George Groves considered retiring after dislocating his shoulder, but he now intends to use the “agony” suffered on his road to recovery to overcome Callum Smith.
The WBA super-middleweight champion, 30, makes the latest defence of his title in the final of the World Boxing Super Series and in the unusual location of Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City.
It was at the semi-final stage at which he outclassed Chris Eubank Jnr until dislocating his left shoulder in the final round, contributing to the postponement of the final until Friday and fears he would not fight again this year – if ever again.
Having reached his prime, premature retirement would have been cruel on a fighter who has already had to rebuild his career from significant setbacks, including losing by knockout to Carl Froch in front of an 80,000 crowd at Wembley and in a similarly crushing defeat by Badou Jack in Las Vegas.
Groves insists he is 100 per cent fit having had screws inserted into his shoulder to guard against what can be a recurring injury and then working to rediscover his mobility.
He said: “It’s been a dogged time rehabbing. The hardest thing I have had to do.
“It has been agony. Seeing the chiropractor, the osteopath, the surgeon – the rehab afterwards was not easy. Looking in the mirror and seeing your shoulder is one fifth of the size it was. I have not done all of this to go through the motions.
“Physically it was harder than defeats; emotionally they don’t compare. It was physically the hardest thing. I did walk a tightrope of thinking ‘Can I be bothered?’
“Then you snap out of it. ‘Don’t be so ignorant, you have a gift, why turn your back on the tournament?’.
“Then the next day you think ‘F*** the tournament, I am not getting beat just because I am injured’.
“I want to go out and finish the job. Since I was 12 and didn’t want to go training I have always worked hard not to waste my talent.
“When friends started smoking at 16 or drinking at 18 I made myself not follow. No lads holidays, and it is the same now at 30. ‘Don’t give up, don’t waste it’.”
The promising Smith, 28, has never previously fought for a world title, yet a rivalry that exists between his trainer Joe Gallagher and Shane McGuigan, who works with Groves, has attracted the champion’s attention.
“I could not look at Joe Gallagher and say I lost because of the shoulder,” he said. “I wouldn’t even want to listen to myself using that excuse so who else would?
“Joe never used to be nice about me and he lost to Shane over Scott Quigg-Carl Frampton. He has praised me and I believe he knows his fighter is up against it and he is not confident.
“If everyone sings my praises and he loses to me it does not hurt his business or stable. There will be a lot of pressure on Joe.”