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My career is on right track - Groves
George Groves insists he is not taking a backward step by taking on Paul Smith, with the British and Commonwealth super-middleweight champion conscious of not rushing into a world title fight.
Many expected Groves to earn a shot at a world title after battling past bitter rival James DeGale in May, but the unbeaten Londoner - who has not fought since that narrow points decision at the O2 Arena - has failed to progress to the next level as had been anticipated.
DeGale stopped Smith in the ninth round of their domestic clash to become British champion last December and some have questioned Groves' decision to step into the ring with an opponent who lost to the person he most recently conquered.
"Boxing's a funny business and sometimes different fights come along at different times," Groves told West London Sport. "This fight against Smith, at this time in my career, is exactly what I need.
"It's going to be an exciting fight against an experienced fighter and in many respects still a learning fight for me, because there's things I need to improve. I made comments when I wanted to challenge him [Smith] for the British title, but that's boxing. Sometimes when you're not getting what you want in this game you have to shout a bit and throw a bit of a tantrum.
"It didn't work then, but it did ruffle his feathers which is good for me because I know he'll really be up for the fight and I want to be tested as much as possible. He's a very good fighter and he hasn't performed as well as he's capable of in his last few fights. You can't judge a fighter by their worst performance. You have to look at what they did well and I know Smith's a good fighter who'll come to fight and will want to produce a good performance."
While Groves' career has seemingly plateaued, DeGale's has clawed himself back into the spotlight after he bounced back from defeat to Groves by claiming the European strap against Poland's Piotr Wilczewski.
"Let him go around thinking he's world class if that makes him happy," Groves said. "If I wanted that, then I could have pushed for that, but I wasn't interested in being linked to world titles. I didn't fool myself into thinking I was world class just because I'd beaten James DeGale.
"Yeah, our fight got massive publicity, was a sell-out at the O2, and in that sense it was like a world title fight. But it wasn't - and afterwards it was about getting back in the gym and improving.
"He [DeGale] fought for the European title coming off the back of a loss, which was great for him, but I'm 99% sure that fight was made before he fought me. He was so sure he'd win against me. That's why I wasn't making a song and dance, trying to link myself to world title fights. That's where I'll be in the future, but I know I've got work to do."
Should Groves get past Smith at Wembley Arena on November 5, the Hammersmith-born fighter is well aware a rematch with DeGale will be in the offing, especially now that he has joined his arch enemy in signing up with promoter Frank Warren.
"My career doesn't revolve around James DeGale," Groves said. "I've beaten him twice. I've done what I need to. My career is about going on to be a world champion and the best fighter I can be.
"I don't want to just be known as the guy who keeps beating James DeGale. There's a lot more to me and I'll show people that."