By Tim Royner: George Groves (27-3, 20 KOs) and Chris Eubank Jr. (26-1, 20 KOs) will be competing this Saturday night in the World Boxing Super Series [WBSS] tournament semifinals in front of a large crowd at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.
(Photo credit: World Boxing Super Series)
Groves, 29, says Eubank Jr. will be hurt when he connects for the first time with one of his big shots on Saturday. Once Eubank Jr. is hurt and reeling, Groves is going to step in and go for the kill in knocking him out. Groves doesn’t want to give Eubank Jr. a glimmer of hope that he can survive.
“I am not for one second taking him lightly,” said Groves. ”Junior definitely has a good engine but as soon as I hit him, I am going to hurt him and put him away.”
Eubank Jr. is trained by his dad Chris Eubank Sr., and it’s unclear how much instruction he’s getting during his training session. Eubank Jr. seems to very proud and not particularly coachable. Groves wonders why Eubank Jr. didn’t travel to the U.S to get good sparring help for this camp. He feels that he didn’t get the quality sparing partners that he needed to get the best preparation for their fight.
Eubank Jr. has fought only 3 times at super middleweight against Renold Quinlan, Avni ‘Mr. Robot’ Yildirim and Arthur Abraham. Eubank Jr. beat Yildirim by a 3rd round knockout in his quarterfinals fight on October 7 in the WBSS. That was a mismatch from the word go. Yildirim was so slow and beatable. It was a wonder that the WBC had him rated at all in their top 40, because he did not look like a top tier contender. Yildirim is an example of how the sanctioning bodies make mistakes in ranking mediocre fighters highly. We see it all the time though, but it’s bad when the sanctioning bodies rank weak fighters in the top 5 without them ever having proven themselves worthy of the high ranking.
It would be a big win for Eubank Jr. if he defeats Groves, but not necessarily a huge upset. There are a lot of fans in the boxing world that believe Eubank Jr. has the goods to win the WBSS tournament by defeating Groves and then the winner of the Callum Smith vs. Juergen Braehmer fight. A year ago, few believed it possible that Eubank Jr. would have a chance of beating Groves, but he’s made believers of fans with his wins over Avni Yildirim, Arthur Abraham and Renold Quinlan. Those were all fighters that Eubank Jr. defeated in his last 3 fights with 2 of the victories coming by knockout. The fight on Saturday is still a 50-50 affair that could go either way. It’s tough to assume that Eubank Jr. is going to be able to walk past Groves, because he’s not fought anyone with his power and size. The guys that Eubank Jr. has been beating have been small, slow and weak. He’s not fought anyone with the size and power that Groves has going for him.
“It is the biggest fight of my career. I have dreamed of being part of such a big fight since I started boxing,” said Eubank Jr. “Groves will not last 12 rounds. He should enjoy the last days with that WBA belt because on Saturday I’m going to take it and proceed to the final.”
Groves wants to hurt Eubank Jr. for all the talking he’s been doing since the fight was signed. Groves hasn’t been working as hard selling his fight with Eubank Jr. as he did in his rematch with Carl Froch in 2014 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Groves had a reason to want to work hard in that fight was so that he could increase the ticket sales and PPV buys. Groves ended up doing most of the work while Froch took it easy, resting and simmering about the trash talking that Saint George had done. Eubank Jr. is doing to same thing that Groves did in expending energy in trying to sell the fight, and it could cost him the fight. That’s what Groves is counting on.
“I think Junior might be looking beyond this fight, like I did,” Groves said about Eubank Jr. to ESPN.com. ”I definitely looked beyond the Froch rematch. Not because I thought winning was a foregone conclusion but I was confident that I could do the job.”
Groves fought the wrong fight in the rematch with Froch by not letting his hands go in the first 6 rounds, and then retreating to the ropes in the 8th. Groves made it easy for Froch to line him up for a big right hand, because when they were in the center of the ring, he wasn’t nearly as effective. It was a perfect example of Groves not having learned from studying Froch’s past fight against Lucian Bute in May 2012. In that fight, Bute retreated to the ropes in the 5th round and he let him bombard him with heavy shots until the referee had to step in and stop the contest. Bute doesn’t doing well in the center of the ring either, but at least when he was in the middle of the ring he was able to get out of the way of the bigger shots that were thrown his way. When Bute was against the ropes, he couldn’t do anything to try and get out of the way of the incoming power shots.
Groves and Eubank Jr. will be fighting this Saturday for the chance to advance forward to fight Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs) for Juergen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs) in the WBSS finals. Braehmer vs. Smith will fight in their semifinals match in the WBSS on February 24 at the Arena Nürnberger Versicherung, Nuremberg, Germany. A lot of boxing fans believe Smith will defeat the 39-year-old German Braehmer. We’ll have to see if that’s possible. The southpaw Braehmer is looking very good right now. Smith hasn’t fought anyone even halfway as good as Braehmer.
If Groves can land his power shots on this fight, he could take care of Eubank Jr. quickly. This fight could end quick if Eubank Jr. forgets about his defense and tries to unload on him like he did with Yildirim.
“Eubank is looking beyond this fight. He believes he is going to win because it is his destiny, his time. But it is not his time. No one owes him nothing. This is about who is better — and he is not,” Groves said.