• Steve Bunce

Nothing sinister in Groves' move

Steve Bunce March 5, 2013
George Groves will be kept busy by his new promoter as he seeks to get a world title shot © Getty Images

Boxing is a fluid business. One fighter can be with one promoter and then be with another, then he's on his own, then he's off with another promoter and then another promoter. It's not unusual.

In some way it's healthy for the sport. It's healthy for the sport that these good fighters like George Groves can bounce between promoters.

George decided to pull out of his European title fight on March 16, and then withdrew from the March 16 bill, then switched from Frank Warren to start working with Eddie Hearn. He will fight on Eddie Hearn's show this Saturday at Wembley.

The only thing to say is if it's good for George, then that's right. It's got to be about the fighter, and if he hasn't broken any contractual agreements, which he hasn't, and if he can fight on that show without the threat of legal action, which he can, then if George thinks it's the right move then it is.

He's had a troubled year or so.

He had a title fight lined up against Robert Stieglitz for the WBO's super-middleweight title a year ago, then injured his nose training in Northern Cyprus and that fight fell through. Then Stieglitz lost his world title. George could have been the man taking the title; George could be the world champion now and about to make his second or third defence.

It's interesting that George Groves' manager, and former promoter, Adam Booth, has been reported as saying that the move to Matchroom is only temporary and that neither of them have ruled out working again with Frank Warren, who George has left to go to Matchroom. The deal is for three fights.

Listen to Buncey on this week's podcast

It happens all the time. It is the nature of the business. It's better that fighters who want to switch camps can move freely rather than being left out in the cold, not getting fights and basically having to live out the last year or two of a contract.

It's fantastic in many ways that George has done it - it shows transparency and that is overdue in all sports. However, it also sends a tricky message to the fighters turning pro.

The whole point about a young guy turning pro is that he needs a promoter. That's why the job description is "promoter"; the promoter's job is to promote a boxer from obscurity to relevance.

A fighter turns pro, even if he's an Olympic gold medallist, or if he's an unknown young amateur, and he needs to be promoted. He needs the guidance of experience.

So George has won the British title, was just about to fight for the European title and he is a world title contender. He's been promoted to get there and promotion costs money.

The promoter spends money to get his fighter some profile and to get his fighter the right fights and exposure. When he puts on a fight a press conference can put him back a few thousand and that is just the basic spread. The fighters that walk away from one promoter to another often forget the work that has gone in and just how much it has cost.

All promoters will, if they stay in the business long enough, lose a good fighter and gain a good fighter. The promoters at the centre of the latest defection Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren are right in what they have said in recent days: the game is fluid and does change. You get one today and lose one tomorrow, but it doesn't matter because the day after tomorrow you'll get another one!

I don't think people should read too much into it. It's our business, and in history guys have moved promoters and moved managers, and in the case of Amir Khan, moved trainers. It happens.

On this week's episode of Buncey's Boxing Podcast, Buncey and Barry chat to Steve Collins about his long struggle to get a fight with Roy Jones Jr. and fighting at 48. Another veteran, Matt Skelton, joins the pod to talk about his next heavyweight move and the days he fought K1 kickboxing in Japan. Irish light-heavyweight Kenny Egan talks about retiring at 31 and the temptation to come out of retirement.

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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.