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Eubank Jr. says he’s ready to “unleash the beast” on Groves

Chris Eubank Jr George Groves

By Marcus Richardson: IBO super middleweight champion Chris Eubank Jr. (26-1, 20 KOs) is ready to beat WBA Super World 168 lb. champion Saint George Groves (27-3, 20 KOs) next Saturday night on February 17 in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) semifinals tournament at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.

The slightly younger 28-year-old Eubank Jr. understands that he’s probably going to be the smaller guy on the night when he gets inside the ring with Groves, who he expects to be at least 15 pounds heavier or more than him. Bu Eubank Jr. says the 29-year-old Groves size won’t be a factor in the fight, because he’s felt the power that he possesses when the two of them sparred earlier in their careers.

Groves was younger and just as big back then and Eubank Jr. had no problems taking his best power punches back then and getting the better of him with speed and volume punching. Now that the two are competing in the WBSS series in front of thousands of boxing fans years later, Eubank Jr. sees nothing different. He’s going to school Groves when he gets him inside the ring like he did with his 3rd round knockout of Avni Yildirim in his quarterfinals match in the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament fight last year on October 7 in Stuttgart, Germany.

“I’m feeling strong,” Eubank Jr. said to Fighthype. “I can’t wait to get in there and unleash the beast. There’s other ways to make it in the sport of boxing without having to sign away your rights, which is what happens with a lot of these fighters. Having an undefeated record isn’t as important as people think it is. I don’t think I would ever get the George Groves fight if I didn’t enter this tournament. I just think they would have dodged me for years,” Eubank Jr. said.

Groves probably would have agreed to fight Eubank Jr. even without the WBSS tournament. After all, there aren’t a lot of big names for Groves to fight at 168. There are good fighters, but they don’t possess large fan bases and bring in the boxing fans like Eubank Jr. does. Groves is fortunate that he’s getting the opportunity to fight Eubank Jr., because it’s been pretty dull for him in last 2 years with him beating these fighters:

• Jamie Cox

• Fedor Chudinov

• Eduard Gutknecht

• Martin Murray

• David Brophy

• Andrea Di Luisa

Fighting those guys has eaten up 2 years of Groves’ career, done very little in terms of attracting huge crowds and making him a bigger name in boxing. Groves needs fighters like Eubank Jr., Callum Smith and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin to become a bigger star. Middleweight champion Golovkin could move up to 168 in the near future if he beats Canelo 1 to 2 more times, and then unifies the 160 lb. division by beating WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders in the second half of 2018. Golovkin fighting the winner of the WBSS super middleweight tournament is a possibility if everything goes as planned for GGG, but that likely won’t happen until Golovkin faces Canelo for a third time.

”I’m not a natural super middleweight. I do have to gain weight, but I’m doing it responsibly,” Eubank Jr. said. ”I’m doing it well. I’m eating right and feeling strong. I don’t see it as a disadvantage. Yes, he will be the bigger man on the night,” Eubank Jr. said about Groves. “He will probably weigh a stone or more heavier than me, but I don’t think that’ll be a factor that will play into the fight too much. I’ve been in with him when he’s been heavy, especially early on in his career. I know what he’s capable of. I know how hard he hits. I’m not worried, George,” Eubank Jr. said.

Groves’ power and weight could be an advantage for him if he can land enough of his power shots to the body and head of Eubank Jr. Groves has been sitting down on his punches a lot more lately in knocking out his last 2 foes in Jamie Cox and Fedor Chudinov. Groves stopped them both with body shots. Groves has discovered that he’s a very good body puncher. If he Groves had used body shots in his fights with Badou Jack and Carl Froch, he might be unbeaten today, as he was exclusively head-hunting against Froch and Jack, and those guys were able to take his best shots and give it back.

In hindsight, Groves was never going to beat a fighter like Froch by throwing only to the head. Froch was able to take huge head shots without getting hurt. Had Groves targeted Froch’s body, he might have found out that he was human after all. Jack used body shots to wear Groves down and beat him by a 12 round split decision in their fight on September 12, 2015. That was a long time ago for Groves. He’s a different fighter now and has learned from his last 6 fights. The outcome might be different if Groves and Jack mixed it up now.

Groves is seen as having more mileage on him than Eubank Jr. The 2 are close to the same age, but Groves has been in the tougher fights during his 10-year pro career compared to Eubank Jr. with his 7-year career. You can’t say that Eubank Jr. has been protected from facing the best fighters. It seems that he’s been brought along slowly by his father Chris Eubank, and not pushed to face the best. Example of that is when Eubank Jr. had a chance to battle Golovkin 2 years ago in September 2016, he and his father acted slowly in the negotiations and lost the fight. Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn gave the Golovkin fight to Kell Brook. Eubank Jr’s best opponents of his career have been against Billy Joe Saunders, who beat him by a 12 round split decision in November 2014, Dmitry Chudinov, Gary O’Sullivan, Nick Blackwell, Arthur Abraham, Avni Yildirim and Renold Quinlan. Those are not the best fighters in the 168 lb. weight classes. The 37-year-old Abraham had already been beaten easily by Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez by a 12 round unanimous decision in April 2016. Abraham wasn’t the same fighter he once was when he battled Eubank Jr. and was completely outclassed by him 2 years ago.

The best fighters that Groves has fought during his career are these guys:

• Carl Froch (twice)

• Badou Jack

• Martin Murray

• Fedor Chudinov

• Denis Douglin

• Christopher Rebrasse

• Eduard Guthnecht

• Noe Gonzalez Alcoba

• Glen Johnson

• James DeGale

• Paul Smith

• Kenny Anderson

Most of those fights were mismatches with Groves using them for punching bags. However, Groves lost to Froch twice and Jack. Groves was staggered by the heavy-handed Kenny Anderson in their fight in November 2010. That was not an easy fight for Groves even though he stopped Anderson in the 6th round. Groves barely beat DeGale by a 12 round majority decision in May 2011. DeGale came on strong in the second half of that contest, and he took advantage of Groves wearing down due to fatigue. Groves was hurt by Paul Smith in the last moments of round 1 in their fight in November 2011. Groves came back in the 2nd round to knock Smith down twice to get a stopped. Smith had injured his right hand in the 1st round, and he was a sitting duck in round 2 for Groves’ big shots.

Groves has the power to beat Eubank Jr., but he might not be able to handle his work rate and speed. Eubank Jr. can throw a lot of blinding shots that could overwhelm Groves if he’s unable to keep him off by landing enough of his big punches. In a nutshell, the fight comes down to whether Groves can keep Eubank Jr. off him by landing enough hard punches to make him slow his work rate down to a crawl. If Eubank Jr. is cautious about letting his blinding punches go, then the fight will boil down to both fighters landing the same amount of punches. In that fight kind of a fight, Groves will have an advantage because he hits much harder and he’s the bigger guy. Without a knockdown, Eubank Jr. can’t beat Groves if the two are landing the same amount of punches in the contest. Eubank Jr. has only one chance of winning this fight and that’s by dazzling Groves with his speed and hitting him many more times than he’s able to hit him back. Groves wins this fight if he can land his body shots score a knockout or if he can get Eubank Jr. to slow down his work rate.

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