Groves: I’m levels above Eubank Jr.
By Sean McDaniel: George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr. met on Wednesday for their final press conference to discuss their fight this Saturday night in the World Boxing Super Series [WBSS] at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.
(Photo credit: World Boxing Super Series)
IBO super middleweight champion Eubank Jr. (26-1, 20 KOs) and WBA Super World super middleweight champion Groves (27-3, 20 KOs). This is a fight where it’s difficult to decide on a winner. Groves, 29, has been steamrollering everyone in his path in his last 6 fights since his close 12 round split decision defeat to Badou Jack in September 2015, and he just looks very hard to beat right now.
The mistakes that Groves made in the Jack fight, he’s fixed and he’s an all-around better fighter than the guy that lost that fight and was twice between by Carl Froch. It’s fair to say that if Froch and Jack tangled with Groves now, they would have a much different fight on their hands.
”I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in through my career. I’m fully prepared to go out there and retain my world title in style,” Groves said. ”It’s not an expression that I particularly like but it comes down to levels and I’m levels above Junior.”
Groves is levels above Eubank Jr. in the experience department. Eubank Jr. is a good fighter, but he’s been brought along slowly, and he’s badly crippled his own efforts by failing to take advantage of the opportunities that have been offered to him for fights against the likes of Gennady Golovkin. When you get fights like that offered to you like Eubank Jr. did in 2016, you’ve got to grab it with both hands.
Eubank Jr. could have taken the Golovkin fight and he didn’t, and he failed to take a rematch offered to him against Billy Joe Saunders. When Eubank Jr. was with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport, he chose to take softer opposition like Nick Blackwell, Tom Doran, Tony Jeter, and Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan. Even last year, Eubank Jr. chose to fight little known IBO super middleweight champion Renold Quinlan after he moved up to the 168 lb. weight class rather than taking on Groves, James DeGale or Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez. Those are the talented fighters in the super middleweight division, and Eubank Jr. chose to steer in the direction of a weaker champion that few in the boxing world had ever heard of.
Up to this point in Eubank Jr’s career, he has been an underachiever to the extreme. Whether that’s a case of Eubank Jr. getting bad advice from those around him or simply him not having the confidence to take the best fights that are available to him is unclear. What is clear is Eubank Jr. is 28-years-old and he has a lot less to show in his career compared to Groves. That doesn’t mean that Eubank Jr. can’t win on Saturday night against Groves, but it does suggest that he might not be ready for this high level of a fighter due to him failing to take the right pre-requite fights to prepare him to fight at this level.
“I’m the number one seed and I will go on to win this tournament and win it well. I started last year and will continue this week. I’m ready and hopefully, he is too,” Groves said.
If Groves gets past Eubank Jr. on Saturday night in Manchester, then he’s got a great chance of winning the World Boxing Super Series tournament. The other semifinals fight between Callum Smith and Juergen Braehmer doesn’t figure to present a winner that will be a problem for Groves. You can argue that the WBSS finals fight is really this Saturday between Groves and Eubank Jr. The winner of this fight is going to be a clear favorite to defeat the Smith vs. Braehmer winner. If Eubank Jr. wins, he’s going to have the youth, speed and athletic ability to blast past the Smith-Braehmer winner without too many problems.
Braehmer might be the tougher opponent for Eubank Jr. because of his size, southpaw stance, jab and his mobility. Braehmer presents a different type of opponent than the guys that Eubank Jr. has been facing during his career. Volume punchers like Eubank Jr. do well when they have opposition that stand in place and make it easy for them to overwhelm them with punches. A mover like Braehmer is a nightmarish opponent for a guy that thrives on being able to use volume punching to win like Eubank Jr. does.
Callum Smith will be a much easier fight for Eubank Jr. considering that he’s slow and tends to try and bang his opponents out with big shots. Smith has the same fighting style as Avni Yildirim, but with a tad bit more hand speed. Smith is slow, hittable and he doesn’t throw a lot of punches. He’s perfect for Eubank Jr. to beat with his high volume fighting style.
The guy that Eubank Jr. would have the most problems with in the division is Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, who is a volume puncher as well, but with much better power and the ability to throw to the body. Ramirez is bigger and stronger than Eubank Jr. Ramirez has an excellent chin, and he’s not going to get overwhelmed by Eubank Jr’s punches. Ramirez would likely be a step too far for Eubank Jr. Jesse Hart would be a problem for Eubank Jr. as well due to his punching power. Eubank Jr. would need to take some massive shots for 12 rounds for him to beat Hart, and it’s unclear whether he can do that. Hart has a good chin, and he’s not someone that Eubank Jr. will be able to blast out like he did against Yildirim. Eubank Jr. is a good fighter, but he’s clearly not the best at 168. He’s perhaps No.4 or 5. Eubank Jr. will probably come undone against Braehmer, Ramirez, Hart, David Benavidez and possibly Groves. The size and the power of those guys could prove to be too much for Eubank Jr.
“There is nothing George can do that is going to stop me,” Eubank Jr. said. “This is a defining fight for me. It gives me the right to say I’m the number one super middleweight in the world. Two world titles,” Eubank Jr. said.
Eubank Jr. says he’ll have 2 world titles after he beats Groves. You can argue that Eubank Jr. will really only have 1 world title, because a lot of boxing fans don’t consider the IBO belt as a world class title, even though it’s held by guys like Gennady Golovkin.
Eubank Jr. is wrong about a victory over Groves proving he’s the No1 super middleweight in the world. That won’t be a reality. The only thing a win over Groves will prove is Eubank Jr. is better than him. It won’t prove that Eubank Jr. is the best fighter in the 168 lb. division, because he’ll still need to beat Gilberto Ramirez, Jesse Hart, and the Smith vs. Braehmer winner for him to say he’s the best fighter in the division. There are also tough fighters like Jose Uzcategui and Andre Dirrell that would prove to be difficult opponents for Eubank Jr. to fight. Uzcategui has huge punching power, and Dirrell has faster hand speed and better defensive skills than Eubank Jr. He’s also bigger than him at 6’2”. Those are all tough fights for Eubank Jr. If Eubank Jr. defeat Groves, he would just be starting out in trying to prove that he’s the best fighter in the 168 lb. weight class. There are so many different fighters out there that Eubank Jr. would need to beat before he could say for a dead certainty that he’s the best. If Badou Jack moved back down to 168, he’d be another opponent that would give Eubank Jr. massive problems with his size, power and body punching ability. The same goes for Andre Ward. If he came out of retirement, he would be favored to beat Eubank Jr. as well.