By Jim Dower: Jamie Cox (24-0, 13 KOs) might be little more than a handpicked fringe contender at super middleweight, but he feels he has what it takes to beat WBA 168 lb. champion George Groves (26-3, 19 KOs) this Saturday night on October 14 in their World Boxing Super Series tournament clash at the Wembley Arena in London, England.
Cox, 31, has left no stone upturned in his preparation for the bout. Cox says he’s studied Groves’ fights and he knows his tendencies and his traits that he uses his fights. Cox is completely ready for this fight. While it’s true that Groves is the bigger and stronger fighter of the two, Cox feels like he has more than enough to beat the three-time beaten Groves.
Cox isn’t worried about Groves being the bigger man inside the ring on fight night, considering that he feels he could be hurt by his struggles to make the 168 lb. weight limit for the fight. Groves is more of a light heavyweight than a super middleweight, and Cox sees that as his advantage. Groves won’t have the stamina to fight hard in the later rounds like Cox.
“I feel fully prepared, and I know what it takes to beat someone like George Groves, and we’re ready,” said Cox to Behind the Gloves. “If he wants to fight, if he wants to box, we’re prepared for whatever angle he wants to take. We’re ready for whatever happens in the ring. I’m ready for what he brings,” said Cox.
The 5’11” Cox has the same height and reach as Groves. The only thing he doesn’t possess is the power and the experience against high level opposition. Cox’s management has kept him on a leash during his 10-year pro career and not matched him up against the upper echelon fighters in the 168 lb. division. The same can be said for when Cox was fighting at 154 and 160. His management didn’t put him in with the talented guys that could help him improve his game. Cox could have been beaten obviously if he’d faced better opponents, but he would have had the chance to improve as a fighter.
The smarter fighters learn from being in with good opposition. It’s unfortunate that Cox is only now facing his first real threat in 29-year-old Groves. Up until now, the best fighter that Cox has faced is Obodai Sai in 2011. That was a brief instance during Cox’s career where he was put in with a live opponent, and he didn’t fare so well in that fight. Cox won a questionable 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 115-113, 114-112 and 114-113. When Cox was announced as the winner, the boxing crowd loudly booed the results of the fight. Cox looked very upset at being booed. It’s unclear whether Cox’s promoter backed him off from facing good opposition because of this fight or for other reasons. What’s clear is Cox wasn’t matched his tough ever since this fight.
“He’s a very good boxer. He’s a world champion, a good counter puncher, strong and he does things well,” said Cox about Groves. ”He has some good fundamentals and he’s a world champion. I know how to beat that caliber of a fighter. What I do well, you’ll see on Saturday. I’m ready. Sometimes in the past I haven’t performed as good. This fight has really motivated me, and I’m ready for the fight,” said Cox.
Cox is being guarded about what his game plan is for the Groves fight. When asked in repeated interviews about what he intends on doing to defeat Groves, Cox would only say with a gleam in his eyes, “You’ll find out on Saturday.” In looking at the 2 guys that beat Groves in the past, Carl Froch and Badou Jack, what seemed to work for those fighters was a commitment to pressuring George nonstop. Froch and Jack wore Groves down with heavy shots and constant pressure. It worked for both guys to defeat Groves. However, those guys were big punchers, and they were able to stay in the pocket and take Groves’ heavy artillery to beat him. Cox isn’t a big puncher, and it could be dangerous for him to stand in front of Groves for 12 rounds to try and win a decision. Cox could get lucky and score a knockout if he can get Groves tired enough. But at some point, Cox will need to go in the self-preservation mode so that he doesn’t get knocked out himself. Cox can’t stand and slug it out with Groves for too long if his shots aren’t having any effect on him, and if he’s taking too many big punches in return.
”We’ve upped it another level,” said Cox. ”We’re really switched on for this fight to boxing, and every aspect of the game. Maybe he’s over big for the weight, and it hurts him to make the weight. I’ll just make the weight a little bit better. We’re going to make 168,” said Cox.
Cox has got to hope that Groves will be slowed on Saturday from the weight that he’s forced to lose to make the 168 lb. weigh-in limit. Groves would obviously be stronger fighting at 175, but that division is loaded with huge punchers that would be a real threat to knocking him out. Groves would have a hard time winning a world title at light heavyweight, because he would have to go through guys this like this to win a belt: Adonis Stevenson, Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Sullivan Barrera, Sergey Kovalev and Dmitry Bivol. Could Groves beat some of those fighters? I’d say the answer is yes. But it’s not likely that Groves could beat all of them, and he would have to go through one or more of them to win a world title in that weight class. Beterbiev and Stevenson would be a real nightmare for Groves. They hit hard and they’re fighting at a high level. Groves is clearly going to stay at 168 no matter how difficult it is for him to make the weight. Being able to rehydrate into the cruiserweight level gives Groves an advantage over his opponents at light heavyweight. If guys like Beterbiev, Bivol, Kovalev and Gvozdyk drained themselves to fight at 168, they’d likely dominate the division due to their size and power. There’s currently nobody at super middleweight with the size and power of those fighters.
