By Keith Idec
Callum Smith admits George Groves has a more impressive resume than him.
Groves’ history doesn’t make Smith any less confident that he’ll win their super middleweight title fight Friday night. That’s because the unbeaten Smith senses the 30-year-old Groves isn’t the same fighter from a physical standpoint as he was when he fought Carl Froch for the first time nearly five years ago.
“I don’t think he’s as good as he was with [former trainer] Adam Booth, when he was in his prime years,” Smith told IFL TV. “When he was 24, 25, I believe he was a better fighter then than he is now. He’s probably a bit more experienced and a smarter fighter. But athletically and physically, I don’t believe he’s as good.”
London’s Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) suffered two tough knockout defeats to Froch in back-to-back bouts in November 2013 and May 2014. Liverpool’s Smith (24-0, 17 KOs) is certain he’ll become the second opponent to stop Groves when they meet in the World Boxing Super Series’ 168-pound final at King Abdullah Sports City’s Grand Arena (DAZN; 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT).
“Yeah, I do,” Smith said. “And that’s not saying it’s gonna be an easy fight. I think he’s a very good fighter and he will present problems that I’ll need to overcome. But I just think he’s shown vulnerabilities in the past and I believe I’ll take advantage of them.”
Groves didn’t display much vulnerability during his relatively easy victory over another domestic rival, Chris Eubank Jr., in the WBSS semifinals. The WBA super middleweight champion soundly beat Eubank (26-2, 20 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder February 17 in Manchester, England.
“He boxed well,” said Smith, 28. “He stuck to the game plan. I think he was the only one who had a game plan beforehand, and he stuck to it. I think Eubank, stylistically, I picked George to beat him, anyway. But I think [Eubank] underperformed. I think he was loading up and swinging. He made George’s job a little bit easier.
“But you couldn’t be any different in styles from me and Chris Eubank, so there’s tactics that beat Eubank that I don’t believe beat me. So I take bits from it, but not a lot because his style is completely different.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.