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Callum Smith willing to wait for George Groves until Aug/Sept.

George Groves Callum Smith Groves vs. Smith

By Tim Royner: Callum Smith says he’s learned that George Groves may be out until August or September before he’s able to face him in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament.

Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) is coming off of shoulder surgery on his left shoulder after hurting it in his semifinals fight against Chris Eubank Jr. on February 17 in Manchester, England. It was thought that Groves be able to get back into the ring in June to meet with the 28-year-old unbeaten Smith (24-0, 17 KOs), but not it looks like it’s going to require more time for him to heal and prepare for the finals. Just how much time Groves will need is unknown. Shoulder injuries take a long time for a fighter to recover from.

The WBSS is willing to accommodate Groves for the sake of the tournament, which needs him. However, if Groves cannot compete by August or September, then Eubank Jr. (26-2, 20 KOs) will be his replacement. Smith obviously doesn’t like the idea of fighting Eubank Jr. rather than Groves, because there won’t be a world title on the line and he won’t get as much credit for beating him. But even if Smith beats Groves, he probably won’t receive a massive amount of positive press from the boxing media due to Saint George’s shoulder injury.

“I’m hearing now maybe there is a chance it could go back to August-September,” Smith said to ”I’ve said I would rather wait and fight Groves. He’s got the world title, which is what I entered the tournament for.”

The WBSS tournament would be turned into a joke in the eyes of boxing fans if Groves is replaced by Eubank Jr. It’s unclear why the WBSS would even consider using a beaten fighter to replace Groves. It’s senseless to have Eubank Jr. as the standby to replace Groves. The WBSS organizers might as well have Callum Smith’s beaten opponent Nieky Holzken be the replacement for Groves rather than Eubank Jr., because he did a much better job in his semifinals match.

Holzken at least looked like a professional fighter in losing to Smith, which is more than what I could say for Eubank Jr. It’s a rotten idea to use Holzen as well. The WBSS should be trying to get the likes of WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez, WBA champion Tyron Zeuge, IBF belt holder James DeGale, IBF interim champion Jose Uzcategui or WBO champion Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez to face Smith in the finals of the tournament. One of those guys would be infinitely better than Eubank Jr.

There’s a high number of contenders that would be good options as a replacement for Groves.

Someone from this list would be an excellent choice to replace George Groves:

• John Ryder

• Jesse Hart

• Caleb Plant

• Vincent Feigenbutz

• Rocky Fielding

• Anthony Dirrell

• Juergen Braehmer

• Calen Truax

• Fedor Chudinov

• Matt Korobov

One of those fightrs would do the job of replacing Groves if he’s unable to take the fight with Smith in the finals. The boxing fans wouldn’t make too much of a fuss if Korobov, Ryder, Hart or Plant got the call to step in as the replacement for Groves.

I would get more credit, more reward, more everything for beating George Groves, then I would Chris Eubank Jr.”

Smith is in a tough spot though. All he can do is wait and hope that Groves will be able to heal up enough for him to compete in August or September. It’s been only three months since Groves’ shoulder injury. Given that shoulder problems sometimes take more than a year for a fighter to recover from, if they ever do, it could take a lot longer for Groves to be able to come back from the injury. Look at heavyweight Dillian ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte as example. He had shoulder surgery in 2015 following his 7th round knockout loss to Anthony Joshua, and only now 3 years later he’s finally regaining the strength in his left shoulder. Whyte took six months off before he returned to the ring against journeyman Ivica Bacurin in June 2016. Whyte didn’t face a good opponent until his fight with Dereck Chisora in December 2016, which was one-year after his shoulder injury against Joshua in December 2015. It might be a mistake on Groves’ part for him to rush back six to seven months after the injury to fight Smith in August or September.

It would be safer and smarter for the 30-year-old Groves to comeback slowly by facing a bottom level contender like #14 WBA Paul Smith or #15 Jayde Mitchell in his first fight back from the injury. The worst thing Groves could do is face Smith, because he’s going to need to be 100 percent for him to beat him. If Groves takes that fight, he could risk further injury to his shoulder if it comes out of the socket again, like it did against Eubank Jr. in the 12th round. The referee allowed Groves to fight the entire round with his left shoulder looking badly injured. The fight should have been stopped once it was clear that Groves had a serious shoulder injury. Groves would have lost his WBA title obviously, but the damage to his shoulder might have been less severe.

The 28-year-old Eubank Jr. hasn’t scheduled a fight against anyone, and it seems that he’s willing to be the replacement for Groves if he can’t go. Why Eubank Jr. would want to lower himself by being a replacement is open for debate. It makes him look bad. Eubank Jr. was weeded of the tournament already by Groves. It would have to be a real negative for him to still be allowed to fight in the finals even after a loss. I’m not sure why Eubank Jr. doesn’t see that as a bad thing, because I think a lot of fighters wouldn’t want to be seen coming back to the same tournament that they were already eliminated from.

The 6’3” Smith defeated the little known Nieky Holzen by a 12 round unanimous decision in his semifinals match on February 24 in Nuremberg, Germany. Going into that fight, Smith was expected to blowout Holzken, who is little more than a boxing novice at best in terms of experience. Instead, Holzken gave Smith fits with his athleticism and ring IQ. Holzken proved that brains and athleticism can take a fighter far. It didn’t matter that Holzken didn’t have the same pedigree, size or punching power as Callum Smith, he was the smarter fighter and the more athletic guy inside the ring. Smith had to battle hard to beat him, and he looked bad in doing so in winning a decision. In Smith’s first fight of the tournament, he beat Erik Skoglund by a 12 round unanimous decision last September in the quarterfinals. That was a fight where Smith went to sleep in the middle rounds after a good start, and he was forced to come on late to get the decision.

If Groves isn’t 100 percent when/if he does return to compete in the finals of the WBSS, then Smith is going to be very hard to beat. Groves won’t be able to beat him with just his right hand unless he lands something really hard early on. If Smith is able to get to the second half of the fight, which is when Groves tends to fade, he’ll have a good chance of beating him. It’s going to depend on what kind of physical condition Groves is in. He would be foolish to come back if his left shoulder isn’t 100 percent, because he could hurt the remainder of his career by coming back too soon.

It’s good that Kalle Sauerland is willing to let Groves recover until August or September to compete in the WBSS finals. But it’s a no-brainer on his part to try and wait for him rather than looking to use Eubank Jr. as the replacement, because that’s going to make the WBSS tournament look like a joke in the minds of a lot of boxing fans.

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