George Groves believes the decision to take the World Boxing Super Series final to Saudi Arabia has piled even more pressure on challenger Callum Smith.
The British super-middleweight stars will meet for the Muhammad Ali Trophy trophy at the King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah, on September 28, following weeks of speculation.
Groves, who will defend his WBA ‘Super’ world title and try and add the Ring Magazine belt to his resume, admits he would have preferred to be boxing at home, but believes the occasion and the unusual surroundings will work against Smith.
Live JD Nxtgen Boxing
August 4, 2018, 7:30pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass
“Obviously everybody wanted to be boxing in the UK and I wouldn’t have minded going to Manchester, and London would’ve been nice, but they decided to go to Jeddah and that’s fine with me,” Groves exclusively told Sky Sports.
“I’m good on the road, it won’t be a problem for me. It’s nice to box in front of your own crowd but I’ve boxed in some real hostile environments.
“But this is a huge occasion for him [Smith], the biggest of occasions. He’s already under a lot of stress and a lot of pressure and the fact that it’s outside the UK adds to that pressure.
“There’s even less familiarities he’ll be looking for. Maybe he can draw from past experiences as an amateur but he doesn’t have the same level experience that I have as a professional, on the road, I believe that’s an advantage [for me].”
Smith, who agrees the venue is “not ideal” has made Liverpool’s Echo Arena his home in the past few years, yet was the last to box abroad, beating Nieky Holzken in the tournament semi-final, in Germany.
Groves has not travelled to fight since losing to Badou Jack in Las Vegas, almost three years ago, but with his shoulder injury “absolutely fine”, sparring has begun and he has no qualms heading over to the Middle East for the first time.
“I have some friends who have been out there for events and it’s not really a tourist destination, but luckily a good friend of mine is well connected out there, so our accommodation is sorted and we have our own gym sorted, so a few things that could be stressful have been irradiated.
Remember when Smith and Groves discussed fighting each other back in 2016?
“Of course no one knows if it will be busy or not or if there will be loads of British fans out there and we will wait to find out, but as long as I can get my team out there, everyone else can follow.
“We haven’t decided when we’re going out yet but everything is in place, The announcement gave us the full eight-week camp, which is what we usually have, and the shoulder is fine. Absolutely fine.”
“I think it’ll be an indoor arena out there as well, so I honestly don’t think there is anything for me to worry about. It’ll be air-conned and it will probably be cooler out there than it is here right now.”