The last words
Before walking the walk, James DeGale and George Groves talk the talk for one last time in our quickfire Q&A...
By Tim Hobbs
Last Updated: 21/05/11 10:07am
Tonight at the O2 Arena James DeGale and George Groves will walk the walk.
They have of course, more than talked the talk. Over the past few weeks the insults and boasts have been flying back and forth as years of animosity have come pouring out in press conferences and interviews from both.
skysports.com has been with both men from the very start and although we couldn't get them to sit down together for the same interview, we did get them to take part in a quickfire Q&A.
Over the past month we have put the same questions to DeGale and Groves, to get to the heart of their bitter feud and find out what they really think bout each other, their fued and the fight itself.
With fight night hours away, here are the famous last words from two young men with so much to win - and a whole lot more to lose...
Describe your relationship as amatuers...
GROVES: He was a fat light-heavyweight and I was probably a light-welterweight and we used to do a bit of sparring together. We were tolerable of each other, I guess. Oh, and he was always the one at the back when we used to go running.
DeGALE: We never fell out because we were never close enough to fall in. We were never friends, we were associates, we trained together but we never went out. We sparred a lot. I used to mash him up, school him. Every time.
What do you dislike most about him now?
GROVES: I feel neither way about him... it's hard to say what I dislike - but it's much harder to say anything that I like.
DeGALE: Come on! Look at him, look at him his team, the way he acts. He's very smug. I think he wants everyone to feel sorry for him. He's very softly-spoken so he comes across well but he's not like that. He's smug and he's horrible.
When was the last time you were nice to each other?
GROVES: I genuinely can't remember. If he did come up and wish me well after I beat him in the ABA's, I'm pretty sure it would have been through gritted teeth
DeGALE: It might have been then, but I can't remember. I probably wished him well, but I really can't remember.
Was this fight always unavoidable?
GROVES: Of course. As long as he stayed unbeaten, as I plan to do, this fight was inevitable - that's what we'd have called it if we'd promoted it, Inevitable.
DeGALE: It had to happen now otherwise it wouldn't have happened because he's ready to get beat and I want to be the first one to beat him. He's gonna get beat by the Golden Boy James DeGale, so he can come again.
Did you expect it to happen so early?
GROVES: I did, I genuinely did. As soon as I realised he wanted to fight, I knew it was gonna happen. That's why I strategically went down against Kenny Anderson, just to grease the wheels. They were peachy-keen after that!
DeGALE: I've always been telling Frank to get it on and Frank wanted to make it as well. It was just all the politics, them going back and forth with Frank, that delayed it. That was all bull**** but it does't matter now... the fight's on.
Have you followed each other's pro careers closely?
GROVES: Not closely. I've kept an eye on him because he's a super-middleweight and therefore a rival; you keep an eye on them make sure they're all coming along. Once he started stepping up he was not performing well, like against Nathan King, or they were getting blown over in a couple of minutes like Carl Dilks. His defining fight was against Smith - that's probably the fight I've seen the most.
DeGALE: Obviously I watch Saturday Fight Night every week so you get to see everyone. I've watched him - and I'm not impressed to be honest. He's got more balls than brains this guy - but I still see fear.
What's been different about this camp?
GROVES: Apart from the fact I got some sunshine when I started? We've kicked it up a notch. It's been intense, really intense. We've done a lot of sparring because it's been a long time since I got in with a southpaw.
DeGALE: We ain't changed nothing. It's just been the hard graft as normal, a lot of sparring and a lot of hard graft.
What would defeat mean to you?
GROVES: I literally don't have a clue because I've not thought about it; as a boxer you never think about getting beat. I think about situations I might be in during the fight because it's no good when you're doing your long jogs and you're thinking about bashing someone up in the corner. I think about if I get trapped, what am I going to do? When I get caught with this shot, what am I going to do? But think about losing? It's never entered my head.
DeGALE: I've not even thought about it because it ain't gonna happen. All I've been thinking about is how I'm going to win, how I'm going to knock him out. I can't wait to knock him out.
What would victory mean to you?
GROVES: I'm going in with one and coming out with two - that was one of my friend's lines. I've always wanted the British title, it's a lovely belt, the history, the heritage. But I haven't thought about where I would go from there, I haven't mentioned it to Adam. We're happy where we'll be, my profile will have been raised and there'll be more big, big fights in 2012.
DeGALE: I need to get this out of the way. This is just an itch on my shoulder and once I've got rid of the itch I can move on. And once I've got rid of that itch, I don't want to hear his name agaiin. Everyone keeps asking me about this ugly ginger kid; who is he? Can you deal with him? He keeps running his mouth.
Give us your prediction...
GROVES: It won't go the distance. He'll get stopped; he'll either get knocked out or I genuinely believe Jim McDonnell's going to throw the towel in. And he won't be able to speak to poor Jim again.
DeGALE: Ugly Kid will get knocked out in four rounds if he comes to fight; if he tries to make it technical it might last a couple more rounds. But it doesn't matter, I'm going to get the 'w'. I just want to knock him out early - and look good doing it.
And finally... will you make up afterwards?
GROVES: I'm not sure. It depends... he's definitely not coming to the family barbecue! It would be nice to think we'll shake hands at the end, as you always do. I don't hate anyone I box, I don't hate James DeGale - but I definitely don't like him. It would mean nothing if we did shake hands.
DeGALE: I will probably shake his hand once I've knocked him out, give him a pat on the head and say 'don't worry son, you'll be back'.