In the most eagerly-anticipated fight in the U.K. thus far this year, George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr engaged in a robust fight before a capacity crowd at the Manchester Arena. Groves, the defending WBA 168-pound “super” champion successfully defended his title and advanced to the championship round of the WBSS super middleweight tournament with a unanimous decision. The scores were 117-112, 116-112, and 115-113.
It was a messy fight with a lot of mauling. The pivotal moment came in round three when Groves opened a nasty cut above the corner of Eubank’s right eye. The cut deepened as the bout progressed and clearly bothered Eubank, although the referee never thought it necessary to call in the ringside doctor for a closer look.
Eubank did his best work when he was able to close the distance, but Groves with his effective head moment was able to negate Eubank’s bull rushes. The fighters went toe-to-toe in the eighth and again in the last two rounds when Eubank was desperately throwing for the fences. There were no knockdowns.
Groves, the top seed, improved to 28-3 with his seventh straight win. Eubank Jr (26-2), whose father served as his chief second, saw his winning streak halted at eight.
Up next for George Groves is the winner of next week’s bout between Liverpool’s undefeated (23-0) Callum Smith and grizzled veteran Juergen Braehmer, a former WBO and WBA light heavyweight champion. The fight is in Nuremberg, Germany, where Braehmer will have the home field advantage.
The WBSS 168-pound championship match is tentatively slated for the O2 Arena in London on June 2. However, there were rumors after today’s fight that Groves may have fractured his shoulder which could play hobs with the well-laid plans of the WBSS organizers.
Groves vs. Eubank Jr was braced by a pair of domestic title fights. In a well-matched middleweight contest, Tommy Langford, whose lone defeat came at the hands of rugged Avtandil Khurtsidze, improved to 20-1 with a unanimous decision over Jack Arnfield (25-3). Langford was supposed to fight Eubank Jr on Oct. 22, but Eubank pulled out with a suspicious injury. Also, Ryan Walsh (22-2-2) and Isaac Lowe (14-0-3) battled to a draw in a 12-round featherweight contest.
In another bout of note, light heavyweight Sebastian Eubank, the younger brother of Chris Eubank Jr, was victorious in his pro debut, winning a 4-round decision over Polish slug Kamil Kulczyk. The fight was delayed when Eubank arrived late to the arena and was initially denied admittance.
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