Badou Jack and George Groves are set to meet on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s clash with Andre Berto this Saturday night. Ahead of their meeting they answered some questions, and you can read the full transcript below.
George, I just want to talk to you about fighting in Las Vegas and what that’s going to be like against the Mayweather home fighter.
Well, certainly boxing in Vegas is always exciting. I boxed out there as an amateur and a professional. Always successfully. Plus this time obviously with a substantial belt on the line. So I’m extremely excited. When you’re a kid you dream about boxing and headlining.
One of those feats is to fight for a world title in Vegas. Now I have a chance to fulfill that. Boxing in Mayweather’s hometown isn’t a problem, it makes sense. Just another fighter.
There are no fighters I’d never do business. I do not mind who it is. It could be anyone in the world. I’m sure I’ll beat anyone in the world the way I’m training while performing right now. So it’s going to be even sweeter that it is on a Floyd boy.
Are you looking to make a massive statement in the U.S.?
Yes. Brits have come over and tried to conquer America before. I don’t forget that it’s an undercard fight so these things tend to slip underneath the radar. Luckily, everyone is really excited about the card for this show.
We’re going to go out there and perform and make sure that we plan to steal the show. Last time I boxed on Showtime it went well. Got good reviews. Same again this time.
Badou what you know of George and what have you made of his defeats to Carl Froch?
He’s a very good fighter. Carl Froch is also a very good fighter and he came up short. But, things happen in boxing. You get hit with a good shot and that’s it.
But I’m a different fighter from Carl Froch. I have more hand speed. I’m a very technical fighter, in my opinion. But I’m not taking anything away from Carl Froch. He’s a very great fighter. He’s a legend. But this is a different fight. So, yes, I’m ready to go.
Badou, do think this will be a tougher fight for George than the Carl Froch fight?
I cannot answer that question. You have to ask George Groves that question after the fight. I don’t know which is going to be the tougher fight. But I’m ready to put it all on the line on fight night.
George, can you just talk a little bit about what this fight means to you?
Every fight is more vital than that last, more important than the last and there’s more to lose. Especially once you’ve lost.
I came back after losing last year and won the European title, I became the mandatory of the WBC. Since then we’ve been rolling and waiting for our opportunity to fight for the WBC belt. We knew it would come so we’ve been patient with it.
Lots of stuff comes with becoming world champion. Stuff to be excited about, but I’m not really thinking about any of that. After this fight then I’ll enjoy it, but for right now this is just a fight.
It’s a fight against the guy who we’ve studied, who I’ve seen fight live, who I’ve studied on tape, we studied his mannerisms, we studied his history, his past, who he’s worked with, who he hasn’t. He’s usually set up in the gym, his trainer.
We concluded that, yes he’s a good fighter. Yes, you need to be on form to beat him, but we haven’t left any stone unturned. We are 100% prepared and confident. Better times ahead. To me, it’s just a fight. Yes, he’s a good fighter, but a guy who isn’t as good as me.
Because of that, the pressure is always there. But nowhere near as much as I’ve faced in the past. I’m fine under pressure to a certain degree. But this time it’s nice. I’m away from home. I’m on the B-side of the cottage as usual. Maybe not quite the underdog as I have been before in the past.
But people will consider it a 50-50 match up. We’re going to go in there and show people that they couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re in a great place and we’re just ready to perform.
Steal the show and arrive on the world scene. So all the pressures and all the excitement and everything else that goes with fighting for the world championship, I don’t feel any of it because to me, it’s just a fight.
George, are you not thinking about winning the belt?
We have plenty of motivation up here in the mountains. We’re working hard. It’s been a lifelong dream to become World Champion. We’re just concentrating on Badou Jack.
He’s the guy we’re fighting and I’ve been in plenty of fights before. Usually we always do well. This is a fight against a good guy, but a guy who is not as good as me. For that reason, we’re just looking forward to getting there and performing. And winning and everything that goes with it.
Without trying to give too much away about the game plan, we know Jack’s strengths. We know his weaknesses. We plan to go in there, nullify his strengths and expose the weaknesses. That’s as much detail as I’m willing to give away right now seeing as how he’s on the phone listening.
But we’re in phenomenal shape, you know. First we came up here, I was in good shape. I was struggling to breathe because of the altitude. But now, we are flying. We’re getting better results than we do back in London when we’re out in flat land and there’s more oxygen.
So we’re in fantastic shape physically. Admittedly I’m always there. We’re going to go bring the fight to Badou Jack. Make sure he works for every second of every round. From there on in, the game plan will develop.
Badou, does it bother you at all that George keeps on talking about this like it’s just another fight?
