Interview with Jim McDonnell on James DeGale, George Groves, Nathan Cleverly and more
By Eoin Mundow, for Doghouse Boxing (May 11, 2011) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Eoin Mundow/Cleva Media)
James DeGale, Jim McDonnell
The grudge match between Olympic gold medallist and British super middleweight Champion James DeGale and Commonwealth champion George Groves is just over a week away. We spoke with Degale's trainer and former world title contender Jim McDonnell to get an insight into their training preparations and his frank assessment of their opponents credentials.

What have the training preparations been like for the big fight?

Training is going really well ticking all the right boxes, all on schedule. Sparred with Nathan Cleverly and did 38 rounds, we have been working on what I call his SAQ - speed, agility and quickness, a lot of interval stuff and we have a game plan in place, so basically everything is in place.

How did sparring with Nathan Cleverly go?

I spoke with famed trainer Emmanuel Steward in the past and he told me that if you can get better sparring in the gym than the fighter you are facing on the night, then you are ticking all the right boxes. Emmanuel Steward has trained 17 world champions and I think we have fulfilled that and I have ticked that off. Nathan Cleverly is much better than George Groves and James sparred with him very well, excellent.

Adam Booth once said that Manny Steward had dined out on Tommy Hearns for far too long, insinuating that he may not be the great trainer that everyone thinks he is. What do you think of Adam Booth’s credentials as a trainer?

With Adam Booth I’ve done my homework on him, he said at the last press conference that he used to box and he said he had 44 fights. I’ve had that checked by someone that is well in the know and they said that he had 2 contests. I said “Is that right?”

If he said he had 44 fights then he never turned up for the other 42. He had a habit of getting the fights and not turning up. Now that’s not a fault of Adam Booth, that's human nature.  I know guys who have done white-collar boxing, they've had their tickets at the venue, they've had their family turn up, their mates turn up and they haven’t turned up themselves. You know it takes so much courage and I’m not knocking Adam for it but the point I’m getting to is what I said at the press conference and I don’t take one word back;

"There are a lot of brave manager’s in boxing”

Deep inside George Groves don’t want this fight. You know he is a nice kid and game kid, but you put a lie detector on his head and said “George, do you really want to fight James Degale” it would bleep straight away.

Adam Booth and them have taken the fight because the money is good and ego. Ego gets in the way of common sense, they should shield him and let Degale go onto where he is going to be.  He is going to be a world champion this time next year and let Groves learn his trade. It’s not rocket science to see his defence is very leaky as he showed in the Anderson fight. The first half of the fight will be competitive and very tough, but as the fight unfolds and the cream of the crop is true, the cream always rises to the top, you will see especially in the second half of the fight that James will really dominate.

Register to view ISSUE 5 of SEEN Sport Magazine, due out next week and featuring exclusive photo shoot and interview with James Degale and Jim McDonnell.

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