By Michael Benson
George Groves’ journey to world championship glory was a famously difficult one.
From the moment he turned professional as a fresh faced 20-year-old in late 2008, Groves’ goal was to capture one of boxing’s famous title belts.
The Brit spent the opening five years of his career rising up through the ranks and earned his first shot in 2013.
Groves became the IBF mandatory challenger for champion at the time, Carl Froch.
Both of their legendary fights will be remembered for years to come in British boxing with Froch ultimately emerging victorious twice.
When they first met, a controversial stoppage left Groves feeling robbed of glory, though a conclusive KO settled their feud in the rematch.
Asked how it felt waking up the next morning after those fights, Groves recalled to talkSPORT.com: “It was sickening both times.
“I like to think that the second one was worse than the first because at least everyone was on my side after I lost the first time.
“I lost, but everyone thought it was a terrible decision, the referee made a terrible mistake and that I’d been robbed.
“Second time it was conclusive, I’d been knocked out.
“In the pit of your stomach you’re thinking, ‘I’ve done all this good work, hard work, and it’s summarised by this one punch,’ which is devastating.
“They both were horrific.
“With hindsight now, trying to get over the first loss was actually harder than the second, or even the third, but that’s just how it is.
“You feel like you’re at absolute rock bottom, but in the boxing game you’ve got to show two things – unwavering self-belief and resilience.
“That was sort of where I was, ‘Just carry on, just keep going, keep going, keep going.’
“Not a great feeling, but that happens in boxing.”
Groves earned himself another crack at the crown in 2015, but was beaten once more – this time on points by Badou Jack.
Despite suffering this third successive world title fight loss, he refused to give up on his goal.
Groves rebuilt again under new trainer Shane McGuigan and put himself in position for one last try in 2017, this time taking on Russia’s Fedor Chudinov.
Finally, at the fourth time of asking, he was victorious and crowned a fully deserving world champion.
Groves stopped Chudinov and claimed the WBA super-middleweight title.
Waking up the next morning was a very different feeling to the Froch fights.
“That was sensational, it was amazing,” Groves recalled.
“It’s weird, it’s relief, you know?
“You just wanna sit down and relax and absorb it.
“It’s funny because I watched the Lionesses win the Euros and footballers do this celebration when they win a major tournament that goes on for almost hours.
“If it was me personally, if I’d won it, I’d just want to sit down and have a little rest.
“But they don’t, they have a dance, they spray champagne at each other, they skid across the pitch, there’s confetti, then they’re holding the trophy, doing another dance.
“When I won my belt, I just wanted to sit in the changing room with my wife, with my team, have a cup of tea and just relax.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Let’s get the champagne out, let’s celebrate.’
“Maybe that’s just me at that stage, at the fourth attempt, being a miserable old man, but I was tired.
“But it was just an incredible feeling, my best moment in boxing…
“You’re on cloud nine, you can finally be proud.
“It’s weird, for who I am and what I set out to achieve and what I’ve been talking about, everything about me to everyone I know has been this – I wouldn’t settle for anything less.
“So finally to be proud and say, ‘Look what I did, I’m here now, I told you, I made it.’
“And not in an arrogance way, in a relief way. They’re happy for you and you’re happy for yourself. A wonderful moment.”
Groves is now happily retired having quit the sport four years ago at the relatively young age of 30 and has recently started his own podcast – The George Groves Boxing Club – in his spare time.
“I’ve been waiting for someone who knows how to put a podcast together to steer me in the right direction,” he explained.
“I loved the idea of making hopefully timeless episodes where we can get guests on who know an awful lot about boxing – their specialised subject – to tell us how and what they know, and maybe some stories behind it…
“We’d love big hitters every week, but we’re also gonna get sort of relative unknowns who have vast knowledge of boxing and will tell us some stuff that we might otherwise not really get to here about in the general public.
“Hopefully it will be a different feel and flow every week.
“It’s just hopefully gonna be a fun podcast for people who are boxing fans and the wider to listen to and enjoy.”