No. Absolutely not. For me it’s just another fight. I’m not a trash talker. I don’t get into all that trying to get into your mind and stuff.
I’m staying focused on winning the fight. I might seem like a quiet guy or something like that, but come fight night, come in the ring, it’s going to be a different story.
George, is there any danger in some way that you might overlook Badou Jack?
Well, I hope not. I’ve been away from my family for the last eight weeks. I’ve sacrificed an awful lot to prepare myself in the best way possible. I haven’t taken this fight lightly at all.
As I say, we’ve studied Badou Jack. We’ve given him the respect to study him, to focus on him, to find out his history and to find out as much as we can about him to prepare ourselves to the best of our abilities. We feel we’ve done that.
We say it’s just a fight because ultimately, the sooner you come to a fight night that’s how it feels. That’s how it feels most times. But this time especially, I’m in here with a guy who’s now the world champion. A place he fights and defends. So he needs to learn how to be a world champion.
That doesn’t just come with territory. You need experience in that frame as well. So he’s in a new situation. He’s in a great situation before the first bell goes because he’s fighting in the undercard of his mentor, his hero, his idol, whoever so it might be to him.
He’s going to feel comfortable. He’s fighting in Vegas. He knows Vegas. But ultimately, when that first bell goes and you’re in there and it’s just me and him, then you’re going to have to consider, is he ready? Is he capable? Is he absolutely ready for what I’m bringing?
He seems like a lovely guy. He says all the right things. He’s not doing a lot of trash talking. He says he changes once he gets through those ropes. Well, we’ll have to find out because he’s going to have to be on his A-game, certainly to compete with me on fight night.
I do feel I’m the best opponent he’s ever faced. I’ve already taken what he experienced from his last fight with Anthony Dirrell, where Dirrell talked trash and a lot of hype before the fight.
But it’s totally different. This is someone who hasn’t. I’ve climbed to the top of the mountain; I just haven’t found my belt yet. So this time I’m not coming back down without it. So we are fully prepared. So I’m very excited. And we’re ready to perform.
George, did you say it’s eight weeks you’ve been training in Big Bear? And if so, what was the thinking behind that?
We’ve been here since the middle of July. I wasn’t comfortable coming over to the west coast on fight week so that I might be a little bit jet lagged. I didn’t want to come out two weeks before and then be jetlagged for the most important part of camp.
So, why not come out for the whole camp? Or the best part of it? So we’ve been out here seven, eight weeks come fight night. I’m just set up here in Big Bear.
Abel Sanchez kindly allowed us to use his gym. So we’ve got everything we need here. And that’s usually the concerning thing in a camp away from home, is the stuff you’re going to miss out on.
But we were out here last year. It was a good wrecking as my conditioning coach would say. We searched the place out. We knew exactly what we needed and we got it figured out and trained in altitude.
First time I’ve done a whole camp in altitude. We are getting a home field advantage. So I’ll definitely have that proof on fight night, but still in fantastic, fantastic shape.
That was the main reason behind coming out so early. To avoid all these conference calls and interviews you don’t need. I’ve held out for six weeks. I thought I’d make myself useful. We have a couple weeks to go and get on the phone, talk about the fight a little bit.
Is this preparation is completely different from the Froch fights in the amount of attention and demands on you?
Well, the first fight was history in the U.K. 80,000 fans. You know the story. But it takes a few eyes to sell the show. I was the only one selling the show, so it was my job to make sure there’s interesting news happening on a daily basis, weekly basis. People want to talk to you about it.
It’s not just for a list, or for the media or TV. It’s the average guy on the street. I’ve been recognized once since I’ve been in Big Bear, which is fantastic for me. I usually can’t make it out the door without someone wanting to talk to me about something.
So it’s nice to finish a session. Go and get your head down, relax, rest, do nothing. And again, I’m going to do your next session. This is a luxury I can’t afford in London now.
So for this fight, it’s a big fight. It’s a fight where we want to be prepared to the best of our ability and we felt, it doesn’t matter about the expense, it doesn’t matter about the commitment, about the being homesick, about anything like that.
Me and the rest of the team are fully committed to the task at hand. We came out in plenty of time to spare, literally. In the meantime I’ve been avoiding anything that doesn’t need to be done.
Can you give us a rough idea how much of it would cost raining away from home?
Well, I have a trainer. We have a full team flying out to the states. We’re staying in accommodation with really good training. I haven’t quite done the math yet, to be honest.
Hopefully the purse maybe it will be enough to cover the camp. I’m sure it will. They’re generous guys.
Do you think you’ll ever get such a good chance to become a world champion as this one?
