George Groves set for fourth world title challenge in 2017

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.