British boxer George Groves looks set to be handed another world title opportunity next year. According to both him and promoters Kalle and Nisse Sauerland, the 28-year-old will meet Fedor Chudinov for the vacant WBA super-middleweight belt.
"CONFIRMED. I fight Chudinov for the WBA Boxing super super-middleweight championship of the world!" Groves tweeted on Wednesday (7 December).
The Sauerland brothers also revealed that a 5 January deadline has been set for mandatory negotiations. Chudinov controversially lost out on the WBA super belt in a rematch against Felix Sturm in February, although the latter eventually vacated the title due to an elbow injury.
Sturm, who lost to Chudinov in a battle for the WBA's regular strap in May 2015, tested positive for hydroxy-stanozolol after the fight. German prosecutors then opened an investigation, although the former two-weight world champion denied any wrongdoing. A test of his secondary b-sample also came back positive in November.
This will be the fourth time that Groves has attempted to become a world title-holder. In 2013, the former amateur, British, Commonwealth and European champion challenged domestic rival Carl Froch for his WBA and IBF super-middleweight gold, only to be denied by a massively contentious ninth-round stoppage. A high-profile rematch was held in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley six months later, with the challenger rendered unconscious in the eighth round by a devastating right hand.
Groves bounced back from that double disappointment to beat both Christopher Rebrasse and Denis Douglin. That earned him a shot at the WBC gold in September 2015, but he ended up losing to Badou Jack via a split decision in Las Vegas.
His latest comeback began with a straightforward fifth-round stoppage of Andrea Di Luisa and continued with an easy fourth-round knockout of David Brophy. "Saint George" claimed the WBA international super-middleweight title with that latter victory and subsequently defended it in both a WBA super-middleweight eliminator against Martin Murray and also in a tough points defeat of Eduard Gutknecht at Wembley Arena on 19 November.
He has since launched a crowdfunding campaign and auctioned his shorts in order to raise money for Gutknecht, who, it was reported by ESPN over the weekend, remained in a coma after collapsing in the dressing room after the fight and undergoing emergency surgery to relieve swelling on his brain. Gutknecht has now been transferred from London to a hospital in his native Germany.