By Keith Idec
George Groves senses some overconfidence in Chris Eubank Jr. a few days away from their British super middleweight showdown in Manchester.
Groves considers Eubank’s belief that he doesn’t need assistance from his trainer, Ronnie Davies, or his legendary father, Chris Eubank Sr., to be signs that the younger Eubank is underestimating him and how difficult their fight will be.
London’s Groves (27-3, 20 KOs) will defend his WBA 168-pound championship against Brighton’s Eubank (26-1, 20 KOs), who holds the IBO strap, at a sold-out Manchester Arena and the winner will advance to the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight final.
“It could be over-arrogance or it could just be naivety, him thinking he doesn’t need anyone’s help or will get to the top without any help,” Groves told Sky Sports before a press conference Wednesday in Manchester. “His plan is to get fit for every fight and he always is. Is he going to get fitter? Is that going to help? If he’s fit to do 12 rounds, there’s no plan to get fit for 15, is there?
“He’s going to have to improve. Is he going to punch harder than he’s done before? Legitimately, there’s only one thing he can do and that’s get fitter.”
Handicappers have favored Eubank to beat Groves, which has motivated the 29-year-old champion.
“I am not for one second taking him lightly, because I don’t think he has any quit in him,” Groves said. “He might have a good chin. He definitely has a good engine. But as soon as I hit him, I am going to hurt him and put him away. There is a massive difference in opposition we have both faced. He is going to have to make a huge step up.”
Groves has made sure to point out that has faced retired IBF champion Carl Froch twice, former IBF champ James DeGale, former two-division champ Badou Jack, Martin Murray and onetime undisputed light heavyweight champ Glen Johnson. Froch stopped Groves twice and Jack edged him by split decision, but Groves owns points wins over DeGale, Murray and Johnson, who was 43 when they fought.
Eubank lost in his toughest fight as a pro to since-crowned WBO middleweight champ Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), who beat Eubank by split decision in their 12-rounder three years ago.
The Groves-Eubank winner will face whoever emerges from the other WBSS super middleweight semifinal February 24. Germany’s Juergen Braehmer (49-3, 25 KOs) and England’s Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs) are set to fight that night in Nuremberg, Germany.
The WBSS super middleweight final is scheduled for June 2 at O2 Arena in London.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.