Fight Preview

TOPCLASS PREVIEW | GEORGE GROVES VS. CHRIS EUBANK JR

This week, British boxing fans are licking their lips with anticipation for the eagerly anticipated super middleweight, domestic dust-up between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr.

It is sadly not often in the sport of boxing that fans are witness to a fight that truly divides opinion with legitimate arguments being made why either fighter could walk away victorious. That is why when a fight such as this one comes along, fans struggle to contain their excitement and think of little else other than the fight itself.

The two men will square off at the Manchester Arena this weekend in the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series with Groves’ WBA world title and Eubanks’ less highly regarded IBO title on the line.

In reality, the belts up for grabs are secondary to the fight itself. This fight would have been just as hotly anticipated with or without the world title on the line as fans crave seeing the best face the best regardless as to who holds a title.

Aged 29 from Hammersmith, London holding a professional record of 27-3, George Groves is a huge name in British boxing having risen to prominence in his battles with fellow Brit Carl Froch in 2013/14. Groves came into the first fight with a good reputation but he was expected to come up short against a man in Carl Froch who was regarded as the best that Britain had to offer at the time.

Groves proved himself more than capable of competing at world level and actually dominated the fight before being controversially stopped. The rematch gained such a level of hype and interest that it filled out Wembley Stadium with 80,000 people coming to watch.

Groves was to suffer a vicious knockout defeat but came back to earn a shot at the WBC title against Badou Jack. Jack was to prove himself a much better fighter than many had given him credit to be and claimed a split decision win over Groves.

Groves decided to make changes and left trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick to team up with Shane McGuigan. Under McGuigan Groves seems back to his best claiming wins over the likes of Di Luisa, Murray and Gutknecht before winning the WBA world title against the tough Russian Fedor Chudinov.

Groves then entered the World Boxing Super Series and picked fellow Brit Jamie Cox as his opponent. The fight was entertaining whilst it lasted but Groves dispatched of Cox and now awaits Eubank Jr.

Aged 28 from Brighton, holding a professional record of 26-1, Chris Eubank Jr was born into the sport of boxing. He is, of course, the son of former world champion Chris Eubank and naturally has been under scrutiny his whole career as a result.

Eubank Jr was impressing fans with his in-ring dismantling of opponents early in his career but criticism came as he called out the big names but continued to face rather limited opposition.

In 2014 he made a huge step up in class to fight long-term rival Billy Joe Saunders for the British, Commonwealth and European middleweight titles. Eubank Jr started slowly being badly outboxed by the slick Saunders and it wasn’t until the second half of the fight when Saunders tired that Eubank began to show what he could do.

He had left it all too late and suffered defeat in his first big fight. Since then he has gone on to show real improvements claiming wins over the likes of Chudinov, Jeter, O’Sullivan, Blackwell and Doran.

He has since moved up to super middleweight claiming victories over Quinlan, Abraham and Yildrim seeing his reputation soar as a result.

Jr has proved himself to be a world level fighter with an incredible work rate that guarantees entertainment. Against Abraham, he completely dominated the former champion and made him look old and rather ponderous.

In the opening round of the World Boxing Super Series, he travelled to Stuttgart, Germany to face Avni Yildrim in a hostile atmosphere. Eubank sent out a chilling message to any future opponents with a brutal knockout victory.

The manner of the victory has seen many who previously doubted Eubank Jr change their minds and now there are many predicting victory over Groves.

In terms of comparing the two men, Groves is the more experienced fighter who has operated at the top level of the sport for much longer. He has been involved in other huge fights and will not be fazed by this event whatsoever.

He is a fighter who likes to control his opponent with his fast jab followed by hurtful, accurate right hands. He is a fighter who can adopt several different styles and is very capable of outboxing an opponent with his technical skill.

Eubank Jr in contrast is a relentless puncher. He comes forward with at times little to no respect for what an opponent has to offer and looks to throw countless combinations. His work rate is phenomenal.

There are two main trains of thought coming into the fight, firstly that Groves natural size, punch power and technical skill will allow him to outbox Eubank and claim a points win. The second is that Eubank’s non-stop pressure will question Groves’ fitness in the later rounds and possibly stop him or claim a points win due to work rate.

The fascinating aspect of this fight is that both arguments are legitimate, logical statements that could prove true. This is an extremely tough fight to predict and that is why everyone is so interested in seeing what unfolds on the night.

It is not often that I find myself struggling to pick a winner but as of right now I am in that position. It seems like every day my conclusion changes but when pushed to stick my neck on the line I edge in favour of George Groves.

Groves’ technical skill could prove the key difference. Eubank Jr is at times relatively easy to hit and Groves is an accurate puncher. Saunders has shown that Eubank Jr can be outboxed and it is conceivable that he could walk onto Groves’ punches whilst looking to come forward.

This fight has entertainment written all over it given the styles of the two men, the mind-games that both are likely to play in the last few days and the importance of the victory.

The winner goes on to claim a place in the World Boxing Super Series to fight for The Muhammad Ali Trophy and could face fellow Brit Callum Smith if he comes through his fight with Juergen Braehmer.

This is an exciting series that is pitting some of the worlds very best against each other and that is why fans are enjoying it so much. Groves versus Eubank Jr is a fantastic fight and I for one cannot wait to tune in this weekend.

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