George Groves vs. Chris Eubank Jr. on Feb.17 in Manchester, UK
By Scott Gilfoid: George Groves will reportedly be defending his WBA 168 pound title against Chris Eubank Jr. on February 17 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. This is a semifinal match for the two fighters in the World Boxing Super Series.
It’s anyone’s guess why the Groves-Eubank Jr. fight is taking place in Manchester. It would seem like a more logical move to stage the fight in Groves’ hometown of London. Groves wanted the fight to take place in London in a football stadium.
Groves is the No.1 seed in the WBSS, and he’s the guy that a lot of boxing fans are expecting to win the tournament. Eubank Jr. and Groves are well familiar with each other from having sparred in the past a number of times. Eubank Jr. has improved since then, but it’s difficult to know by how much.
Eubank Jr. hasn’t faced anyone good during his career aside from Billy Joe Saunders, and he lost to him 3 years ago in 2014. All you can say about Eubank Jr. is he looks impressive beating the guys that are being fed to him. He had a chance to fight Gennady Golovkin last year, but he didn’t take the fight. You can draw your own conclusions from that.
Groves last fought in Manchester in 4 years ago in losing a 9th round TKO defeat at the hands of IBF/WBA super middleweight champion Carl Froch. Groves dropped Froch hard in the 1st round after nailing him with a right to the head. Froch was badly hurt. The referee Howard John Foster didn’t stop it though. But later in the fight when Groves was slightly buzzed in the 9th, Foster stepped in and stopped the fight.
It was a bad stoppage, perhaps even worse than the recent strange stoppage in the Anthony Joshua vs. Carlos Takam fight. Foster grabbed Groves in a headlock in halting the fight. While Groves was defenseless, Froch nailed him a couple of times for good measure. There was a firestorm of criticism leveled at the referee for stopping the fight. Going back to Manchester seems like a bad idea if your Groves. This has to be some kind of mind games being played on him by the Eubanks to want to have the fight take place in Manchester. Groves fought well against Froch up until the 9th round. In fact, Groves was ahead on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage in leading by the scores 78-73, 76-75 and 76-75.
Eubank Jr. (26-1, 20 KOs) looked good in his quarterfinals match in the World Boxing Super Series in defeating little known fringe contender Avni Yildirim by a 3rd round knockout on October 7 in Stuttgart, Germany. Yildirim was very similar to Eubank Jr’s previous opponent Arthur Abraham, only less skilled and without his punch resistance.
Groves (27-3, 20 KOs) beat previously undefeated contender Jamie Cox (24-1, 13 KOs) by a 4th round knockout in his quarterfinals match in the WBSS on October 14 in London, UK. Groves ended the fight with a beautiful right to the midsection of Cox. It was the type of shot that would have stopped anybody in the division. If Groves can land a similar punch against Eubank Jr. on February 17th, his worries will be over.
Both Groves and Eubank Jr. looked good in their quarterfinals matches. They were both able to handpick their opponents for the quarterfinals match, which isn’t an ideal situation, because you get mismatches like we saw. In Showtime’s Super Series tournament that took place between 2009 and 2011, the fighters themselves couldn’t hand select their opponents. That was done for them.
In another fight in the WBSS, unbeaten Callum Smith will be facing Juerge Braehmer in the semifinals. There still isn’t a date or a venue for that fight.
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