By Keith Idec
The atmosphere Thursday wasn’t nearly as boisterous as it would’ve been if George Groves and Callum Smith were fighting somewhere in their native England.
It was comparatively quiet in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where Groves and Smith both made weight for their World Boxing Super Series super middleweight championship match. Their WBSS 168-pound tournament final is scheduled for Friday night at King Abdullah Sports City’s Grand Arena.
London’s Groves, 30, officially weighed in at 167¾ pounds. Liverpool’s Smith, 28, weighed 167½ pounds.
Groves (28-3, 20 KOs), the defending WBA super middleweight champion, is slightly favored to defeat Smith (24-0, 17 KOs). Smith will fight for a world title for the first time in his six-year pro career.
DAZN will stream the Groves-Smith match live in the United States. Coverage is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT and Groves-Smith is expected to start around 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT.
Groves and Smith tentatively were scheduled to fight June 2 at O2 Arena in London, but Groves’ shoulder injury forced a postponement. Investors in Jeddah offered enough money to the World Boxing Super Series’ organizers to bring this British battle to Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah was supposed to be the site of the World Boxing Super Series’ cruiserweight final May 11. Once that bout was postponed due to Oleksandr Usyk’s elbow injury, it was moved to Olympic Stadium in Moscow, where Ukraine’s Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs) impressively out-boxed Russia’s Murat Gassiev (26-1, 19 KOs) to win their 12-round cruiserweight title unification fight by unanimous decision July 21.
Groves suffered a dislocated left shoulder during the 12th round of his WBSS semifinal win against England’s Chris Eubank Jr. (26-2, 20 KOs) on February 17 in Manchester. His subsequent surgery caused a 3½-month delay of the final.
Smith reached the final by beating the Netherlands’ Nieky Holzken by unanimous decision February 24 in Nuremberg, Germany. Smith was supposed to meet Germany’s Juergen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs) in the semifinals.
Braehmer withdrew due to an illness the week of that bout and Holzken took that tough fight on only five days’ notice. Holzken (14-1, 11 KOs) was supposed to face another opponent on the Braehmer-Smith undercard.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.