Updated: Sunday, 19th August 2018 @ 8:24am

Groves v Eubank Jr. – an evenly-matched Manchester showdown in the making

Groves v Eubank Jr. – an evenly-matched Manchester showdown in the making

| By MM staff

The upcoming World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) semi-final between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr. is coming up on February 17 at Manchester's MEN Arena.

This is a much-anticipated sporting event and a great draw for Manchester, so it's hardly surprising that all 21,000 tickets sold out in just seven minutes.

With the fight going out live on ITV Box Office, ITV's pay-per-view service, as well as before a capacity crowd in the flesh, it means that all eyes in the boxing world will be on Manchester to see who goes through to the Super Middleweight Final for a chance at the Muhammad Ali Trophy.

In training

Although only a year older than Eubank Jr., Groves seems like a veteran fighter and is already in the second round of his career.

His notorious knockout by Carl Froch in 2014 left the Londoner having to start over to rebuild his reputation.

Although he hired Shane McGuigan as his new coach, Groves doesn't have a great reputation as a sparrer, and according to some, his training regime in the gym leaves much to be desired.

Nevertheless, Groves is the heavier fighter and the bigger puncher with a string of impressive victories behind him.

Eubank Jr., meanwhile, has been training with Floyd Mayweather Sr. in Las Vegas, as well as at an underground facility on the seafront near his home in Hove, East Sussex.

Mayweather Sr., considered one of the best boxing trainers in the world, taught Eubank Jr. sparring skills and helped him to focus on speed, precision and high-volume combination punching. As a result, while Groves may have the weight advantage and a harder knockout blow, it may be Eubank Jr.'s relentless attacking that wins the day.

Who will win?

In contrast to some of the more one-sided boxing matches seen recently, Groves and Eubank Jr. are pretty evenly matched, and the odds reflect this. At the time of writing, Eubank Jr. is 4/7 to win, while it's 8/5 on Groves, and a 20/1 chance of a draw.

If you fancy a flutter, you can bet on all kinds of sports at Stakers.com, but even if you don't want to put your money down, the odds promise an exciting fight with a genuinely unpredictable outcome.

Relentless attack

Critics of Eubank Jr. say that he's a natural middleweight who has gone up a class for the money. As a result, he weighs in light for a super-middleweight, and despite a good record on the face of it, he hasn't actually faced too many strong challenges.

In 2014, in his first professional title fight, Eubank Jr.’s unbroken record of wins as a middleweight collapsed in the face of a defeat by Billy Joe Saunders.

Since turning super-middleweight in 2017, he has defeated relative unknown Renold Quinlan and an arguably past-his-best Arthur Abraham, overwhelming them both with his trademark relentless attack.

In Monte Carlo in July, Turkey's Avni Yıldırım went down beneath a flurry of punches from the rapid-fire Brightonian. Eubank Jr. may have more to prove, but there's nothing to suggest that he may not be more than a match for Groves on the day.

Hard man

Groves previously won the Commonwealth super-middleweight title at the Manchester Arena back in 2010, defeating Charles Adamu on a technical knockout.

However, after a series of triumphs, he famously came unstuck when going for the world title against Carl Froch at the Phones4U Arena in 2013 and then in a more decisive rematch at Wembley in 2014.

Froch sparred with Eubank Jr. in preparation for the 2014 bout and has since come out to say that in his opinion Groves doesn't stand a chance against Eubank Jr., who he described as "tough as old boots."

Nevertheless, Groves has successfully rebuilt his career, finally becoming WBA super-middleweight world champion in May after defeating Fedor Chudinov in Sheffield.

After joining the WBSS tournament, he faced Jamie Cox in the semi-final, sending Cox down with a well-placed right hook in the fourth round. Groves is a hard man with a lot of experience and on paper may look like the most likely contender.

Since then, the two fighters have engaged in a war of words, with Eubank Jr. claiming that Groves suffered mental scars from his defeat by Froch. Groves hit back by saying that Eubank Jr. was a performer rather than a fighter, but many observers see Eubank Jr. as the fitter fighter and Groves as already in decline.

Still, right now, the win could go to either man. Whoever is left standing, it will have been a great night for boxing and a memorable occasion in Manchester sporting history.   

Image courtesy of FightHype.com via YouTube, with thanks.