by Cliff Rold
So far, they’re three for three.
The World Boxing Super Series semi-finals were a smashing success at cruiserweight. While the super middleweight division didn’t provide the same depth of divisional talent in their pool of eight, it always looked like it could get interesting as the field whittled.
George Groves-Chris Eubank Jr. was the most desirable match in the field from jump and played out with drama, excitement, an finally a clear winner.
The problem might be whether that winner, Groves, will be able to make it to the finals. Under an attempt to snatch victory from defeat in the final round on Saturday, a cut and bloodied Eubank emptied his tank. Groves survived and the way he did so spoke to his guts and future peril.
Groves visibly stopped using his left in the round. He fought one handed, punching, clutching, sliding and slipping as Eubank landed some of his best punches of the night. Groves had enough will to win but does he have enough physically for the final? His injured limb was in a sling during post-fight interviews.
It makes the immediate future murky.
Prior to that final round, Groves used his jab, experience, and greater ring knowledge to outpunch, outclinch, and outfox Eubank. Eubank showed that, for all his development, he remains as vulnerable to being controlled by a jab as he was in his only other loss to Billy Joe Saunders.
Could Eubank have an unexpected light at the end of the tunnel?
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Groves: According to post-fight reporting, Groves was determined to have dislocated his shoulder and will receive further evaluation Tuesday. That evaluation will go a long way to determining whether he appears in the WBSS final. The final is scheduled for June 2nd and while there may be some flexibility with the date, there is a sizable chance Groves could be replaced if the injury is too severe. As the only major titlist in the field (the WBC, IBF, and WBO champions carry on separately), the loss of Groves would remove much luster though the WBA could always crown an interim champion in his absence (the WBA is prone to doing that when champions aren’t absent). For now, he can keep an eye on the other semi-final between Callum Smith and Juergen Braehmer. With the final slated for the UK’s O2 Arena, a Groves-Smith fight is the biggest final possible.
The Future for Eubank: Eubank-Smith would have been just as big if Eubank won, the point being that an all-UK final generates the most enthusiastic reaction from fans. It could still happen. While nothing is official, Eubank is certainly a logical economic choice to fill in if Groves cannot compete in time for the WBSS final. The issue for him could be cut recovery. Eubank didn’t leave without wounds and he’ll need those to heal up. If Groves can go, Eubank didn’t lose much in defeat. He fought hard from start to finish and showed there remains room to improve. Other fights he could target going forward could be the winner of a likely rematch between James DeGale and Caleb Truax. Truax upset DeGale late last year for the IBF belt late last year.
Rold Picks 2018: 2-2
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]