World Boxing Super Series: George Groves outsmarts Chris Eubank Jr.
George Groves earned a unanimous decision victory over Chris Eubank Jr. on Saturday night in Manchester, England, to retain his WBA super middleweight title and advance to the World Boxing Super Series final.
“Terrific fight for the fans,” Groves said immediately afterward in the post-fight interview. “Well done from Chris Eubank – he didn’t lie when he said he was gonna grit it out tonight.”
Groves, 28-3 (20), was the more composed and complete fighter throughout 12 rounds of intense moments that excited a great crowd at the Manchester Arena. After a slow, tactical opening round, Groves clipped Eubank on the chin with a right hand in the second to mark the fight’s first significant moment. Eubank sought a clinch immediately afterward, and throughout the rest of the round, but came back urgently to start the third round and ignite the fight’s first wild exchange. In that instance, Eubank landed his first clean punches of the fight but Groves calmly weathered the storm by round’s end with his counterpart bleeding in his corner.
Eubank, 26-2 (20), bled throughout the fight from a large gash on his right eyebrow. Caused by an accidental clash of heads was the ruling and Eubank noticeably slowed down in the proceeding rounds, often left chasing Groves around the ring, without any new ideas on his attack. For the entire fight, that attack didn’t feature a jab, and, with Groves using his to counter when Eubank came forward, the fight then turned into a physical roughhousing in the middle rounds.
“I couldn’t see out of my eye for most of the fight,” Eiubank said afterward. “A cut is a cut; you have to deal with it. You have to keep going. I’m a warrior – that’s what I do: I fight. (Groves) was in top form. Did I underestimate him a little bit? Maybe. He’s big, strong and tough.”
Referee Michael Alexander white shirt was bloodied by the end of the night and, for much of the middle rounds, had to break up the two, as they held and hit each other repeatedly. Many times each man would even trade rabbit punches but, with these scenarios on the inside, Groves got the better of Eubank. Eventually, after a couple of warnings from Alexander, they went back to boxing and thus Groves, having the better sense of distance and positioning, picked apart a charging Eubank, who grew more desperate, as the fight went on. At the end of the eighth, Eubank had perhaps his most desperate moment when he stood in front of Groves with his hands down and tried to land a counter-punch that would’ve erased everything that preceded it. With Groves being able to see Eubank’s desperation attacks, he slipped out of the way and would find a clean power right of his own, without the same fury of his foe but much more effective.
“I thought it was close,” Eubank said. “I thought I did enough at the end of the rounds to win the fight but it was a close fight. All credit to George. This is a part of boxing: You win some; you lose some.”
Eubank did have an inspired 12th round in which he seemed to stun Groves for the final minute of the fight. His uppercuts were finally starting to land consecutively for the fast-handed combination maven in the gym but it was too little, too late for the 28-year-old who trains himself. Eubank quickly ran out of ideas and had trouble with smothering his shots throughout, but certainly one positive to take away from this performance was his heart. He was hurt a handful of times, even seemingly knocked down in one instance but, every time it looked like Groves was about to get him out of there, Eubank would will himself to throw punches and ward him off just enough to prevent it.
“When he had success, it was because I did something wrong,” Groves proclaimed. Being able to force Eubanks to miss most of his hellbent exchanges was part of an overall cerebral performance from the 29-year-old.
“It’s been a long time since I won in front of a big crowd. I had great support here tonight in this domestic world title fight. When I had been here before against Carl Froch (in May of 2014, at Wembley Stadium), I didn’t win. So it’s lovely today to get that justification.”
In the World Boxing Super Series final, Groves will face the winner of February 24’s semifinal between Callum Smith and Juergen Braehmer. Like Groves-Eubank, it to will be streamed live in the United States and Mexico on the WBSS’s YouTube and Facebook pages. In the post-fight interview, Groves had his left arm in sling as a precaution and it was learned that an injury happened in the final round.
“Well, I haven’t diagnosed it yet but, yeah, it feels pretty sore,” Groves said. “I wasn’t gonna let anything beat me tonight. I’ve boxed on with cuts, broken jaws, everything, and here tonight, I wasn’t gonna let any injury get me out. It was about who wanted it most, I think, and I obviously wanted it most.”