By: Ste Rowen
The third Super Middleweight World Boxing Super Series quarter final is set to take place at Wembley Arena on Saturday night in an all British match-up between WBA World Champion ‘Saint’ George Groves (26-3-0 19KOs) and the former Commonwealth Champion Jamie Cox (24-0-0 13 KOs). An accumulation of joy, relief and sadness hit George Groves when at the fourth time of asking he had become the newly crowned WBA titleholder. At Bramall Lane, England in May this year Fedor Chudinov gave his all, forcing ‘The Saint’ into rough waters and displaying an impressive chin but ultimately Groves’ relentlessness, world class jab and power showed as the referee stopped Chudinov on his feet in the sixth round of an all action bout.
Photo Credit: WBSS
It’s been a long winding road for the 29-year-old Londoner. He’s been part of, and victorious in one of the best British-prospect rivalries between himself and current IBF Super Middleweight Champion James Degale. He was one half of two fantastic all British world title fights, facing up against former WBA and IBF Super Middleweight Champion, Carl Froch.
Once in Manchester, then again at the fabled ‘80,000 people’ at Wembley Stadium. He lost both fights. Unfairly stopped in the first and indisputably beaten in the second as Froch knocked out Groves with the last punch of his career.
But Groves’ stature and popularity has grown ten-fold because of, and since then. He’s had his rough times. In the lead up to the first Froch fight he split with his only pro career coach, Adam Booth. After defeat in his third world title shot to Badou Jack in Vegas via split decision, Groves separated with trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick. Then in the midst of cementing the foundations of a fourth world title shot; tragedy. He fought and defeated Edward Gutkneckht in a one-sided fight that, in truth should’ve been stopped earlier than it was. Gutknecht suffered swelling on the brain and to this day remains unable to speak or walk. Life had to go on for Groves though and the WBA World Title needed a champion to hold it, and so it did when he beat Chudinov in Sheffield.
The Muhammad Ali Trophy awaits and Jamie Cox is the first barrier to it. Jamie Cox is the relative unknown heading into this bout. Despite a successful amateur career that included a commonwealth gold in 2006, Jamie Cox has never established himself in the pros. Up until 2013 he was fighting at the light middleweight limit, even calling out then British Champion Kell Brook in 2009. Personal problems have also blighted his career and been the cause of inactivity, including an almost two-year absence from the ring between June 2013 to February 2015. The southpaw fights to impress in the early rounds but a tendency to stay on the inside is a concern when he’s up against someone with as impressive a right hook as Groves has got. The standard of opponents up until now is also a concern for Cox. His stand out wins have come against Hungarian Ferenc Albert in a first round knockout, Commonwealth Champion at the time Obodai Sai and a tenround decision win over Martin Fidel Rios in a dirty affair which saw Cox have two points deducted and Rios three. The World Boxing Super Series has created a platform that, for better or worse has set up bouts that wouldn’t normally be looked on as standalone world title fights. George Groves said himself at the quarter final draw that he chose Cox as his opponent because he is the ‘easiest route’. There are stories though of Jamie Cox’s power in sparring and his natural stance and come forward mentality has led to him leading with the head causing his competitors problems, including cuts, that his opponents hadn’t planned for.
It’s a problem Groves will have to nullify before Cox can gain momentum in the early rounds. Whoever comes out victorious on Saturday night, Chris Eubank Jr awaits in the semifinal and the IBO Champion is riding high on a wave of momentum since his one punch knockout of Turkish, Avni Yildrim last weekend. It’s set up for an all British semifinal, meaning for certain that there will be a Brit in the final of the WBSS.