Cooper’s Corner: Groves vs Eubank Jr Preview

Image courtesy of World Boxing Super Series

Just a week away

If you’ve been with from the very beginning, hopefully you would have read one or two of my articles along the way. In several I have made one thing abundantly clear. The Super Middleweight Division to British fighters is as synonymous as I and my countrymen are to tea and crumpets.

At the beginning of the month we were treated to two fantastic bouts in the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. But we’ve no time to pause because we move swiftly onto the semi-final stage of the Super Middleweight series. For me this particular series of bouts holds particular intrigue as one of my fellow Englishmen will definitely appear in the final. This coming Saturday WBA ‘Super Champion George ‘Saint’ Groves puts it all on the line against the challenger that is Chris ‘The Next Generation’ Eubank Jr.

A place in the final, the Muhammad Ali trophy and the opportunity to unify with the WBC diamond belt await the winner. When the eventual participants of this particular bout were made clear I will admit that I let my heart cloud my judgement. I have always been a George Groves fan. However, as a journalist I have to be objective. Through my objectivity I am now firmly on the fence, and whilst I will retain a preference of the winner, I’d be firmly on the fence if you ask me to pick the victor.

Both men stopped their perspective opponents in their quarter final bouts. Although it has to be said that Eubank Jr was far more of a convincing winner.

From the champions perspective, he has been here before. He’s had the big nights and the big fights and although he has come away as the loser on three of those occasions, the experience of ‘been there done that’ stacks highly in his favour. Groves is by far the bigger man, and I have long thought that he could make light heavyweight. For me the better jab, ring craft and experience all strongly favour the champion. I firmly expect Groves to box on the outside, using straight shots to pile up his own points lead. I feel that Eubanks is by far and large the better fighter on the inside and with Groves stamina issues well founded the urge to stand and trade may not be there, at least not to begin with.

Everybody in the boxing world seems to know Eubank Jr’s strategy, surely ‘ obvious. Surely he will use his superior work rate and combination punching to outwork Groves. Eubanks body work and particularly his uppercut is a thing of beauty. My sense is he will try and take Groves down the stretch, knowing that his engine has far less miles on the clock will certainly be a huge weapon in the bank. From what I read from my peers in the industry the common opinion is that Eubank Jr will stop Groves late.

However, being the boxing purist that I am I would always state that a fighter with a strong ring IQ should normally prevail. George Groves is an out and out boxer, although of late he has shown himself to be a very good counter puncher. Eubank Jr has a very distinct style, he is an entertainer. But with this this style comes a distinct flaw. Eubank Jr’s over commitment to this style leaves him with a tendency to leave his chin hanging in the air. Something Groves himself has picked up on. Both Nick Blackwell and Spike O’Sullivan were able to wobble him at 160, if he does this on Saturday night we will certainly learn whether Jr can really pass a chin check. The only real ‘boxer’ I have seen Eubank Jr face was Billy Joe Saunders and whilst Jr started slowly it was clear to see that at least at that early stage in his career he struggles with men who a more technically proficient.

Whilst I have sat here writing this I have subconsciously been trying to pick a winner. Sadly my opinion will not differ to most you will read anywhere else (not that you should be going anywhere else for your boxing news and views). The longer the fight goes on the more I favour the challenger. But as Ive pointed out, I fully expect Groves to test that chin. Should that chin fail then Groves is on his way to Saudi Arabia and the final.

I usually say may the best man win, but I really hope Groves does it!

By: Aaron Cooper