George Groves: The Nearly Man No Longer

In finally winning his coveted world title against Fedor Chudinov last year on the Kell Brook v Errol Spence Jr undercard, George Groves forever lost the near man tag.

That fight at Bramall Lane in Sheffield was his 4th and surely last attempt to win a world title.

Early on his career I couldn’t warm to him, I found some of his antics a big turn off, childish even, but nobody could fail not to admire his resilience in overcoming his previous setbacks in finally getting his hands on a world title.

Groves boxed the fight of his life in his first fight with Carl Froch. Clearly dominating the early rounds, dropping Froch in the process, Groves looked the likely winner. Froch though started to get going and hurt Groves bad before the referee waved it off, but the timing of the stoppage sparked major controversy.

My opinion hasn’t changed since fight night, Howard Foster’s stoppage was premature, but possibly only by a few seconds. Groves was starting to fade he’d been hurt and Froch was on the ascendency, Froch looked on the verge of a clear stoppage.

However that is only my opinion, Groves may well have recovered, all parties were denied a clear definitive outcome. The controversy probably helped Groves, without it he might have lost clearly, and he wouldn’t have got his rematch. Groves fought to a level he had never reached previously and probably since.

The rematch was set in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. I picked Froch, I thought Groves couldn’t box as well again and Froch couldn’t box as bad a second time.

Froch was more switched on and didn’t allow Groves the success of their first fight. However Groves after a slower start, I thought was starting to come on and the fight was finely balanced until that right hand landed.

A 3rd world title shot also ended in defeat in a razor-thin points loss to the excellent Badou Jack. Groves recovered from an early knockdown, to push Jack close, really close and I thought he was unlucky not to go home a champion.

In the Chudinov fight, it looked as though the job was too much for him again, Chudinov looked so strong, but body punches did the damage and set him up for a famous victory in Sheffield.

The bookies and most pundits favour Eubank Jr this Saturday in Manchester, but as we have seen before, count Groves out at your peril.

I interviewed the veteran broadcaster Al Bernstein a year ago and I asked him how good is Eubank Jr, he said he’s good but not as good as he or his father thinks he is.

This weekend the fists of George Groves might also tell Eubank Jr that he is indeed not as good as he thinks.

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