By Gregory Doyle
Saturday 17th February we will see one of the most eagerly anticipated matchups in British boxing history. “Saint” George Groves, WBA “Super” World Super-Middleweight champion will take on IBO Super-Middleweight champion Chris Eubank Jnr at the Manchester Arena in a mouth watering matchup.
Groves, 27-3 (20 early) will be aiming to make the second defence of the world title he won from Fedor Chudinov at Bramall Lane in May 2017 aswell as add Eubank’s IBO strap to his arsenal. Groves most well known for his two gripping contests with Carl Froch in which he lost both by stoppage has seemingly matured into a well rounded fighter the longer his career has progressed and has had to do things the hard way in his career to date. Despite being ahead on the cards and dropping Froch heavily in the first contest, Groves was stopped in the 9th round in what alot of fans felt was premature. Groves was visably in trouble in the 9th however we will never know if he could have seen the round out and how the rest of the fight would have panned out. The rivalry was settled 6 months later however as Froch knocked Groves out in devastating fashion in the 8th round in front of 80,000 people at Wembley (as Carl likes to remind us) to retain his world titles.
Groves bounced back with two unconvincing like performaces against Christopher Rebrasse and Denis Douglin, picking up the European title and the WBC’s “silver” strap along the way in the victory over Rebrasse. He then came unstuck again against Badou Jack for Jack’s WBC Super-Middleweight championship of the world in September of 2015 losing on points in what was a very evenly matched contest that could have went either way. Since that night in Vegas against Jack, Groves has went from strength to strength currently on a 4 fight winning streak with impressive performances against David Brophy and St Helens tough nut Martin Murray before finally cementing his place in the history books, finally winning the world title at the 4th attempt with an emotional and deserving stoppage victory against Fedor Chudinov for his WBA title.
In October of last year Groves defended the title for the first time stopping Jamie Cox inside 4 rounds as part of the World Boxing Super Series tournemant. The tournemant set up for 8 of the worlds most exciting Super-Middleweights to fight each other in a knockout format to determine the worlds very best 168lb fighter. Which brings us to Saturday’s fight with Chris Eubank Jnr in the semi finals of the tournemant.
Eubank Jnr, 26-1 (20 early) also a participant of the tournement knocked out Avni Yildirim inside 3 rounds in his quarter final bout to book his spot against Groves. In a hostile Stuttgart atmosphere Eubank walked into what some would call “the lions den” as thousands of Yildirims Turkish fans were baying for blood with signs like “Welcome to Hell” visable in the crowd.
Eubank Jnr however well known for his steel nerves made easy work of Yildirim and set up this mouth watering clash with Groves. Saturdays contest will be a fascinating matchup as it has split so many people including the bookmakers who are rarely wrong. Eubank Jnr who stepped up to Super-Middleweight in February last year following the collapse of a proposed bout with number 1 middleweight in the World Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, took the IBO world title from Australian Renold Quinlan in 10 one sided rounds before stepping up in class against former 2 weight world champion “King” Arthur Abraham. It was at this point Eubank Jnr then entered the Super Series.
Overall Eubank has had a slow but progressive career with the dissapointing loss in 2014 to current WBO Middleweight champion Billie Joe Saunders now firmly behind him. A contest in which Eubank lost via split decision in a strange showing as he done very little for 5/6 rounds and then came alive to give Saunders huge problems in the last half of the fight. That aside Eubank has an unblemished career which has also seen the likes of Spike O’Sullivan and Dmitrii Chudinov fall to him via stoppage and many expect him to progress to further heights in the sport. The bout with Groves will see the victor progress to the finals where Callum Smith or Juergen Braehmer will be waiting
Like most I’m really on the fence in this fight. I can see arguments for both guys. You have Groves power, weight, height and reach advantage. With Eubank you have superior speed, ferocity, combination punching and pedigree.
Im ever so slightly leaning towards Eubank purely because I think there is much more to come from him and I believe we have seen the best of George Groves. To Groves credit I will be very eager to see how Eubank reacts if and when Groves catches him with his straight right hand.
Martin Murray has said Groves hits harder than GGG which has to be respected. However I just feel as this moment in time Eubank is fresher and will make it a very uncomfortable pace for Groves. For me Groves wil be ahead in the bout but I feel Eubank will catch up with him late and force the stoppage. Either way no result will surprise me and I just can’t wait until Saturday night as like so many others to see this battle of supremacy.