There really does seem to be some genuine bad blood in the air as we approach tonight’s big (very big in the UK; tonight’s fight having genuine crossover appeal, with people in the street talking about Groves and Eubank) super-middleweight showdown between George Groves and Chris Eubank Junior.
There is also, as a result of what Eubank Jnr has said about his willingness to die in the ring in the pursuit of victory, a sense of foreboding in the air. We have, quite sadly, witnessed tragedy and serious injury in the ring on occasion – for some odd, even chilling reason, an alarming number of these terrible injuries befalling 160 and 168 pound fighters (Gerald McClellan, Michael Watson, Rod Douglas) – and Eubank Jnr has said how he himself is willing to die to win.
As much as even the most bloodthirsty fan craves seeing violence, nobody wants to see another athlete seriously injured. Let us all hope that neither Eubank nor Groves has to push the physical boundaries too far in the pursuit of a win in Manchester tonight. But Eubank, insisting he is not being overly melodramatic, tells us he is willing to give everything in order to prove he is the better man in the ring.
“I don’t feel he’s in it,” Eubank Jnr said to The Independent when speaking of Groves, in reference to his rival’s desire to obtain victory tonight. “I don’t feel he’s there mentally and ready to put everything on the line like I am. When I get into that ring, it might sound cliché or a bit too dramatic, but I’m willing to die in that ring to win. He’s not. I’m willing to do anything I can to win that fight within the rules of boxing. I will not give up, I will not stop.”
Eubank, along with his father (who, on that tragic night in 1991, saw then arch-rival Michael Watson suffer permanent injury at his hand) has urged tonight’s referee to “do your job” and stop the fight if Groves is hurt and is taking too many punches. Again, let us hope it doesn’t get too brutal and damaging tonight. Some people cringe at the kind of talk Eubank has come out with, yet it is often too easily and/or quickly forgotten how boxers quite literally risk their lives in doing what they do.
Above all else, no matter who wins, let’s hope both fighters come out safe at the conclusion of tonight’s bout. Eubank and Groves both share this sentiment.