By Marcus Richardson
George Groves (27-3, 2Os) doesn’t agree with. Chris Eubank Jr.
(26-1, 20 KOs) and his team’s talk of him having a lot of ring wear on him from some of his hard battles in his 10-year pro career.
Groves, 29, feels that he has more than enough mileage left in his career to defeat the 28-year-old Eubank Jr. this Saturday night on February 17th in their semifinals match in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Groves will be defending his WBA Super World super middleweight title against Eubank Jr., who will be putting up his International Boxing Organization 168 lb. title. Groves is less interested in winning that strap than he is in beating Eubank Jr. and getting to the finals of the WBSS tournament to face the winner of the February 24th semifinals fight between Callum Smith and Juergen Braehmer.
“The Eubank team talk about miles on the clock,” Groves said to ESPN.com. “But I have a lot of experience and I don’t feel old like I’ve got miles on the clock and need to be scrapped any time soon.”
Groves has a significant advantage in the experience department over Eubank Jr. from his past fights against Carl Froch, Badou Jack, Martin Murray, James DeGale, Paul Smith, Glen Johnson, Denis Douglin, Fedor Chudinov, Jamie Cox and Eduard Gutknecht. The only names on Eubank Jr’s resume are Billy Joe Saunders, Arthur Abraham, Avni Yildirim, Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan and Renold Quinlan. Eubank Jr. lost to Saunders. Still, Eubank Jr. has enough experience to have a chance of beating Groves if he can overwhelm him with his work rate and speed. But the ring wear that Groves has won’t be a factor if he loses the fight.
Groves doesn’t look like he’s lost a step. Groves is probably a better fighter today than when he fought and lost to Froch in 2013 and 2014. Groves is smarter now, and he doesn’t empty his tank like he used to. Groves also doesn’t fight off the ropes like he used to, which is what caused him problems in his losses to Froch.
“I’ve got a lot more experience than Junior. I’m 29 and he’s 28, there’s not a lot of an age gap between us but I’ve been involved in the big time,” Groves said. “This fight won’t be any more difficult than fighting Jamie Cox.”
Groves stopped the previously unbeaten Jamie Cox (24-1, 13 KOs) in the 4th round in his quarterfinals fight in the WBSS on October 14th. Groves dropped Cox with a body shot in round 4, and he was unable to get back up to beat the count. Eubank Jr. saw the fight and remarked that if it had been him that was knocked down by a body shot, he would have gotten back up and continued fighting. Eubank Jr. says he would have moved or held to survive the round. Eubank Jr. has no doubts that he would have gotten back up and made it out of the round without getting stopped. We’ll find out on Saturday if Eubank Jr. can survive if he gets knocked down by a body shot from Groves. The last 2 opponents that have faced Groves – Fedor Chudinov and Cox – have been stopped by body shots. Chudinov is a fighter that is plenty tough, and he couldn’t get back up. Eubank Jr.
“He’s [Eubank] got two game plans. He could either bum-rush me or he’s going to showboat and skills rounds,” Groves said.
It’s obvious that Eubank Jr. is going to end up pressing Groves like he does all of his opponents to try and overwhelm him with punches. That’s how Eubank Jr. fights most of his opponents. Against Arthur Abraham in their fight last year in July 2017, Eubank Jr. jabbed a lot, and beat him rapid fire combinations. Eubank Jr. used a lot of showboating in that fight to get Abraham to lose his confidence. Abraham quickly got discouraged against Eubank Jr. and stopped trying to win. It was the same thing we saw from Abraham in his fight against Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez in April 2016. Abraham gave up against Ramirez and didn’t even try and throw punches after the first few rounds. Abraham hasn’t fought since his loss to Eubank Jr. on July 15. It looks like his career is over.
Eubank Jr. is coming into the Groves fight with a great deal of confidence from his 8-fight winning streak. Eubank Jr. hasn’t lost a match since his contest against Billy Joe Saunders in November 2014. It’s unclear whether Eubank Jr. has improved or not since that fight. Saunders out-boxed Eubank Jr. Since that loss, Eubank Jr. hasn’t faced anyone with the same boxing ability as Saunders, and he’s done well.
Whether Eubank Jr. can excel against Groves is the important question. Groves is a big step up in class from the fighters that Eubank Jr. has been beating in the last 3 years. If Eubank Jr. is going to beat Groves, he’ll need to keep out of the way of his big shots, because if he tries to throw his sustained combinations like he did in his last fight against Yildirim, he’ll get caught with something big. Yildirim landed some big punches during the middle of Eubank Jr’s flurries, but he was too slow to land more than an occasional punch. Yildirim was head-hunting the entire fight instead of targeting Eubank Jr’s body the way Groves will.
Groves will be the much heavier fighter of the two on Saturday night. This is only the 4th fight for Eubank Jr. at super middleweight since he moved up to the 168 lb. weight class in February 2017 for his fight against IBO champion Renold Quinlan. At 168, Eubank Jr. has fought Quinlan, Abraham and Yildirim. Those guys are not exactly the murderers’ row of the super middleweight division. For all intents and purposes, Groves will be Eubank Jr’s first real fight at super middleweight. That’s not a knock-on Abraham, Quinlan and Yildirim. Those are fine fighters, but they’re more like fringe level contenders in terms of talent at super middleweight. They’re not top-level fighters. So, we’re going to find out if Eubank Jr. has the size and ability to compete with Groves on Saturday night. If Eubank Jr. doesn’t have the size, he’s going to get overpowered and taken out quickly by Groves. They have weight classes for a reason. Eubank Jr. might be about to find out the hard way that he doesn’t belong at 168.