By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night in Manchester, an all-British world title fight takes place when WBA super middleweight champion, George Groves 27-3 (20KOs), steps into the ring with IBO belt holder, Chris Eubank Jr 26-1 (20KOs) in the much-anticipated World Boxing Super Series semi-finals.
Both boxers made easy work of their quarterfinal opponents back in October.
At Wembley Arena, ‘Saint’ George Groves knocked out fellow Brit, Jamie Cox in the 4th round with a clinical body shot that kept Cox down for the count and served as Groves’ first defence of his WBA belt, which he won back in April after stopping Fedor Chudinov.
In the pre-fight documentary, still available on the WBSS YouTube channel, Groves said…
‘I don’t like to waste shots so anything I do throw, believe me you’re gonna get hit with it… There’s absolutely nothing there for me to worry about because there’s gaping, gaping holes in that style, in that approach.
He’s a blown-up middleweight who’s come into this tournament to try and build his profile… If he managed to beat me he’ll be the next coming but if he fails he’s gonna have the biggest fall from grace that we’ve had in this country for a long time.’
Away from home and in the heated atmosphere of Stuttgart, Eubank knocked out, walking punchbag Avni Yildrim in the 3rd round of his quarterfinal bout, with a devastating right hook that finished the Turk off, after already forcing his opponent into briefly taking a knee in the first round following an uppercut.
Speaking on his own and his opponent’s capabilities, Chris was in confident mood…
‘It’s more than possible to push through that pain barrier and get up, and I’m sure that he’ll try and use that against me and I’m sure I’ll be prepared for it… It won’t go the 12 rounds, somebody’s getting knocked out. This chin doesn’t have an off button, his does.
I don’t have any hate for the guy, he’s just a guy with a belt that I need to get passed to win the tournament. I keep my emotions out of boxing. It’s nothing personal, it’s just punishment.’
It’s a difficult fight to conclusively call. It could come down to how well Groves weathers the storm in the early rounds and whether his chin holds up as well as it did against Chudinov. Along with being able to slip and counter off the ropes, if Groves is able to fire off the selection of shots we’ve seen in his 6-fight win streak since losing to Badou Jack back in 2015, Eubank will need to do more to protect himself when those huge swinging hooks go amiss.
Eubank may not be pillow-fisted, but he’s lacking that one-punch KO power. Even in his previous bout, the IBO champion constantly landed cleanly throughout the 3 rounds. It’s difficult to envisage a scenario where a seasoned pro like George Groves, gives his semi-final foe so many opportunities to take him out.
The second semi-final takes place next week in Nuremberg as super middle & light heavyweight veteran, Jurgen Braehmer, 49-3 (35KOs) goes up against 23-0 (17KOs) Callum ‘Mundo’ Smith. The winners will progress to a final that’s expected to take place in early June at London’s O2 arena.
On the undercard, and as long as there’s no late injury to either of the main event fighters, WBSS super middleweight injury reserve, Zach Parker, 14-0 (10KOs) will take on 16-6-2 (10KOs), Adasat Rodriguez.
Two British title fights will also be on the undercard as Ryan Walsh takes on unbeaten, Isaac Lowe; and Tommy Langford is up against Jack Arnfield for the middleweight belt.
Both Walsh and Lowe have a mutual opponent on their records in Denis Ceylan who Lowe fought to a disputed draw, in March 2017; Walsh was beaten on a split decision to Ceylan five months earlier.
It’ll be the first time Tommy Langford, 19-1 (6KOs) defends his British title since 2016, after a 1-1 record in 2017. He was comprehensively knocked out by Avtandil Khurtsidze back in April and ended the year with a routine comeback points victory over 11-36-1 Miguel Aguilar. Jack Arnfield is currently on a six-fight win streak including wins over John Ryder, and former junior middleweight world title challenger, Brian Rose.