“We’re ready. You’ll find out,” said Cox to IFL TV, when asked what he plans on doing on Saturday night to get the win over Groves. “We have looked at his traits, how he boxes, how he’s boxed in the past, and his habits. If he changes anything up, I’ll have to adjust. The power is no problem. It’s just being switched on,” said Cox.
This is the southpaw Cox being secretive about what he plans on doing against Groves. Some fighters are comfortable telling the boxing media what they intend on doing in their fights. Middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin isn’t bashful about telling the boxing fans what he’s going to do with his opponents. There’s nothing to guess with Golovkin. Cox feels that he needs to guard his plans to keep anyone from knowing what he’ll be doing. Groves will figure it out quickly what Cox has in store for him on Saturday, and he’ll adapt. It’ll be up to Cox to show that he can come up a backup plan if his Plan-A isn’t working for him against Groves.
“I’m the guy to beat. I’m the guy with a world title,” said Groves to Behind the Gloves about him being the only true world champion in the World Boxing Super Series tournament. “I’m the one everyone is going to be gunning for. I don’t want to be a flash in the pan world champion. I want to have a long, successful reign. He’s a good fighter, he’s unbeaten. He hasn’t fought at my level. So, that makes him one of 2 things; he’s either not capable of it or he can and we don’t know. That we’ll find out. I don’t believe he’s at my level,” said Groves.
Groves is the No.1 seed in the World Boxing Super Series tournament, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to win the tournament. He’s going to need to get past Cox and then Eubank Jr. to get to the finals of the WBSS. Groves would then likely be meeting the likes of Callum Smith, Rob Brant or Juergen Braehmer. Those are not easy marks. All 3 of them can punch, and Groves’ chin is going to be tested in a major way.
”I’m a lot bigger than him. I hit harder, and I’m stronger than him,” said Groves. ”I’ve been in bigger fights. I have more experience than him. I’ve been in tougher tests. So, all those things are working against him. It’s up to him to go out and fight better than he’s ever fought before. Even when he’s fought at his level, he hasn’t dominated or looked strong. That’s a massive step up for him. We’ll see if he can cope. I don’t believe he will, but we’ll find out,” said Groves.
The lack of experience and size could be Cox’s downfall in this fight unless he can find the power needed to bang Groves out of there. Cox does seem to have some pop on his shots though, as he’s knocked out 4 out of his last 7 opponents in the 1st round. The only problem is those were really poor journeymen level fighters that weren’t anything close to Groves’ level.
Groves isn’t worried about having to face Chris Eubank Jr. in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament. Groves didn’t see Eubank Jr’s win over Avni Yildirim last weekend in the WBSS tournament quarterfinals match, but he saw his match before that against Arthur Abraham, and says he spotted holes in his game that he thinks he can take advantage of.
“I’ve always been confident with the Eubank fight,” said Groves. “I saw his fight against Arthur Abraham. I saw chinks in his armor. I doubt he’s improved too much since then.”
Groves is certain that Cox won’t be around to hear the final bell at the end of the 12th round on Saturday night. Groves isn’t making a prediction for when he’ll knockout on Cox. He says it depends on how Cox chooses to fight. If Cox comes at him looking to sit down on his shots, he’ll counter him with something big and knock him out quickly. If Cox fights defensively, then he plans on going after him, pressuring him and wearing him down with shots until he knocks him out.
”I don’t think Jamie Cox will hear the final bell,” said Groves. ”I don’t know what round, that maybe depending on Jamie. If he wants to commit on his shots, I will get rid of him. If not, I’ll hunt him down, and beat him down and knock him out. But don’t think he’s going to hear the final bell,” said Groves.
Groves will need to be careful that he doesn’t gas out on Saturday night against Cox like he did in his fights with Jack and Froch. Groves was exhausted in both of those fights, and he couldn’t close the show. Froch stopped Groves in both of their fights. Groves wasn’t tired in the second fight, but he definitely was in the first one. Groves might have worn down in fight number 2 against Froch if he were pressured hard. Froch boxed Groves instead of slugging with him. Froch suddenly changed tactics in round 8 and quickly knocked Groves out cold.