After a week of stick, Groves salutes arch nemesis DeGale on retirement

George Groves tore into James DeGale at every opportunity this week, but paused today to pay tribute to his rival.

George Groves pipped James DeGale to win the Commonwealth and British super-middleweight titles in 2011.
George Groves pipped James DeGale to win the Commonwealth and British super-middleweight titles in 2011.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

GEORGE GROVES HAS rowed back on his recent criticism of James DeGale and paid tribute to his arch nemesis after ‘Chunky’ confirmed his retirement from boxing on Thursday morning.

Groves, whose bitter rivalry with the former Olympic gold medalist and professional world champion stretches back to their teenage years, had lampooned DeGale at every opportunity following the 33-year-old’s comprehensive defeat to Chris Eubank Jr last Saturday night.

DeGale’s unanimous-decision loss at London’s O2 Arena, in which he took two counts, would prove to be his final outing in the squared circle. He announced his retirement exactly 10 years to the day since he made his professional debut.

Groves, himself recently retired, inflicted upon DeGale a first-ever professional defeat during their Sky Box Office grudge match in 2011.

However, while their careers remained inextricably linked right up until they both hung up the gloves within a month of each other, there would ultimately be no sequel.

Instead, they were content to belittle each other incessantly from a safe distance.

This continued even as far as DeGale’s bout with Eubank, after which Groves did a series of interviews in which he stated his belief that DeGale was a washed-up fighter with no future in the sport, saying on more than one occasion that he was glad the boxing public would no longer have to hear from ‘Chunky’.

Speaking to Seconds Out, for example, Groves said of DeGale against Eubank: “It was just what I thought it was gonna be. I thought James DeGale is not even way past his best, he’s a shell of a fighter now, and I felt like that was what he was on fight night.

“I don’t know if he was shocked himself, whether he truly really underestimated Eubank. And it’s an attribute, to a certain degree, to have that self-confidence, that self-belief.

We’ll never hear from him again, and that suits me just fine. We never, ever have to see or hear about James DeGale ever again.

“He should have retired in the ring on the night. He should have had some humility, he should have been honest with himself. But he didn’t.

“He got annoyed ‘cause Chris said that it was comfortable — or whatever he said — and he [DeGale] said: ‘I’ve got to go and review the tapes, but I’m not saying I’m retiring.’

“I don’t think he did a post-fight press conference either. I think he went straight home. So unless he went to hospital — if he did then I apologise, James — [but] if he didn’t and he just went home, that’s it, mate. You’re done now.

Don’t call a press conference next week for retirement. No one cares. No one’s coming. We all know it already.

“We don’t have to hear from James DeGale again. Done. Thanks, Chris!”

O2 Arena Boxing A conspicuously faded DeGale was soundly beaten by slight underdog Chris Eubank Jr last Saturday night. He retired on Thursday morning. Source: Nick Potts

However, this afternoon, Groves saluted his fellow Londoner for bowing out of the sport having previously achieved such lofty heights.

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

Parking their shared animosity, Groves tweeted:

I’ve given him a lot of stick the past week after his loss at the weekend but upon his decision to retire today I want to wish @jamesdegale1 well in the next chapter of his life. You’ve made the right decision. It’s a tough sport and you reached the highest level. Congratulations.

So bitter was their rivalry, Groves was initially pulled from punditry duty for DeGale-Eubank on ITV Box Office following demands made by members of DeGale’s management.

It was only when DeGale himself stressed at the pre-fight press conference that he had no knowledge of such complaints that Groves was reinstated to the role.

Bernard Jackman joins Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey to discuss the backlash to World Rugby’s league proposal, captaincy styles, sports psychology and more in The42 Rugby Weekly.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Subscribe to our new podcast, The42 Rugby Weekly, here:

Former Olympic and world champ James DeGale retires from boxing

About the author:

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel