George Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) was the betting underdog against Chris Eubank Jr (26-2, 20 KOs) in the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight semifinals, but it was Groves’ superior craft and overall boxing skill that led him to a unanimous decision win over Eubank Jr in front of a raucous crowd in Manchester, England. Groves retained his WBA title, took Eubank’s IBO title (not that this means much), and is now in the WBSS tournament final.
It was a tense, tactical affair in the first few rounds, with Groves committing to his jab and preventing Eubank from dictating terms of the fight. Eubank did his best work in close quarters, but often found himself swinging wildly at air and struggling with Groves’ footwork. Eubank appeared to have been knocked down in round 2, but it was ruled a slip. A clash of heads bloodied Eubank above his right eye in the 3rd round, and the cut steadily worsened as the fight progressed.
The second-half of the fight was bonkers, and certainly not anyone’s idea of a technical masterclass. On numerous occasions, Groves had to fend off Eubank’s blitz of punches against the ropes, and there were dirty exchanges from both men, which led to the referee admonishing them for their actions. Groves repeatedly rabbit punched Eubank, and Eubank was throwing in the clinch even after the referee had told them to break. Still, the moments were tense and exciting, and Groves took command with his precise counterpunching, superior defense, and even when he did get hit, he showed a good chin. Eubank did have his spurts of offense, almost exclusively through his wading in to throw uppercuts and lead left hooks, but at range he looked short of ideas and was downright sloppy.
Both men hurt each other in round 8, which saw some crazy haymakers being traded. Eubank again hit the canvas in round 10, and again it was ruled a slip. Knowing that he needed a KO, Eubank did all he could to stop Groves in the final round, and as entertaining as it was, his efforts were not enough. Groves also caught Eubank with a couple of short uppercuts while on the defensive, and smartly tied up to prevent Eubank from gaining any momentum.
Official scorecards read 117-112, 116-112, and 115-113 in Groves’ favor. Bloody Elbow scored the fight 116-112 for Groves.
Unfortunately, in a tournament that’s been virtually injury-free, Groves hurt his left shoulder in the final round, so we’ll see if that affects his ability to fight on June 2nd. It certainly looked bad.
Groves now awaits the winner of Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs) and Juergen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs), which will take place in Nuremburg, Germany on Saturday, February 24th.
WBSS Super-middleweight Tournament
#1 “Saint” George Groves def. Jamie Cox by KO, round 4
#3 Chris “Next Gen” Eubank Jr def. Avni “Mr. Robot” Yildirim by KO, round 3
#2 Callum “Mundo” Smith def. Erik Skoglund by unanimous decision
#4 Juergen Braehmer def. Rob “Bravo” Brant by unanimous decision
George Groves def. Chris Eubank Jr. by unanimous decision
Callum Smith vs. Juergen Braehmer – Saturday, February 24th in Germany
Final (June 2nd, 2018)
George Groves vs. Smith/Braehmer winner
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