The hotly anticipated clash between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jnr is set to go off on February 17 and the boxing community is split.
Heading into the World Boxing Super Series semi-final, Groves has the size, experience and the WBA super-middleweight belt. However, if you poll the experts, opinion appears to be divided on the eventual outcome. Despite faltering in his only real test as a pro against Billy Joe Saunders, Eubank Jnr has the momentum behind him.
Not only that, but early sparring sessions between the two appears to have given Chris Eubank’s son an underlying confidence.
A look at the boxing betting markets currently has Eubank Jnr as the favourite. Although Groves has been involved in bigger fights, the odds makers have him out at 7/5 heading into the ring. In the other corner, 8/13 is the price for Jnr, while those that like to predict the unpredictable can get 22/1 on the draw.
Looking through the stats, it’s tough to see where such a difference in odds is coming from. Sure, there often has to be a favourite in any given fight, but the records seem to suggest a more even contest than the odds. Of course, the only way to evaluate the betting lines is to run the numbers. So, with that in mind, let’s breakdown the respective records of Groves and Eubank Jnr.
Power vs. Speed
Groves has just three more fights than his opponent, but both have racked up 20 knockouts. While those figures would suggest that both fighters have similar punching power, there’s an argument that Groves has faced tougher opposition.
As well as knocking down gritty veterans like Fedor Chudinov, Saint George put former champion Carl Froch on his back. Although he went on to lose both of his bouts with Froch, he did leave a lasting impression on the former champion. Indeed, ahead of Saturday’s fight,
Froch has warned Eubank Jnr not to overlook the Londoner’s power. On the flipside, memories of Nick Blackwell suggest that Jnr isn’t without a devastating barrage or two of his own. Naturally, at the super-middleweight level, neither man is going to have pillow fists, but one would lean towards Groves in a straight shootout.
If there’s one area of the fight where almost everyone agrees Eubank Jnr has the upper-hand it’s in the speed department. Even a cursory glance at the Brighton fighter’s social media accounts will show you that he has blistering hand speed. Of course, when it comes to the famous Groves’ jab, he’s certainly no slouch.
Are his combinations as slick? Probably not, but there’s no doubt he’s elusive and capable of catching opponents as they’re stepping in. Now, if we’re looking at speed and power as a single package, Eubank Jnr would get the nod.
Based on that assessment, 13/8 on Jnr by KO, TKO or DQ is a fair price. However, if you favour pure power, 11/4 for Groves to win by the same method could be the value bet of the fight.
Does Experience Win on the Night?
For us though, the real tale of the tape lies in the scalps each fighter has claimed. If we’re being critical, Eubank’s recent opponents haven’t been world-class.
Tom Doran, Renold Quinlan, Arthur Abraham and Avni Yildirim were all dealt with fairly comfortably. However, the danger with beating this level of competition is that it can create a false sense of security. Groves may have more miles on the clock, but they’re miles earned against some of the best in the world.
Leaving aside the Froch fights, American Badou Jack is the only other man to beat Groves and many would argue that result should have went the Brit’s way.
Based on experience and competition alone, Groves clearly has the edge and, in a fight of this magnitude, that could be the difference. Up until now, Eubank Jnr has had a fairly sheltered career. Indeed, the one elite-level fighter he took on cruised to a comfortable win with very little training.
Every boxer needs to have a breakout performance and this could well be Jnr’s time to move into the upper echelons of the sport. But, if we’re putting our money on the line, I’d back Groves to upset the odds and come away with the win on February 17.