Every fight’s a winnable fight for me. I won’t need any luck. I would have let myself down if I had. Badou Jack’s a good fighter, I’d say a very good fighter. He’s boxing at home, or is back at home in Las Vegas on the undercard on his promotion. The odds that are up for debate.
But it’s going to come down to who is the better fighter of the night. That’s who I am. No fight’s easy. Every fight comes with something different to deal with or a new pressure or something else.
But we’ve left no stone unturned. I’m in great shape and I feel up to beating anyone in the world right now, so it doesn’t matter who it is. Unfortunately for Badou, it’s him. He’s in my way.
Do you think this is the fight when we’ll start to finally see how good you and your trainer can be as a combination?
This might be the fight where people actually pay real attention to the good work we’ve put in. Myself and Paddy have come under criticism since we’ve been working together and people feel they have a quick solution for that. But the first fight we had together was interrupted together for ten weeks.
I shook the champion of the world. I had the referee take it away from me. Second fight I lost all control in the fight. Gaining momentum, but hit in a shot that knocked me out before we knocked anyone out.
I hold my hands up well. I probably should have held my hands up then. Same place it’s going to get you if you’d won that fight.
I threw a thousand shots in my last fight and then I was criticized. I won every round. We saw what Rebrasse was like because he boxed recently against Callum Smith and gave Callum Smith, a world of trouble.
Then I fight Denis Douglin. I knocked him out. Had a bit of a slow start, but knocked him out. So it’s easy for people to criticize because we haven’t won the world title yet.
So we know we’ve done good work. We know we’ve improved. We know that in the gym we see what we need to see. So as long as I go out and perform as I intend to on fight night, I’m sure Patty and myself will get a little bit more respect.
But we don’t really fight for that anymore. People boo you on the way in and cheer you on the way out and then boo you again before your next fight. So, winning over the hearts, and minds, and everything else of the fight fans is a difficult task. You’re only as good as your last interview these days.
So I’m not too fussed about the general perception as long as we know we’re doing the right stuff in the gym, which we do. As long as we’re winning, which we are. We’re going to go out and perform and become a world champion.
It sounds like that’s a criticism that bothers you. Is that the case?
I wouldn’t say it bothers me. I like it to use it to my advantage, you know? Sometimes you can, you’re never going to be as fresh in a first round as you are in the last. You don’t ask a marathon runner once he finishes marathon if he feels better than he did before he started.
So you mentioned your training at Abel Sanchez’s Gym. Does that mean you’ve managed to train alongside Gennady Golovkin?
Yes. Gennady’s back in the gym now. The media saw him a week or two ago. He’s a lovely guy. We haven’t trained together. He’s actually in the gym finishing up; again we have the gym to ourselves which is a nice thing for Abel to do. But it’s nice to be in a gym full of winners and champions.
Badou, in England there’s a view that you’re actually quite an easy opponent for George Groves. What’s your reaction to that?
I like it. I like it. I was the underdog before and changed the role as well. We saw what happened in there? It’s less pressure. So I like it.
I just want to ask both fighters, being that this fight was originally scheduled for August 22, if the fight being pushed back three weeks worked to your advantage?
Actually it does help me to get more time to get prepared, to get stronger and in better shape. we’re ready to go. We were ready August 22 as well, but we’re definitely ready right now. So, no. It didn’t really affect me. It was just a better thing.
Well, it was an interesting month. I saw an interview with Badou saying he wanted to fight maybe a day or two after he won the belt. So we always had it in the back of our mind that we were fighting September 12 even when August 22 was announced, even when SHOWTIME were asking for quotes we knew it was going to be September 12.
But by the nature of the promotion, they run promotions and they can and they do announce fights pretty late on considering the amount of time that it usually takes to be able to fight.
So we were already set and ready to come out here. We actually planned more for September 12 than anything else. So it wasn’t a shock to us.
George, were you coming over here expecting to fight Anthony Dirrell next? And did anything about Badou’s performance surprise you?
Yes, well the honest thing to look at the situation it was, they wanted to squeeze in a voluntary for Anthony Dirrell before he boxed me. So I assumed it wasn’t supposed to be an easy fight for Dirrell.
I think Dirrell was very bad that night. I’ve seen him box. He was looking at the ring after the first few rounds. He was pretty clueless. He just wasn’t able to punch properly.
To Badou’s credit he took advantage of it when he must’ve felt like a big pressure fight winning it and won the belt. After five, six rounds I was thinking, Badou’s probably winning this. He’s probably going to get issues, which Badou wanted, when he was watching Dirrell.
