WBA world heavyweight champion David 'The Hayemaker' Haye has tipped stable-mate George Groves to emulate his own ring exploits and claim a world title in 2012, following 'The Saint's stunning British and Commonwealth title victory on Saturday night (May 21).
The 23-year-old Groves smartly outboxed Olympic gold medallist James DeGale in front of 15,000 fans at London's O2 Arena, and interested observer Haye believes the double domestic champion is only just getting started.
“George proved a lot of people wrong on Saturday night, but his performance was no surprise to me or his trainer Adam Booth,” said Haye. “We've always believed George has the style, intelligence and ability to get the better of James, and that's what played out at the weekend. George boxed beautifully at times and was giving DeGale problems he had yet to encounter as a professional or amateur.”
The 30-year-old Haye added: “George never made any crazy claims or boasts before the fight, and always remained quietly confident and humble. As a result, people warmed to him and got behind him on the night. It was an incredible feeling to walk with George towards the ring at the O2 Arena and hear the cheers of over 15,000 fans. The whole atmosphere felt like a world title fight between two experienced champions.
“It's easy to forget that George is a British and Commonwealth champion with only 13 pro bouts to his name. If Saturday night was a sign of things to come, George can look forward to many more packed out nights in big arenas. That fight alone has made him an overnight star.”
Despite inevitable calls for a rematch, DeGale's plans were this morning scuppered by British Boxing Board of Control Secretary Robert Smith, who told Gareth A. Davies of the Daily Telegraph, “An immediate re-match is out of the question. The Board will not be ordering a re-match. There was nothing controversial or contentious about it. No one broke any rules. Why would the Board order a re-match?”
Though he has no doubt his training partner would once again defeat DeGale in any return, Haye would like to now see Groves spread his wings and escape the bitter ten-year rivalry that helped build Saturday's battle into a pay-per-view event.
“George has the world at his feet right now, and has that perfect combination of ability, likeability and titles,” said Haye. “DeGale might claim the first of those three things, but he's lacking the other two.
“We all saw and heard how those 15,000 fans inside the O2 Arena reacted when George was announced the deserved winner. It reminded me of some of the big Ricky Hatton boxing nights at the M.E.N Arena. Also, twenty-four hours after his win, George's Twitter account (@StGeorgeGroves) had increased by over 10,000 followers. That just goes to show how the British public have taken a shine to him.
“I truly believe that now George has established himself as the best super-middleweight on the domestic scene he can go on and become one of the most popular and successful British fighters of the next era.”