By Scott Gilfoid: George Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) feels like he’s finished Chris Eubank Jr. as a major player in the sport after exposing his lack of boxing skills last Saturday night in defeating him by an easy 12 round decision in the World Super Series semifinals in Manchester.
It was such a one-sided fight that it reminded me of Joe Calzaghe’s win over Jeff Lacy in 2006. Eubank Jr. was exposed as badly as Lacy was in that fight. Groves now sees Eubank Jr. as going no further with his career, and he could very well be correct.
Eubank Jr. is going to find it difficult to come back from this loss. It was such a woeful performance by the 28-year-old Eubank Jr. that it leaves him with very few options. Eubank Jr. was like a scattergun after the fight, saying maybe he’ll move back down to middleweight or maybe go after James DeGale or Caleb Truax. All of those bad options for Eubank Jr.
Even DeGale not at his best would be trouble for Eubank Jr., because he’s capable of giving him a variety of different styles inside the ring.
“He dreams big, which is good on him, but tried to fill it out with fairy dust,” Groves said to skysports.com. “There is no substance to anything behind him. Maybe this is the best way to do it, because you’ll never really know his limitations, but he’s never going to go any further.”
What’s obvious from watching the fight last Saturday is Eubank Jr. needs a better trainer that can retool his game from the ground up. Eubank Jr. looked like an amateur against Groves. The punches that Eubank Jr. was throwing all night long were wild shots with little hope to land. We saw a lot of left hooks thrown from the outside by Eubank Jr. When they would land, it looked nice, but mostly he was missing badly and getting countered. When Eubank Jr. would connect with his left hooks, he didn’t continue throwing punches. It was one and done with him. Of course, Groves had a lot to do with that with the way he would expertly tie Eubank Jr. up in a clinch to keep him from throwing his shots on the inside the way he wanted to. Eubank Jr. should have worked his way to the inside the way his father/trainer Chris Eubank Sr. was telling him to do and then let his shots go. Eubank Jr. didn’t have the courage to fight like that. A large part of Eubank Jr’s reluctance to attack Groves was the right hands that were getting hit with on the way in. Groves was nailing Eubank Jr. with chopping right hands when he charge forward, and those shots would send him backwards in a retreat mode.
It should be interesting to see what happens with Eubank Jr’s career. Does he find success after moving back down to 160 or does his career evaporate quickly once he faces his first quality contender or champion in that weight class? You must remember that Eubank Jr. left the middleweight division suddenly after failing to take a fight with Gennady Golovkin in September 2016. Eubank Jr. was being given a title shot by Golovkin in what would have been a dream fight for a lot of boxers. Eubank Jr. didn’t take the fight. He moved up to super middleweight after that and fought little known fringe contender Renold Quinlan in February 2017. When Eubank Jr. was fighting at middleweight, he lost to Billy Joe Saunders in 2014. Eubank Jr. defeated Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan, Nick Blackwell and Dmitri Chudinov. Those were decent wins for Eubank Jr., and they put him in position to fight for a world title against GGG. Unfortunately, Eubank Jr. didn’t take the fight. Welterweight Kell Brook is the one that accepted the fight with Triple G.
The problem that Eubank Jr. has in moving back down to 160 is if he loses to the top contenders, he’ll have nowhere else to go. He can’t move back up to 168, because he’s too small for that weight class. If Eubank Jr. stays at 160, he’ll get beaten by the talents in the division like Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, Saunders and Daniel Jacobs. If Eubank Jr. is really desperate, he could drain down to 154 and try and mix it up with the likes of Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd. I think that’s a bad idea as well. Jermell and Hurd punch like middleweights. Those are big fighters for the 154 lb. weight class. Lara is a master boxer, who has a ton of boxing skills from his many years on the Cuban national team. 154 is a bad division potentially for Eubank Jr. Frankly, I don’t see anywhere Eubank Jr. can go where he can be a world champion. Groves’ win over Eubank Jr. leaves him in the same situation Jeff Lacy was in after his loss to Calzaghe. Lacy’s career was never the same after that defeat. Eubank Jr. might be in the same shape unless his power and skills are enough for him to beat the best fighters in the middleweight division. I don’t think they are.
It wasn’t all good for Groves last Saturday. He suffered a dislocated left shoulder in round 12 of the fight. Groves is still waiting to learn the extent of the injury. He won’t know for a while whether he’ll be able to take part in the June 2 finals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament. If Groves can take part in the finals, he’ll face the winner of this Saturday’s fight between Juerge Braehmer and Callum Smith.