OLD PALS George Groves and Jamie Cox are reunited tonight – but this time in the ring.
Cox was a room-mate of Groves when they were in the Great Britain amateur squads a decade or so ago hoping to make the Olympics.
Both missed out, but tonight at Wembley Arena, unbeaten underdog Cox aims to prove he deserves to be eating at boxing’s top table by snatching super-middleweight’s WBA ‘Super’ world crown from his one-time buddy.
Groves, 29, is quick to open up when asked about his time as an elite amateur and describes the group of young hopeful boxers at the time as a bunch of scallywags.
He remembered: “Me and Cox were training at Crystal Palace, we roomed together there at the ‘Old Lodge’ — it’s still there.
“We went on to room together at the multi-nation championships abroad and I remember the time we were in the Europeans in Estonia.
“We got beat as England used to back then before they had any clout. We were all robbed.
“We all got beat on the amateur stoppage rule of building a 20-point lead.
“A few of us went out afterwards, a few of us got drunk, a few of us went home, someone else was sick in another boxer’s room.
“We were all scallywags back then but Jamie went home early after he got beat.
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“Jamie was someone I knew and I was glad when we were picked to room together because he was all right, he’s a good lad.
“He had no bad habits but we never sparred because of the weight difference, he was at 64kg, I boxed at 75.
“It was all cut short when Jamie moved up to the seniors as he was a year older than me.”
The bout is part of the World Boxing Super Series, a competition aimed at finding the best super-middleweight on the planet with the eventual winner earning in the region of £8million.
All boxers are seeded and Groves as a world champion is rated at No 1 which gave him the choice of who he wanted to fight first in the competition.
He picked Cox, explaining: “Jamie was a good talented amateur who can punch hard.
“Like me he’s been boxing a long time but this is his first shot at the big time as his pro career has been stagnant.
“Jamie was the last one to get the green light for this Super Series but it’s a massive opportunity for him, his biggest pay day as well I should think.
“He’s been granted a world title shot in his first fight in the tournament, most of us have to work very hard for that. So we’ll see what he has to offer — I don’t think it will be over in a round or two but then again it might.
“I’m treating him as a live opponent, he is unbeaten, he doesn’t know what it is like to lose which makes him dangerous although he hasn’t boxed at this level.
“Cox is tough, he has stuck with it, you have to give him that respect, so if I can get rid of him early that will be a blessing, if I don’t it’s not a problem.”
Groves, who took four attempts before winning the world title by stopping Fedor Chudinov in six rounds in May, is lined up to meet Chris Eubank Jr at the next stage of the competition which is pencilled in for January 20.
‘Saint George’ added: “Before I signed up, I insisted Eubank be seeded in my half of the draw so that I’d fight him after my bout against Cox. Eubank has booked his place by stopping Avni Yildirim in three rounds in Stuttgart last week after putting him down in the first with an uppercut – now it’s my turn to book mine by beating Cox.
“I don’t think I’d be lax enough to get hit by an uppercut after the first few seconds.
“It’s a muggy shot to get hit with at the best of times.
“Only someone with the audacity Eubank has would throw an uppercut in the first round. But he does it and he does it well.
“There’s shots you want to avoid early on instead of walking on to them and the uppercut is one of them.”
Groves is too smart these days to be mugged and most expect him to be saying good night by turning out the lights on his one-time room-mate.
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