By John J. Raspanti
Languishing on the ropes is rarely a good thing in boxing. It worked for Muhammad Ali nearly 33 years ago against George Foreman, but remember, we’re talking about “The Greatest.”
Ali might have had a pretty face, but inside his chest beat the heart of a courageous warrior. Plus his chin was laced with cement. Foreman went off on Ali, connecting with a number of hellacious shots. Ali took them and fought back—eventually stopping the heavily-favored Foreman in eight rounds.
George “The Saint” Groves doesn’t have the skill of Ali, or the chin. If anything, his whiskers are suspect. Matters weren’t helped when little-known Jamie Cox buckled Groves’ knees in the first round of their fight last Saturday.
Groves went on to stop Cox with a shot to the solar plexus, but his uneven performance must have sent quivers up the backs of his supporters.
“He got a bit ragged early on,” admitted trainer Sean Mcguigan after the fight.
Groves has been knocked out twice during his career by Carl Froch-once controversially, and six months later, emphatically.
His first fight with Froch was a donnybrook, as Groves, a heavy underdog going into the bout, floored Froch in the opening stanza. Froch rose and battled, but was clearly behind when referee Howard Foster stopped the match in round nine. The ensuing uproar forced Froch to take on Groves again.
The rematch happened six months later. Through seven rounds, the match was close, but in round eight, Groves made a mistake. As he backed into the ropes with his left-hand dangling dangerously low, he set himself to fire a left hook.
Froch feinted, drawing Groves’ eyes to his own left and let fly with a heat-seeking right hand. The aught punch landed flush on Groves’ chin and dropped him with a thud. Referee Charlie Fitch immediately waved off the contest at 2:34 seconds of round eight.
Groves, 29, was back to fighting off the ropes last Saturday night. He was caught with numerous punches. Has he peaked at such a young age? It happens. Cox doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Eubank Jr. But Eubank, 27, hasn’t faced anyone with the boxing ability of Groves.
Both fighters have great faith in their abilities.
“I will show the world why I am so confident,” Eubank told www.telegraph.co.uk. “A win by knockout against Groves is putting it politely. I’ll annihilate him.”
“He has improved, but hasn’t boxed anyone on my level, and if I box like I did [against Cox], he doesn’t stand a chance. I boxed tremendously,” said Groves.
Words are cheap, actions are real. We’ll see when the two fighters meet in the ring. A word to the wise, Groves better stay off the ropes.