Groves Defection Leaves Warren Fight Card in Tatters

By Mark Whalley

Monday’s news that “Saint” George Groves has left Frank Warren’s stable of fighters to join rival promoter Eddie Hearn’s “Matchroom” team has thrown Warren’s March 16th Wembley Arena extravaganza into further disarray.

Warren’s weekend had already been dramatic enough, with Scottish headliner Ricky Burns finding himself without an opponent for the second time in three months following the late withdrawal of IBF lightweight world champion Miguel Vazquez.

Burns’ camp is rightly furious with the latest turn of events, with manager Alex Morrison being quoted as saying the latest postponement is “unacceptable”.

He confirmed that Burns has now sunk £12,000 into training for two fights that have not happened.

His potential duel with Adrien Broner now looks further away than ever.

However, it is the news that Groves has decided his best chance of success lies elsewhere that will most rile veteran promoter Warren.

The likeable Hammersmith super-middleweight is unbeaten in 16 fights, the most notable being a split decision victory over bitter rival James DeGale in 2011.

He is said to be disillusioned with Warren’s matchmaking, believing that he should be in more prestigious fights than the European title fight with Mohamed Ali Ndiaye scheduled by Warren.

Groves’ ambition is admirable, but if his belief is that he should be challenging for world titles now then he would likely find himself falling short in a fiercely competitive division, bossed by the likes of Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, and top pound-for-pound superstar Andre Ward.

His best chance would appear to be fighting the winner of the upcoming WBO title fight between Arthur Abraham and Robert Stieglitz. Neither are in the class of Froch, Kessler or Ward.

He has clearly decided that, whatever his prospects, he would be better served with the emergent Hearn than Warren.

He will now have a 10-round tune-up fight with unheralded Argentine Dario German Balmaceda this weekend.

Warren, for whom the March 16th bill would have been his biggest card since David Haye fought Dereck Chisora last summer, must regroup. His rescheduled card is set for April 20th.

Matchroom’s Hearn has arguably surpassed him as the premier promoter in British boxing, but Warren has been in the game a long time and has seen off threats before.

He has a fierce will to win, and a joker card in the form of his Boxnation television channel.

Ominously, Hearn has revealed that Matchroom will announce two more signings in the next fortnight.

Rumours are that one or both could be existing charges of Warren. But expect Warren to hit back, hard.

Not all of the biggest battles in British boxing take place in the ring.