When George Groves takes to the ring on Saturday night at the Excel Arena he will be looking to channel a year of frustration through his fights and onto the head and body of Glen Johnson. The veteran Jamaican has been stopped just once in his career but he will be facing a fighter determined to prove he belongs at the very top level.
Groves has been forced to deal with plenty of disappointment in the last 12 months as after he was ruled out of a British title defence against Kenny Anderson, before cruelly missing out on a shot at a world title when another injury meant a cancellation of his bout with Robert Steiglitz.
The Russian did have his WBO belt ripped away but it was Arthur Abraham that inflicted just a third loss on Steiglitz's record as Groves was forced to watch on and rue his missed opportunity. Fortunately the rising super middleweight had been handed the chance to box in America by Golden Boy Promotions and he refused to end the year on a sour note.
"My lowest point was when the world title shot was cancelled as I had been desperately trying not to think about everything that would happen if I became a world champion," Groves exclusively told IBTimesUK. "I had been training out in Cyprus where all we did was east, sleep and train. When I found out I had to come home and tell everyone it was extremely tough, but that's boxing."
An impressive sixth round stoppage of Francisco Sierra provided Groves with a positive memory for the year and he is now hoping to round it off in some style by overcoming the teak-tough Johnson. However, the 24-year-old is aware of the challenge that lies ahead as he prepares for a man whose only stoppage loss came against future hall of fame fighter Bernard Hopkins.
"I am ready," stated a confident sounding Groves. "I'm at that level now and it's a bonus that we got someone everyone knows. Not only is he a world class fighter, he is going to make me box at the level I need to be at.
"I've been working hard and now it is about making a statement but I know that I have to be disciplined. When you are boxing at elite level you know that any mistakes will be costly."
Johnson is exactly the kind of fighter who can exploit weaknesses. He has shared a ring with the best fighters in the super middleweight division - Carl Froch, Lucian Bute and Chad Dawson to name just a few - and famously stopped Roy Jones Jr back in 2004.
As Groves looks to propel himself into the upper echelons of an already heavily stacked division, he is well aware that he cannot solely rely on one aspect. His fellow Brit Amir Khan largely depends on his speed of hand and movement, but has been unable to address the issue of his defence which was brutally exposed by a left-hook from Danny Garcia. Groves vows not to do the same.
"If you're vulnerable in one aspect then the guys at world level will find it and expose it. For example, if you throw a low left hand jab and he hits you straight away with a right hand then you know you can't do that again," explains Groves who is meticulously prepared by Booth, the man that masterminded David Haye's upset win over Nikolay Valuev.
"You see fighters who only work on one style and it gets them to a point and they can't go any further. The great fighters never get found out as they are always changing and adapting. That is what I am trying to become."
The Saint has promised to demonstrate further improvements against Johnson, yet he warns that it may only be trainers and coaches that are able to understand the subtle changes. He is aware that a stoppage is unlikely but he hopes to win in such a manner that the current world champions will sit up and take notice.
"I can't really talk [about the future] at the minute as I am concentrating on Johnson but after Saturday I will be able to speak a lot more freely and they'll [the current world champions] will see how much I've improved," he added.
This statement was in slight reference to the fact Froch's promoter Eddie Hearn had played down Groves' chances of defeating the Nottingham fighter. The young pretender believes the comments were made to "quash rumours" about a potential bout between the two Brits and laughs off the suggestions that he "wouldn't last three rounds".
A stoppage win over Johnson would certainly catch the attention of Froch. But Groves is prepared for 12 rounds and knows that any victory over the 43-year-old would further enhance his reputation.
Should injuries be avoided then 2013 could be the year in which he finally recognises a lifelong dream by competing for a world title. With meticulous preparation and a hunger to always improve, you would not back against him walking away as a champion.