By Steve Bateson: George Groves completely outclassed Chris Eubank Jnr in Manchester on Saturday night, defending his WBA Super Middleweight Championship and advancing to the World Boxing Super Series final in the process.
All the talk pre-fight was how Eubank’s engine and apparent "power" would cause Groves all kinds of trouble down the stretch but somebody forgot to tell Groves, he had a total grip on the bout from the opening bell.
Groves’ jab, his most dangerous weapon, had him on the front foot from the outset and he dictated the pace and the distance throughout. Eubank was wild and trying to rush his opponent into the corner but finding little success. There seemed to be a knockdown in round two as Eubank Jnr touched down after a punch landed but the referee ruled a slip.
Eubank Jnr was cut over the eye from an accidental clash of heads in round three but he did land a solid left hook whilst Groves was pushed back on the ropes, arguably his best shot of the first half of the fight. Groves continued to stick behind his jab, working a terrific gameplan, and he had no trouble countering his foe every single time he attempted to step into the inside.
Eubank was cutting a forlorn figure and the frustration was clear to see. It was hard to see what his gameplan was because Groves was nullifying his bullying tactics and he had no backup. Every time he tried to rush Groves on the ropes he was tied up and pushed away, it was a truly fantastic performance from the defending champion.
Eubank’s engine did pull him into contention in round eight and both men scored with vicious hooks as the fight caught fire in the trenches. But Groves’ punches still looked heavier and more dangerous, he was in complete control and never once looked in trouble from anything that came his way. Eubank’s pre-fight bravado was not backed up in the slightest, he showed toughness but his credentials on this level are now in serious question. Groves’ experience and class showed through and he silenced those who believed he didn’t belong in there with an opponent who had proved nothing.
Both men were tiring from the pace but Eubank was still out of range far too often and allowing Groves to clinically pick him apart. Blood continued to stream down the side of Eubank’s face as he desperately bombarded forward with no clear idea of what his end game was. Groves continued to feint and duck, showing the levels of class between the two fighters, and even in round twelve when Groves’ shoulder appeared dislocated he was still able to avoid most of Eubank’s attacks. Jnr poured it on and it was a violent, bloody finish but he could not land the telling, game-changing punch that he needed so badly to turn the fight in his favour.
Eubank was comprehensively defeated here by a superior boxer and he will need to go back to the drawing board and work on plenty of fundamentals, including appointing a proper trainer and actually following the advice of his corner. This should be a humbling experience for him but time will tell on that. Groves’ shoulder will need to be checked out but he heads into the final to meet the winner of Callum Smith and Jurgen Braehmer.
Scorecards read: 117-112, 116-112, 115-113 (scorecards were far too close)
Ryan Walsh vs Isaac Lowe
Ryan Walsh and Issac Lowe battled to a fantastic twelve round draw for the British Featherweight Championship in the co-main event.
Lowe was quick out of the blocks and immediately on the front foot, his rapid fire jab and movement taking the champion completely by surprise. Both men were swinging for the hills in the opening stanza but then Lowe began to box and move, bamboozling Walsh with his tremendous speed and combinations to head and body. Walsh was looking a little shellshocked by what his challenger was offering but slowly but surely he started to make his way into the contest.
Lowe’s attacks were certainly eye catching but defensively he was showing lapses and Walsh was gaining success with overhand right counters. Lowe’s movement was still a problem up to the halfway point, however, and Walsh was showing signs of desperation at times as he struggled to close the gap and pin Lowe down but the challenger’s tank was starting to deplete. Lowe’s legs were heavier and more and more frequently he was being dragged into exchanges with the champion, forced to absorb powerful left and right hooks from a resurgent Walsh.
Walsh seemed to be fighting an uphill battle early but his heart and determination should be applauded as he stuck to his task manfully and dragged himself back into the bout, displaying champion’s spirit as he wore Lowe down and imposed his own will on the fight. Both men were now standing in the pocket and fighting fire with fire, Lowe quicker and throwing more punches but Walsh’s accuracy was telling and he was finding his challenger much easier to hit. The pace was draining but neither man was willing to give and inch as they stayed toe to toe and battled to the final bell.
It was a terrific domestic fight and a brilliant warm up for the main event. Lowe’s lack of experience in twelve round fights may have found him out here as he did not preserve enough energy for down the stretch whilst Walsh timed his tactics perfectly. A re-match between both would be fantastic, there would be no complaints, however it is a very competitive division domestically and the likes of Reece Bellotti will be waiting for the next shot at the Lonsdale belt.
Scorecards read: 115-114 Lowe, 116-114 Walsh, 115-115 even
Tommy Langford vs Jack Arnfield
Tommy Langford successfully defended his British Middleweight crown with a unanimous points victory over Jack Arnfield.
Early doors it was a battle of jabs between the two rangy boxers, both looking to utilise their height to gain a foothold in the fight and it was even in success ratio. In round two Langford started to target the body of the Blackpool man and then scored a beautiful right straight as he stepped in to halt Arnfield’s retreat but still it was difficult to separate them. Arnfield scored a solid right hand counter in round three, catching the champion as he stepped in to attack, whilst Langford was continuing to target the body and letting his combinations go.
A right hook to the jawline of Arnfield was the highlight of a quiet fourth round but that sparked the challenger into life and he arguably had the better of round five, starting to get involved in the inside and having more success. Both fighters went to the body in round six but Langford’s combination punching was catching the eye whilst Arnfield preferred the single shots. The champion was showing quality head movement and evasiveness, using the ring impressively, and his output increased from round seven before stunning Arnfield again in round eight with a heavy right hook in the pocket.
Both fighters were definitely showing fatigue as the fight entered the championship rounds and again it resumed the nip and tuck kind of action of the opening stanzas. Arnfield’s jab was still his most potent weapon but too often he was caught waiting on the outside which allowed Langford to get his shots off and give the impression he was the far busier volume puncher. Every exchange was ended with Langford having the final say and for most observers it was becoming clear that Arnfield needed a knockout in the twelfth round to win the contest but for a man with six knockouts from twenty five wins it seemed extremely unlikely.
Langford (20-1 with 6 KO’s) was the clear victor at the end of twelve entertaining rounds of boxing and will no doubt be out defending his British title again sometime in late spring/early summer.
Scorecards read: 116-113, 116-113, 117-113
Zach Parker vs Adasat Rodriguez
Zach Parker stormed through Adasat Rodriguez in two rounds of their Super Middleweight contest. Parker, the substitute to tonight’s main event, started the first round working off his jab and looked in control of the pace. Rodriguez was pressing well but in round two he walked into a crisp left hook that completely scrambled his senses. Parker followed up with a flurry and soon his Spanish opponent was on the deck. Rodriguez climbed up and beat the count but soon ate another huge left hook, his mouthpiece flying through the air. Two follow up right hooks and another left put Rodriguez down again and prompted the referee to step in.
Parker (15-0 with 11 KO’s) is awaiting an opponent to contest the now vacant British Super Middleweight Championship with after Rocky Fielding gave it up earlier this week. Parker carries power and is a dangerous, rangy puncher he will be more than a handful for anyone at domestic level at the very least.