George Groves cruised into the World Boxing Super Series final after retaining his WBA super-middleweight title against an outmatched Chris Eubank Jr in Manchester.
Groves took a unanimous decision on scorecards of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 in a main event bout which saw ‘Saint’ George keep Eubank under control with his jab and reducing the challenger to wild lunges.
It became apparent after a few rounds that Eubank’s attacking prowess in this domestic showdown was limited to sporadic bursts forward, leading with a left that connected more than once. But Groves was able to soak up those occasional power punches and land far more on the back foot, combining that with shrewd ring generalship to move comfortably into an unassailable lead.
AS IT HAPPENED: George Groves vs Chris Eubank Jr
However, a weary Eubank went for broke in the final round and sparked a tremendous conclusion to the contest which had the crowd on its feet. Groves ate some heavy shots but remained on his feet to inflict a second career defeat upon Junior.
Reports immediately after the fight suggest that Groves’ shoulder came out of the socket going into the final round, making his weathering of that last-ditch salvo all the more admirable.
For Eubank Jr, however, it’s back to the drawing board. And surely after a second successive big-fight failure, it’s time to swallow his pride and recruit a proper trainer and corner team.
Round One: Eubank surprises many by not immediately going in on the offensive, perhaps anticipating Groves’ back-foot gameplan. However, George is able to control the opener with great snap on his jab regardless, forcing a clumsy start for the challenger. 10-9 Groves
Round Two: Another round of frustration for Eubank, who this time around looks for an opening more than once only to receive more than he dished out. Untidy from Junior, who was also wobbled on one counter-shot. 20-18 Groves
Round Three: We finally get an explosion from Eubank less than a minute into the third with his best salvo yet, however Groves weathers the combo and spends the remainder of the round attaching his opponent back to that jab. An accidental clash of heads has also opened Eubank up on the side of his right eye. 30-27 Groves
Round Four: Eubank steps up his aggression again and this time enjoys much more success with his hands. Several combos land on Groves, but for the time being George is stepping back or tying his man up by the arms. Pragmatic but could prove effective in frustrating Eubank further. 39-37 Groves
Round Five: Ugly round, just when the live crowd were beginning to expect things to really continue to escalate. Groves is warned late on for going round the back of the head. Junior edges it with a few more cleaner lands. 48-47 Groves
Round Six: Eubank’s bursts forward appear to be getting more and more telegraphed as Groves avoids the worst of each shots and keeps Eubank tied up or at a safe distance. The defending world champion’s ring generalship is really keeping Junior at bay as it did when Billy Joe Saunders employed a similar gameplan three years ago. 58-56 Groves
Round Seven: Unless Eubank has something else up his sleeve later on, Groves is very much happy keeping him at arms length. The frustration is clear on Junior as he almost goes through the ropes lunging forward wildly at George. 68-65 Groves
Round Eight: Best round of the fight so far as Eubank finally lands another one of the lefts he has been so reliant upon, but attempts to follow up lead to a fantastic exchange in which both men land well. Again, however, Groves gets the better of his man over three minutes. 78-74 Groves
Round Nine: Trademark Groves as the ‘championship rounds’ begin, engaging with Eubank to an unnecessary degree which works in the favour of Junior’s lunges forward. A better round for the challenger albeit not through a long-overdue change in approach. 87-84 Groves
Round Ten: Great early left hook from Eubank, perhaps his best so far, but Groves soaks it well and a telling lack of follow-up allows him to return to keeping Junior at bay. And when things open up again late on, it’s Groves who is turning the screw. 97-93 Groves
Round Eleven: Knowing it’s his only option at this stage, Eubank goes for broke in the penultimate round but continues to lack the range and eats a big shot for every decent one he lands on Groves. Junior returns to his stool for the last time looking weary. 107-102 Groves
Round Twelve: Eubank, to his credit, absolutely goes for it with everything he has left and it results in a classic final round with the two exchanging heavy shots. Groves should be continuing to evade, but instead plays with fire to the roars of the crowd for such a thrilling finale. 116-112 Groves