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Groves and DeGale the focus at Maree's Gisburn gym
ARGUABLY the highest profile fighter at Kevin Maree’s Stirk House gym in Gisburn, Kenny Anderson is busy making sure he will be ready if the offer of a December fight with George Groves or James DeGale comes his way.
For Anderson, it is a case of unfinished business, a chance he believes he is due. Out running on the Pendle hills on a regular basis, even in deep snow when the harshest winter weather arrives, he is determined to become world champion one day.
It was announced this week that Groves and DeGale, who faced each other in May, will box on the same night in London on December 9.
Their search for two opponents has led to a host of suggestions within boxing circles. The name of Anderson crops up more than most.
It was the 28-year-old who gave Groves the fright of his life at Manchester’s MEN Arena, a year ago tomorrow on the undercard of David Haye versus Audley Harrison.
Anderson knocked Groves down for the only time in his professional career but the exertions of losing more than a stone in just eight days, after taking the fight at short notice, saw him run out of steam before being stopped in the sixth round.
Among fans there is the appetite for a rematch and, for Anderson and trainer Maree, there is the belief they can finish the job given more favourable circumstances.
Maree made it clear on Twitter this week that Anderson – now being promoted by Matchroom and Eddie Hearn, son of Barry – is available to fight either British and Commonwealth champion Groves, or European belt holder DeGale, next month.
“I wouldn’t mind if people were talking about what I did do to George Groves, not what I could have done if I’d had the proper preparation,” said Anderson, who hails from Edinburgh but has long since spent five days a week training at Stirk House after mentor Barry McGuigan recommended that he link up with Maree.
“I want people to talk about the damage Kenny did to George Groves when he knocked him out in the rematch. I’ve thought a lot about the fight. The thing I was upset about was how early the ref stopped it.
“If they were going to stop it, they should have stopped it when he was crawling about on the floor like an ant, not when I was on my feet. I did enough to justify a rematch.”
Maree, 33, has brought a stunning array of world famous boxers to the UK in recent years – Roberto Duran was the latest to visit Stirk House last month, following Roy Jones.
“I had people phoning up asking is it the actual Roberto Duran?” he said. “And Roy Jones, in Gisburn, I can’t understand why this isn’t a mecca of boxing in Lancashire.”
But the honour of hosting Mike Tyson’s visit to Scotland last year also became a complication when Anderson got the Groves fight.
Anderson – a gold medallist for Scotland at the 2006 Commonwealth Games – was in Sheffield sparring with Carl Froch, meaning he was heavier than normal at the time.
“It was horrible, we had to piece together our most important week of a fight,” said Maree.
“We had Mike Tyson over and we couldn’t just drop that, and we’d made a commitment for Kenny to go and spar with Carl Froch so we were all over the place. When Kenny was fit, he smashed George Groves to smithereens. The only time the fight turned was when Kenny blew out.
“George Groves and James DeGale both say they want to fight before Christmas and there’s no other legitimate contender in this country at the moment. We’ve said we’re ready but our phone hasn’t rung.
“Knowing the game as I do, I expect they’ll have booked in some guy from Latvia who fails to show up and then we get a call at 10 days’ notice asking us to turn up.
“We’ve done that once but we don’t need to take last minute fights now.
“We’re happy to do it in December but if they want to wait until next year when they have to fight him anyway, because he should be the mandatory by then, we’ll keep busy and get our chance.”
Anderson, who has had three knock-out wins since that Groves clash, is glowing in his praise of the set-up at Stirk House and is not the only boxer under Maree’s guidance.
In an adapted squash court that is part of Maree’s all-encompassing fitness centre attached to the Stirk House hotel – attracting young and old – recent Prizefighter contestant Jeff Thomas, Chris Betteridge and Paul Morris also hone their skills.
The flamboyant Moroccan Yassine El Maachi, who recently beat former world champion Junior Witter to win the Prizefighter welterweight tournament, is also a regular visitor to train with Maree.
On the wall, there are quotes from Oscar De La Hoya designed to inspire, together with pictures of Maree’s former fighter, the now retired Michael Gomez, knocking down Amir Khan in 2008.
Maree will hold his latest boxing show at Colne’s Municipal Hall on December 16. Thomas will be on the bill and could be joined Anderson if the Scot’s other options do not come to fruition. Tickets are available from Maree on 07899 953543.
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