The World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) has been great for fans, and given the fighters involved a huge boost in marketability. Many of us had hoped that the semi finals of the super middleweight bracket would be as thrilling as those in the cruiserweight division, in which evenly matched fighters engaged in highly skilled brawls that thrilled the audience. We were not to be so lucky today. Instead, from the Manchester Arena in Manchester, U.K. we saw a fighter whose ceiling we knew, George Groves (30-3, 20 KO), decide the ceiling for another fighter whose promise was his greatest accomplishment, Chris Eubank Junior (26-2, 20 KO). Groves won the largely one sided affair by judges scores of 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113. TQBR scored the bout 118-110.
Going into the bout, the notion was that Eubank’s swarming, busy style might finally erode the foundations of Groves, who though only a year older than his foe has fought the much tougher competition and been a pro for longer. Groves, taken out to sea and unmoored was supposed to fade late, as he did in his three losses against Carl Froch (twice) and Badou Jack. That did not happen.
The bout began cautiously and slowly. This suited Groves, who staked his claim to the center of the ring and fired jabs, constantly keeping Eubank on his back foot and unable to bull rush. This pattern continued until the 3rd round, when a sloppy exchange ended with Eubank sporting a nasty cut over his right eye from an accidental clash of heads. The corner, like their fighter, seemed to have no answers for the difficulties they were now facing, and if it produced a sense of urgency in either, it was not evident.
The rounds ticked by, one much like the previous. Eubank would flail his way in, and Groves would counter smartly or cruise behind his excellent jab. Then, for long stretches, very little happened. You could find more times that an off balance Eubank went over or through the ropes than quality exchanges. The only sustained drama that did occur was in the 12th round when Eubank finally mounted a sustained attack, and Groves looked worried. Early in the round, Groves stopped throwing his left hand, and appeared to have injured his shoulder. This was confirmed after the fight as he conducted his interview in a sling. The injury was not enough, and Groves held on to secure the wide points decision.
Groves now waits to see who he will face in the WBSS finals. Callum Smith and Jurgen Braehmer face off next week to decide that. If Groves is diminished from his hard fought losses to Froch and Jack, it did not show tonight. It would appear that his talent is not evaporating as quickly as his hairline, and that can only be a good thing. Boxing needs more world class technicians. Eubank, on the other hand needs to learn some new tricks if he’s to have any future at the top. His rushing, flailing style is somewhat akin to Shawn Porter, but without the quick first step and ludicrous strength that allows Porter to gut out wins.
(MANCHESTER, U.K. George Groves (right) and Chris Eubank (left) during the WBA Super-Middleweight title fight. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday February 17, 2018; Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)