Hellraiser Boxing News | MAKING SENSE OF GROVES VS EUBANK JR.
George Storr takes a look at the massive Groves vs Eubank Jr fight this weekend. What way do you see it going?
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by George Storr,
They’ve already done the business outside of the ring, with an arresting press conference and the attraction of a sell-out crowd to the Manchester Arena, but come Saturday the talking and theorising will draw to a close and boxing fans will finally get to indulge in the much touted fistic feast that is George Groves (27-3. 20Kos) versus Chris Eubank Junior (26-1. 20Kos).
It’s been argued, convincingly, every which way. Many pundits believe Eubank’s freshness and work rate could swing the bout in his favour, while others cite Groves’ familiarity with the sport’s biggest stages, as well as his size.
When I spoke to undefeated Scottish super-middleweight, Tommy Philbin, he was very much in the Groves camp: “I actually think Groves [will win]. I think it will be hard for Groves at the start because of Eubank’s speed but I think Groves will be too big and too strong and maybe stop him late, or take it on points.”
Natural size could be a deciding factor, it’s true, and commentators would do well to remember that Eubank only moved up to super-middleweight because of a very fortuitous title shot against the tough but limited Australian, Renold Quinlan.
The 28 year-old heir to the Eubank name boasts 20 KO’s in 26 bouts, with his only loss to date coming to Billy Joe Saunders. Following Saunders recent schooling of world level middleweight David Lemieux, a loss to him is confirmed as nothing to be ashamed of.
His most notable victories came against an ageing Arthur Abraham and Cork’s Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan. Meanwhile Groves has of course beaten the likes of Martin Murray and a prime James DeGale.
Some debate circles about how much of a toll Groves’s two wars with Carl Froch, and his defeat to Badou Jack in Vegas, might take on him, but in his last outing against Jamie Cox he effectively weathered an early storm and remained sharp to pick off Cox with a crippling body shot in the fourth. Many were quick to discount Cox as out of his depth but his Commonwealth gold medals at amateur, and his previously undefeated record as a pro, made him as much of, if not more of a threat, than any of Junior’s recent opponents.
Groves may have the edge through his natural size and form then, but Chris Eubank Sr. was keen to tell Boxing News how his son would undo ‘The Saint’: “You can’t compete with volume. You can’t out-skill volume. All the so-called experts are saying, ‘If you can keep him at the end of the jab…’ I get that. But it is impossible, and listen to this, it is impossible to contain a spirit that is clever enough to get past the jab. And what is the best way to get past the jab? He understands how, and it’s force. It’s pressure fighting.”
However, Eubank’s often lauded work-rate has been brought into question, firstly by Groves himself, who called Eubank ‘insta-famous’, implying he could make short bursts of hard work and hand speed look good for cameras, but that they wouldn’t save him over 12 rounds. Secondly though, and more importantly, statistical analysis on Boxing News Online showed the disparity of the two fighters work-rates, and hence Eubank’s advantage, to be largely an imagined one. Comparing fights in which they both went the distance, reports indicated that “When comparing the punch stats, there isn’t a massive difference in the total punches thrown on average per round,” and also that Groves in fact was statistically likely to finish the stronger of the two in terms of punches thrown, despite his reputation for gassing out at the back end of fights.
How far we should read into this number crunching is debatable, given the differences in opponents and circumstances examined across the investigation. However, it is fair to suggest that Eubank’s work rate might not be the ace in the hole that many have described it as.
Bookmakers are favouring Eubank, with Paddy Power currently listing him as odds on at 8/13, to win. Groves comes in at 6/4 and looks like an early contender for the best value boxing bet of the year.
My personal prediction is that Groves will have too much. I see The Saint taking a points win. His size and adaptability will stand him in good stead against Junior, who has everything to prove. As the old cliché goes though; ninety percent of boxing is mental, and Eubank has perhaps the second most fervent winning mentality going, bested only by his father in that department.
Whichever way the fight goes it is a watershed moment in Eubank’s career particularly, as fans ask: can he step out of Senior’s shadow and undo a hugely skilful, hugely experienced world champion? Watch this space for a great British mega-fight.
Posted: 13th Feb 2018
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