The day i sparred Eubank Jr and why he won’t win…

Liam Griffiths Boxer

I can personally vouch for Chris Eubank Jr’s power and fitness having sparred him in front of his trainer Ronnie Davis And Dad Chris Sr seven years ago. On the cusp of turning professional, i traveled over to cheetahs gym in Brighton with my friend Faz Chitima. I’m not too proud to admit I got a bit of a drubbing in the four rounds I shared with him. He gets some unfair criticism for being arrogant, though each time Iv met him Iv found these claims unfounded. Iv met George Groves a few times on the pro circuit as well, and can personally testify that, from what I have seen at least, he too is a down to earth, humble man who conducts himself in the manner of a true champion.

The build up to the imminent, highly anticipated match up between The two concluded today with the public weigh-in at the Hilton hotel in Manchester.

It’ll be the last time the pair see each other before the referees instructions tomorrow night and, given the mind games they’ve played throughout the build up, you’d bet they’ll both be relishing the opportunity to land one last psychological jab.

Eubank vs Groves, ranked number 1 and number two respectively as the country’s leading super-middleweights, will be contested for the latter’s WBA world championship belt, and a chance to box for the Mohamed Ali trophy in the world boxing super series final.

The superb blend of styles gives this all the makings of a classic. A real treat for casual and hardcore fans alike, with the potential to rival that of Eubank Sr vs Nigel Benn. A fight we still talk about twenty years later. There are stark resemblances between the two world title fights. Benn v eubank was billed as boxer versus puncher. There was genuine distain between the two before their 94 world title fight. The build up to this event has also seen both men employing the same psychological one-upmanship, constantly undermining each others abilities and credentials. It’s made for some fascinating pre fight press conferences and interviews. Both trying to get under the others skin and empower themselves.

As 50/50 domestic fights go, you’d be hard pushed to get a more evenly matched contest than this in any division. Both are in the form of their careers and both looking good coming off stoppage wins against big punchers in their corresponding quarter finals.
So who wins?

Eubank Jr has enjoyed a somewhat formidable rise since losing to the now reigning middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders back in 2014 and has since looked impressive in reeling off 8 straight wins, 7 of which coming inside the distance, winning a Lonsdale belt and an IBO world strap. He is one of the most exciting fighters in the world to watch at the moment. His fast hands and crisp combinations complimenting his aggressive, fan friendly style.

Groves too has found equally impressive form since his loss to Badou Jack in 2015, picking up the more coveted WBA championship along the way with an impressive stoppage over Fredor Chudinov. His ramrod jab, explosive right hand and all round ring generalship has given him a right to feel bewildered as to why he is ranked behind his counterpart in the British ratings.

There are striking similarities between the two fighters careers. Both British champions with the exact same number of knockout wins. Both have been involved in big domestic British title fights before. Groves against James DeGale back in 2011, Eubank versus Billy joe Saunders in 2014.

The vulnerabilities they have both shown could be reflected in the style that the opposite man possesses. Groves has struggled with come forward punchers in the past. Going back to a win back in 2013 where he had to climb off the canvas to halt the rugged Kenny Anderson to retain his Commonwealth title. There is his loss to Badou Jack. And of course suffering his two other defeats to Carl Froch. Both of those reverses came in the form of late stoppages, which reassert the question mark over his stamina and chin at world level.
Eubank hasn’t shown any real vulnerabilities. The main factor in that logic is that he hasn’t beat a legitimate world level opponent. He has struggled with guys that can box on the back foot. His loss to Saunders serving as evidence of that. In the earlier stages of his career the two of his subpar performances that stick in my mind would be his fights against Terry Cerruthers and Tyan Booth. The former being on a show that I boxed on in 2013 in summerset. His fight with Booth, though ending in a TKO win for Eubank, didn’t go all his way. Booth, using his movement and long range shot selection, nullified Eubanks attacks but ran out of steam and was subsequently stopped in the last round.

Both intelligent, thinking men will have their opposing game plans. Eubanks will be to close the distance in order to lad his ferocious uppercuts and rapid-fire combinations on the inside. Groves on the other hand will no doubt try to stand off his man using his stiff jab as a range finder to land his devastating right hand.

Both men are supremely confident in their game plans. It’s easy to envision either man winning if the fight pans out the way they would want it to.

Iv put my money on George Groves, taking advantage of the massive 11/8 odds that bet 365 were offering. I feel he’ll be too big and mobile for the Brighton man and will come through some rough stages in the fight to win via points or late stoppage. Groves will likely be a full stone heavier than Eubank by the time they touch gloves having campaigned his whole career as a super middleweight. It’s hard to ignore how much experience he has over Eubank. The aforementioned fight with degale was a huge build up to a fantastic fight that groves came out of on top. That fight was SEVEN years ago. Now a seasoned veteran of the game, He’s been there before, as both champion and challenger. Underdog and favourite.

It’s certainly not a foregone conclusion. Just hearing the confidence of Eubank in his interviews strikes an element of doubt in me. I just groves knows a little bit to much. That’s why I give him the edge. I can’t wait.

About the Author

Liam Griffiths
Turned professional in 2011, trained and managed by Michael Ballingal at Bally's Gym in Portsmouth. Has boxed in every corner of the UK, including Bethnal Green, Elland Road, Villa Park and in Belfast, Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh. Favourite boxer is Oscar de la Hoya.