George Groves has targeted a fight with Callum Smith after building towards a fourth world title shot with a fifth-round stoppage of Andrea Di Luisa.
The talented super-middleweight, fighting for the first time under new trainer Shane McGuigan, rediscovered the sharpness, speed and reflexes that had eluded him during his past three fights when he disappointed in defeating Christopher Rebrasse and Denis Douglin before dropping a split decision to Badou Jack for the WBC title.
His performance on Saturday night suggested he remains capable of returning to the level he consistently showed before and during his two fights with Carl Froch. He considered retirement at just 27 following the disappointment of losing to Jack, but now he again has several promising options.
“(Promoter) Eddie (Hearn) has tried to slip Callum Smith through in a final eliminator (for the WBC title) and I don’t even know the guy he’s fighting,” Groves said.
“I’ll fight Callum Smith for the number one spot, that’s a fight that interests me. That’s one of many options but if they want to present it, I’ll have it. I like Callum Smith (as a fighter) but he wouldn’t be a problem at all.”
Groves admitted retirement had crossed his mind after the defeat to Jack.
“You’ve lost a world title and you’ve been away from home for seven weeks,” he said.
“You’re down, in Vegas, and I can’t tell you how many times I was asked how excited I was to be part of the Mayweather circus. It was a long, hard slog. I just thought ‘I’ve blown this now’.
“I worked for a long time to get that shot after selling out Wembley Stadium and I’m on the undercard of a boring Mayweather fight in the States.
“But you come back and realise you’ve got so much left to offer boxing. I knew I had to make changes with my training team. So far, working with Shane has been fantastic and retirement is now a long way from my mind.
“I’ve still got a chocolate Santa somewhere indoors, it’s for display purposes really, and my missus has hidden it, but I’ll sniff that out and celebrate (beating Di Luisa) by eating that.
“We actually put on a fantastic spread at Christmas. It was the first Christmas at our house and me and my missus even went on a cookery course to learn how to cook a proper Christmas dinner. But I only ate the turkey and a bit of veg because I was in camp.
“I’ll have a week off now but I will look in the diary to see what is available and what is coming up. Hopefully Sky are interested. They want to keep me busy.”
Promoter Kalle Sauerland said one option for Groves is to challenge WBO champion Arthur Abraham in the summer, and that he has complained to the WBC about Smith entering an eliminator.
“George will rip my balls off if I didn’t get him the (Abraham) fight if it was the only option,” he said.
“It would be a blockbuster. It’s a huge fight, a stadium fight in Germany or in England. But, it is one of many options.
“They’ve announced (Smith v Hadillah Mohoumadi) as a final eliminator but it’s something we are questioning. It’s something that we have launched a protest about in writing last week. It’s a long process. There will be a vote on it some time in the next weeks.”