This Saturday night, live from the Manchester Arena George Groves meets Chris Eubank Jr. in a highly-anticipated bout. Will athleticism and work rate do the trick for Eubank Jr.? Or will experience and skill secure a victory for Groves?
The World Boxing Super Series has provided a much needed boost to the early months of the boxing year. Usually it takes a while for the sport to build steam into the spring and summer months. Not the case thanks to back to back WBSS weekends featuring entertaining and competitive fights in Usyk/Briedis and Gassiev/Dorticos.
Even on a busy fight weekend schedule here in the states, this semifinals matchup is top priority to the avid followers. The beef between camps only adds fuel to the fire along with a perfect venue for this all-British scrap.
The first glimpse under the lights for George Groves came in another all-British rivalry between Groves and James Degale in 2011. Groves earned the victory and moved on up the ladder at super middleweight. George definitely grabbed the boxing world’s attention by dropping Carl Froch in the early portion of a fight he dominated for several rounds. Although Froch was able to stop Groves it didn’t come without controversy. Their rematch was fought in front of nearly 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. Groves would come up short once again but this time the ending was clear and decisive.
Groves build back his career, which lead to a great opportunity versus Badou Jack on a Floyd Mayweather undercard. Although competitive, Groves fell short and was forced to rebuild again. He managed to beat Martin Murray and Eduard Gutknecht putting him in line for a fourth title shot.
Groves made the most of the chance to challenge for Fedor Chudinov’s title. Chudinov has his moments, at times able to corner Groves on the ropes. This time Groves would respond by scoring a technical-knockout. The turnaround was short to decide if the World Boxing Super Series was the right fit. Now he stands a victory away from a June 2nd date at the O2 Arena in the finals.
Chris Eubank Jr. tested himself fairly early, in what is still an unproven career up until this point. Eubank Jr. failed to impress in an uneventful fight between him and Billy Joe Saunders. Chris came out flat and didn’t show much until the second half of the bout. It was a case of too little too late, and still remains Eubank’s only loss.
Although more active of late Chris’s opposition has been weak making for a bit of mystery as he steps up in class with Groves. Most everyone that tips Eubanks Jr. to win, points to his youth, athleticism, and punch rate.
The ones favoring Groves to walk away the victor claim skills on the outside will be the difference. This hack-of-a-scribe agrees with both sides but each fighter’s energy level must be brought to the forefront.
Groves is famous for being a front-runner, only to eventually cave in once his defense is exposed. Both Carl Froch and Badou Jack were able to wear him down with cleans shots especially to the body.
Eubank Jr. has improved his issues of being a slow starter but has show time and time again to need breaks throughout a fight. His main issue is putting every ounce of his body into ever single punch. The problem gets compounded because of his love of throwing combination punches.
Look for Groves to jump out of the gates getting a lead on the scorecards, using a solid jab and movement. Sooner or later Eubank will penetrate Groves guard by landing hard overhand shots. Eubank will work to the body and head, possibly jabbing to the stomach, something he has flashed of late.
After a few shaky middle rounds featuring Chris battering George on the ropes, Eubank will need a break. Groves will sense it, begin to counter punch and land the cleaner shots. This back and forth affair could take place within the actual round. Groves will win the early parts, while Eubank closes majority of the rounds stronger. That’s what will be the theme stuck in the judges mind, those last 30-seconds, ala Ray Leonard. Groves will land clean but Eubank Jr. will visibly hurt Groves on a few separate occasions.
A fighter getting to his second wind is common. Considering both men’s stamina issues, the guy who gets their third wind will likely come out on top.
My Official Prediction is Chris Eubank Jr. by Majority Decision.
Side Note: Both main event matchups on Saturday night for the Showtime and Fox cards aren’t that interesting on paper but could turn out to be entertaining once the bell rings. The best bouts will like come from the co-features, Showtime Benavidez vs. Gavril 2, and on Fox Plant vs. Medina.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available on Apple Podcast (ITunes), Player.FM, Stitcher, Tunein, Spreaker, www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Net. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio