hard, you do struggle to get those developmental fights because you just iron people out early doors.”
“Anthony Yarde, he looks the part,” Groves continued. “He’s a good fighter, I feel he’s improved a lot over the past few years and few fights, he’s on the cusp of making the step up and making a big leap of faith. I think Sergey Kovalev is a great fight for him because Kovalev is at the tail end of his career, he’s had a few losses now. He’s underperformed or he’s just starting to feel the years in his legs. But, light-heavyweight is a frightening division.”
Since retiring from boxing, Groves has moved into management working as an advisor for Wasserman Media Group and a young fighter named Conor Benn – son of the legendary Nigel Benn – is under their umbrella. At just 22-years-old, Benn has a ton of potential and is 13-0.
“Someone who works with us and he’s still a prospect, very young, is Conor Benn. I like Conor Benn. No one is going to bill him as a distinct prospect for the future as of yet because he has a lot of work to do. He’s had a couple of injuries, but he trains with my old strength and conditioning coach and looks like a phenomenal athlete, just like his dad, you know? A power fighter, a powerful young fighter and I think he’s had to learn hard, learn fast on the job, under the lights and he was instantly linked to Chris Eubank Jr who was much further along in his career at the time because they’re sons of Eubank and Benn and that iconic rivalry. So, he’s had to learn quick but I do think he can go on to the highest level.”
While Yarde is a huge British prospect at light heavyweight, so is Olympic bronze medallist Joshua Buatsi, a fighter managed by Anthony Joshua.
“Joshua Buatsi, who I’ve done a lot of work with sparring over the years, I think he’s probably, from the last Olympic cycle that came around and they all went pro, he’s the standout star in that. I think he’s further along than Yarde at the moment, I think he’s a more well-rounded fighter, he’s a student of the game, he’s an intelligent chap. He needs to come into his own a little bit, there’s an ingredient missing from him and he’s probably aware of it but he just doesn’t quite know what it is yet. He needs to get a move on because he’s a little bit older; he’s not in a rush, he’s not pushing 30 or nothing but he’s just passed that 25-mark.
“So I’d like to see him fighting for world titles in the next 12 months,” Groves stated. “I think he’s capable of that. My benchmark is: you turn professional and you should be competing for domestic championships within two years. Within four years you should be ready to fight for a world title. Sometimes you have to wait a little bit longer for that opportunity to arise to get your mandatory position and whatnot, but you should be ready. You should be able to compete with anybody int he world at that point. That’s where he’s at – he’s a very good fighter.”