Groves flips trainers at 11th hour

George Groves is changing cornermen two months before what he calls "the biggest fight of my life." Scott Heavey/Getty Images

In a surprise move, super middleweight contender George Groves has split from longtime trainer Adam Booth and replaced him with Paddy Fitzpatrick just weeks before Groves is to challenge titleholder Carl Froch in an all-British showdown.

The 25-year-old Groves (19-0, 15 KOs) is scheduled to challenge Froch (31-2, 22 KOs), 36, on Nov. 23 at the Phones 4U Arena in Manchester, England.

It's highly unusual for a fighter to change trainers so close to such a significant fight, Groves' first shot at a world title. But for reasons that weren't disclosed, Groves made the move -- even though Booth, still under contract, remains his manager.

"I am extremely happy to name Paddy Fitzpatrick as my new trainer going into what is the biggest fight of my life," Groves said in a statement on Monday. "Paddy and I have worked closely together in the past and already have a very good relationship, one built over many years. Not only has he worked my corner for important fights, we have also spent a lot of time together when abroad on training camps, where Paddy has overseen a number of significant sessions.

"Although this is a fresh change for me, I'm working with someone I know and respect, and someone who knows my game inside out. We both know how the other works, so it won't take long to hit the ground running."

Fitzpatrick used to serve as one of Booth's assistants, so he is familiar with Groves.

"His experience and knowledge of the game is world-class and he is, without doubt, the perfect trainer to help me prepare for my next fight," Groves said. "He has a great energy, both in the gym and on fight night, and I feel totally comfortable in his presence. I'm looking forward to working with Paddy on a full-time basis and I'm excited to start adding many more tools to my arsenal. By the time Nov. 23 arrives, I'll be better than ever. And more than capable of dethroning Carl Froch."

Fitzpatrick has previously worked with fighters such as Virgil Hill, Michael Grant, Justin Juuko and female stars Lucia Rijker and Laila Ali.