Groves has 10 days to prove he’s fit to fight Callum Smith in WBSS finals
By Jim Dower: George Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) could be replaced by Chris Eubank Jr. for his finals match against Callum Smith in the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament. Groves suffered a dislocated shoulder in his 12 round unanimous win over Eubank Jr. last February in the semifinals of the WBSS tournament.
The tournament organizers want to be sure that Groves is going to be able to compete against Johnson (24-0, 17 KOs).
It’s unclear what Groves will need to do to prove that he can compete in the WBSS finals against Smith. Presumably, Groves would need to pass a physical from a qualified doctor.
Groves doesn’t have much time to rehab his left shoulder. The fight is going to take place in the summer, and it could prove difficult for him to heal his shoulder and get it full strength by that time. It could be risky for Groves if his shoulder isn’t at full strength. The last thing that Groves needs is to suffer an additional injury to his left shoulder that could jeopardize his career.
The tournament has already suffered a blow when Callum Smith’s semifinals opponent Juergen Braehmer dropped out because of an illness. Instead of one of the talented contenders in the 168lb division taking Braehmer’s place, little known Nieky Holzken filled in and Smith easily beat him.
It was a cakewalk for Smith to get into the finals, because he didn’t have to beat a real threat like Gilberto Ramirez, David Benavidez, Tyron Zeuge, Jesse Hart, Braehmer or Jose Uzgategui. Those are the best fighters in the division. James DeGale used to be considered the best fighter at 168 in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans for a brief period of time, but he hasn’t been the same fighter since fighting to a 12 round draw last year against Badou Jack.
“We are waiting for the final discussions and reports from George before we know whether he will be able to make the timeline of the final,” Kalle Sauerland said to skysports.com. ”In 10 days we will make an announcement on whether George is in the final or not. If we need a replacement then I would look for a solution from within the tournament so Eubank Jr is a name that would come up,” Sauerland said.
It’s odd that the WBSS tournament organizers would want to look within the tournament to an opponent that has already been beaten to potentially replace Groves. Eubank Jr. is a good fighter, but the fact remains that he was soundly beaten by Groves last February, and it’s going to be a major detractor for boxing fans to have him back in the tournament to compete against Callum Smith in the finals. That looks really bad for a beaten fighter in the tournament to be given a second chance. If this were the NFL, the fans would be extremely unhappy if a team that was beaten in the Championship game of the playoffs was still allowed to play in the Super Bowl after they were beaten badly the way Eubank Jr. was. Jose Uzcategui is reportedly interested in taking Groves’ place if he can’t make it. Uzcategui would be a very good replacement for Groves, and many boxing fans would even pick him to beat Smith.
The WBSS tournament organizers can’t wait until 2019 to finish the tournament. They want to have the tournament finals take place in the summer, and unfortunately for Groves, it doesn’t leave him a lot of time to heal and rehab his left shoulder.
The WBSS cruiserweight tournament has also been slowed by injury with Oleksander Usyk suffering that has forced the postponement of his unification fight against IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev.