Hearn: “Groves is not fighter he once was”

Image: Hearn: "Groves is not fighter he once was"

By Scott Gilfoid: WBA Super World super middleweight champion George Groves (26-3, 19 KOs) fights undefeated Jamie Cox (24-0, 13 KOs) tonight in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament quarterfinals fight at the SSE Wembley Arena in London, England.

Cox’s new promoter Eddie Hearn believes that Groves isn’t the same fighter he once was since his first knockout loss to Carl Froch on November 23, 2013. Hearn thought Groves was faster, more fearless and dangerous when he fought Froch in 2013. Groves was stopped in a controversial manner in the 9th round of that fight, when the referee Howard John Foster suddenly jumped in the middle of the two fighters and grabbed Groves in a headlock.

While Groves was being held, Froch took advantage of the situation by nailing him twice. In hindsight, Froch should have been disqualified for hitting Groves while he was being held. In the rematch, Froch knocked Groves out in the 9th round on May 31, 2014. There was nothing controversial about the results of that fight. Froch knocked Groves clean out with a right hand in the 8th.

Hearn thinks Groves has slipped in his fights since then despite him winning 7 out of his last 8 fights in the last 3 years. Groves’ only loss during that time was a close 12 round split decision to Badou Jack on September 12, 2015.

“It’s a great opportunity for Jamie Cox,”“It was a coup getting him in the tournament, but to get the pick of George Groves in the 1st round for a world title was a dream come true. You can’t underestimate the hunger that Cox has going into this fight. A lot of people talk about Jamie Cox in boxing. It’s not going to be a surprise him winning to a lot of people. It’ll be for the wider audience,” said Hearn.

It’s unclear what hoops Hearn had to jump through to get the 31-year-old Cox into the World Boxing Super Series tournament, as he certainly hasn’t done anything in his 10-year pro career that would rate him this opportunity. There are no big wins on Cox’s resume for him to be invited to the WBSS tournament. To be sure, it’s a great opportunity for Hearn to have 2 of his own fighters in the WBSS tournament ion Cox and Callum Smith, but the odds of either of them winning it are not good. Smith came into the tournament highly rated by a lot of boxing fans, but he looked terrible in winning his quarterfinals fight against Sweden’s Erik Skoglund.

”He’s very highly regarded,” said Hearn about Cox. ”Everyone talks about his power, about how hard he can punch. We’re going to see. Everybody I speak to says the kid can fight, he can punch so hard. He’s a great looking boy. I liked him. He’s never been given the opportunity. He has the perfect unblemished record with no defeats. He looks the part. It was a no brainer for Jamie to go into the tournament. It’s a life-changing opportunity for him. But to get this shot, it shocked us. He understands he’s the underdog. But again, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Jamie Cox wins,” said Hearn.

I disagree with Hearn when he says it wouldn’t be a surprise if Cox wins against Groves tonight. It WOULD be a surprise, a big surprise, as almost no one is picking Cox to win. It’s not because the southpaw Cox doesn’t have good boxing skills, because he does. Cox has a good amateur background, but that was many years ago and he failed to use the momentum of his amateur career to make his mark in the pro ranks.

Hearn says Cox was never given the opportunities to show what he could do in the pros. I don’t know if that’s entirely true. Cox was put in with Obodai Sai in September 2011, and he clearly lost that fight, but was given a controversial 12 round unanimous decision. That fight showed that Cox wasn’t ready to fight the better fighters in boxing. Sai was little more than a good 2nd tier guy. He wasn’t even a 1st tier fighter, and yet he worked Cox over in that fight. It’s not surprising to me that Cox’s promoter didn’t push him into any big fights after that performance, as it was clear that he wasn’t ready to fight any of the good fighters. If I was Cox’s promoter, I would have done the same.

It would have been irresponsible to throw Cox into a fight with a good contender after the way he struggled against Sai. Hearn either doesn’t know Cox’s past history as already being exposed or he’s signed him for just a quick fight or two before he casts him adrift after he fails to produce. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hearn dumps Cox after he loses tonight against Groves, That’s my prediction. I don’t see Hearn keeping Cox around after he gets well beaten by Groves tonight.

“I admire him for coming back,” said Hearn about Groves coming back from his 2 losses to Carl Froch. “I admire the way he’s won a world title. I admire George Groves. He’s not the fighter he was. He’s still one of the top fighters in the division. He’s not the fighter he was against Carl Froch in the first fight. He was a very, very dangerous fighter, very spiteful and very fearless. Now he may be cuter, but he’s not as good. I think he’s a very dangerous fighter. He can still punch, and he still has good size, great jab, but he’s beatable. He can be hurt, and he’s not a puncher since he got knocked out by Carl Froch. Jamie Cox hits very, very hard, and George Groves can be hurt,” said Hearn.

I don’t see much difference in Groves from the fighter he was in his 2 fights with Froch. Groves uses his jab more, and he doesn’t go all out like he did in his first fight with Froch. I think Groves is capable of fighting the same way he did in the first fight with Froch, but he’s smarter now. He doesn’t empty his gas tank now like he did back when he fought Froch in 2013. Hearn mistakes Groves being more technical now to him not being the same fighter he once was. At 29, Groves is not old. He’s still young, so it’s difficult to know where Hearn is coming from by saying he’s not the same fighter he was in the past. My guess is Hearn is saying that so he can try and throw Groves off his game by causing some self-doubt to creep into his mind.

“The big question is can he perform at this level,” said Hearn about Cox. “He’s never performed at this level before. He’s never been at this level before, but if he’s as good as people talk about who know the game and know about boxing, then he can win. He’s got to perform under the pressure,” said Hearn in talking about Cox.

Hearn could have tested Cox out before this fight by putting him in with some good super middleweight contenders like Patrick Nielsen, Anthony Dirrell or Callum Smith. Hearn could have made any one of those fights for Cox to test whether he has the goods to be worthwhile keeping in his Matchroom Sport stable. I just get the feeling that Hearn signed Cox for quick cash out fight before he dumps him at some point in the near future. I’m hoping I’m wrong, but that’s the way I see it. I don’t think Hearn has any intention of keeping Cox around for any length of time.

“I like being the number 1 seed in the tournament. That’s what I feel I should be,” said Groves to secondsout.com. “They gave me the perfect draw, and I got to select first out of the opponents and I know I made the right choice. People are looking at me as the guy to beat. I have enough experience now. I’ve been in enough situations. I know what to do and how to deal with that sort of pressure. I’m not going to look past Jamie Cox. We’re highly motivated for the fight. I won’t want anyone else to win the tournament. I want to win it. This is a first defense in my own hometown against a hand-picked opponent. I know I’m going to win and go through. I think I’m the truest super middleweight in there. I make the weight comfortably. I’m very big for the weight. I’m not drained. I’m strong. I have a lot of experience fighting at a high level at super middleweight. In that regard, it’s in my favor,” said Groves.

The way I see tonight’s fight going down is Groves coming out quickly in round 1, bouncing big right hands off the head of Cox. If Groves stuns Cox with one of his big shots, he’ll quickly obliterate him right away. I think Cox will make it to the 2nd round at least before Groves gets to him and knocks him out with a big right to the head. I don’t see Cox being able to make it to round 3. I hope the suddenness of the ending doesn’t upset Hearn, because he seems to really believe Cox has a chance in this fight.

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