Let history decide

James DeGale’s trainer Jim McDonnell is convinced his fighter will prove he is better than arch rival George Groves – even if he loses to him again.

McDonnell also claims that Groves proved nothing by blasting away Paul Smith earlier this month and would have been knocked out by DeGale’s last opponent, Piotr Wilczewski.

DeGale lost the British super-middleweight title and his unbeaten record against fellow West Londoner Groves on a majority points decision in May.

McDonnell believes DeGale can establish himself as “a great fighter”

Groves, also the Commonwealth champion and still undefeated as a professional, then stopped Smith in the second round at Wembley Arena – three weeks after DeGale bounced back by taking the European title from tough Pole Wilczewski.

The Harlesden southpaw is desperate for a rematch with Groves, who also beat him as an amateur, but McDonnell is adamant that DeGale does not need to avenge his losses against the Hammersmith man.

“I don’t care if James never boxes Groves again. If James had got the verdict last time and in the amateurs, people wouldn’t be talking about it now,” McDonnell told West London Sport.

“Both of those fights were very disputed. If they fight again it wouldn’t prove anything – even if Groves were to get another disputed verdict.

“Would it prove he’s better? Not really, because when you look back at the end of their careers you’ll see the kudos of James and the kudos of George.

“They’re being compared to each other at this stage, but when the comparing really matters will be at the end of their careers.

“That’s when people will look back and say ‘Even though he [Groves] got the verdict that night, look at what James went on to do.’

“It was the same as an amateur. He [Groves] got the verdict then but look at what James went on to do. Who was a better amateur? You look back and James was an Olympic gold medallist. What has Groves won? It’ll be the same as a pro.

Groves is unbeaten in 14 pro fights

“Things happen in boxing. There was a guy called [Jan] Magdziarz who boxed Alan Minter. He never won a title. He beat Minter twice. Minter went on to become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world.

“If you asked 50 people who the better fighter was out of Minter and Magdziarz, all 50 of them would tell you Alan Minter.

“Good luck to George. Maybe he’ll go on and do wonderful things. But look at it five years down the line and ask who’s the better fighter, and people will say ‘Come on, it’s in black and white.’

“Groves is a good fighter. Whether he’ll be a great fighter – which James will be – I don’t know. But if you look a James’ strengths, he’s got them in abundance, it’s just a matter of James going about his own work.”

DeGale produced a scintillating display against Smith a year ago, taking the British title by stopping him in the ninth round of a one-sided contest, whereas Groves brutally stopped the Liverpudlian in the second round when they met recently at Wembley Arena.

It was Groves’ first outing since pipping DeGale, whose own return to the ring was a hard-earned points win against the seasoned Wilczewski, who was ranked two in the world by the WBO and wobbled the 2008 Olympic champion in the fifth round.

“We didn’t learn anything more about Groves. He got hurt with a right hand at the end of the first round and then pulled out a big shot to end the fight,” said McDonnell.

“The guy James beat for the European title – people don’t understand this – was a very good fighter.

“He was a European medallist and a World medallist in the amateurs. To win those medals you’ve got to be damn good and as a pro he’d won all but one of his fights and was ranked number two in the world.

“James went in there and took care of business. Has George had that kind of test? No. Will he come through it when he does? Time will tell.

“You’ve got to ask yourself whether Groves would have beaten the kid James boxed. Could Groves have boxed for that European title and won?

DeGale wants a world title shot next year

“You aint going to fight on the back foot, like he did against James, against the Pole and win. He’s got a vicious right hand, did better as an amateur than Groves, and is a world-class boxer.

“That would have been a massive, massive test for George Groves’ chin and his calibre, and I don’t think he’d have been good enough. I think he’d have got knocked out.

“James has got a great chin and came through that test against the Pole because of that. George’s chin isn’t the greatest [and] he isn’t going to win titles at world level fighting on the back foot.

“You’re not going to fight Carl Froch or any of the world champions, run for 12 rounds, and get the verdict.”

DeGale will fight in Liverpool on 9 December against Spaniard Jose Maria Guerrero, 34, in a defence of the WBO inter-continental title he also took from Wilczewski.

His European crown will not be on the line as he is pencilled in for a February defence of that belt against mandatory challenger – and former world champion – Cristian Sanavia, who is not yet ready to fight.

Groves was also due to appear on the bill but has been forced to withdraw because of a hand injury.

He is planning to return in the new year, when both fighters will be targeting world titles and the interest in a possible rematch between them is sure to remain strong.

The result last time out left DeGale seething and his camp still believe their man should have been awarded the decision.

McDonnell said: “George knows it was a hollow victory. If James had got the decision it would have been a hollow victory as well. It was too close. There was nothing to come out of the fight that suggested Groves is a better fighter.

“So far George has done well. He’s only a young kid and has won the British and Commonwealth titles. You’ve got to take your hat off to him and give him a lot of a credit.

“They’re both good fighters. But who’s going to go on and be the better fighter? You can’t judge that by who wins a silly majority decision.”