I think he boxed well. He did what he needed to do. I don’t think he was a particularly good fighter that night. When it came up a decision, or a majority decision, watch it back. Everyone overruled, but those rounds that were up for debate.
I don’t think he’d done as great a job as he probably felt he did. We studied Badou. We know what he does well. I don’t want to go into too much detail. We know what his strengths are, we know what his weaknesses are. We can nullify his strengths and expose and take advantage of his weaknesses.
George, what do you remember specifically about your one time in Vegas when you fought Contreras in a really big fight years ago? Was it everything you thought it would be before you came?
It was a great thing. We used to do London vs. Las Vegas as amateurs so I’ve been boxing out here since I was 13 years old. I’m always dazzled by the bright lights and the way since I signed up there with the pros. It was a natural progression.
It was lovely. It was weird to me at the time boxing at, let’s say two in the afternoon, or three in the afternoon. Getting right down on the undercard. I love Vegas. I come out here a few times a year for business and pleasure so it’s going to be the same comfort. It’s a town I’m very familiar with. I know my way around. I know what’s good, I know what’s to be avoided.
So I feel pretty prepared that I’m not going somewhere that I don’t know anything about and have to deal with new experiences. It’s great to have that experience already to be somewhere that I’m very familiar with.
Badou, could you talk about adjustments that you have made to get to this stage where now you’re a world champion and now you’re fighting to defend the belt?
The fight that I lost it was more like bad luck. I got caught with a good shot, with a lucky punch, whatever you want to call it, in the first round when I was cold.
I threw a lazy jab and things happen. I wanted to work with my old trainer who is more defensive. I just believed in myself. I know that that was just some bad luck.
Things happen in boxing. You can never overlook your opponent and one shot can end the night. I box that well qnd believe in myself. I’m strong mentally. I don’t need to talk all that trash and stuff to build confidence. I don’t do that. So yes, everything’s good now.
Badou, what do you know of George Groves?
I’m a better looking more, handsome young man than he is (laughs). No, just kidding. I think I’m a better technical fighter. A better, smarter fighter. I already said I got more speed, I got more power, I got this and that.
But the name of the game is hit, and don’t get hit. And I definitely got better defense so it’s a 50-50 fight and I think that’s where you don’t know who’s going to win. That’s what makes it so exciting. So I think I’m the best fighter and I’m 110 percent confident that we’re going to win this fight.
George, tell us about coming back from the losses to Froch and getting this world title fights.
Well, the second fight I’m certainly not going to leave my skin exposed. I learned that. My trainer and I are very much more familiar with each other. Happy to get the best out of each other. I’m in a good place. Nothing’s really needing to change. This is where they talk about experience. You don’t really know what experience you have until you can apply it.
I killed, I came back. I boxed Carl Froch in front of 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium in my first fight back to the game. I’ve dealt with a height of boxing and what some people see as the low end of boxing. If you’d asked me am I going to sell out Wembley Arena as a kid, I’d be excited. But after selling out Wembley Stadium, it doesn’t have quite the same bone.
I’ve won plenty of times. I haven’t had to justify a loss with, I got caught cold, or it was a lucky punch. Whatever, I’ve tasted it, dealt with it head on. Addressed it. Corrected it. We hope rebuilt.
This is not a 50-50 fight. This is a one-sided fight. This is the fight where, I’m not trash talking. I don’t need to build forth confidence. I am confident. I know what I’m capable of. I’m confident in my abilities that they’re, because of that we look forward to fighting. I look forward to being in a fight.
Yes, sure. Badou Jack concentrates on defense. His defense is impenetrable because he’s been knocked out and he still gets cold a lot. Some of the best defensive fighters ever still get hit when they’re boxing. We’re really ready to roll. We can’t wait to get in there to get the job done.
I was just going to ask after your little mishap in June is that the last time you’ve trained with the Royal Marines?
Yes. There’s danger those Royal Marines. Everything’s made of metal and they want to hurt you.
I never knew they were so efficient. Who would’ve thought it? They rushed me off to me checked out. I passed with flying colors. But, yes, that event training courses was unfortunately cut short but it was good fun while it lasted.
Does this come close to topping Wemble just for the magnitude of being on Mayweather’s last fight?
Magnitude, no. Of course not. No disrespect to Floyd. No disrespect to Mayweather Promotions. Even Floyd would say that it’s not his biggest fight.
So, Badou’s a big fight. It’s a fight for me, fighting for the world title whether undercard or not, in Las Vegas is what people all around the world dream of.
It’s exciting for me. I’ve been spoiled. I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve been able to take part in a lot of boxing. We hope many more from the future. But, yes. From now on in I’m just going to play this one down. This is just a fight.