Who’s idea was it to have an all-British domestic dust up in the King Abdullah Sports Stadium, Saudi Arabia? Even King Abdullah himself must realise Jeddah is not an equal distance between Liverpool and London.
George Groves and Callum Smith meet this Friday in their delayed World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight final, in what promises to be an intriguing fight.
It’s annoying, though hardly surprising, this contest is deemed yet another Pay Per View offering. Pretty much the only bouts not slapped with an extra charge these days are those dour NextGen shows – and whoever Lawrence Okolie is cuddling next.
But, if there’s one fighter I don’t mind paying to watch, it’s George Groves.
I have to nail my colours to the mast here and declare myself a huge fan of the Londoner.
He has thoroughly entertained in and out of the ring over the last decade.
The Hammersmith man is exciting to watch, game as a pebble and deserves to be where he is right now. That’s at the pinnacle of his profession, not fighting in Saudi Arabia.
A world champion at the third time of asking, Groves has been involved in some memorable fights – and some top level trash talk.
Who can forget the mind games Groves deployed on James DeGale in the build up to their British title fight back in 2011?
DeGale: “Come and fight me George, There’s NO WAY you can outbox me.”
Groves: “Well, what’s your problem with me trying to do it then?”
We’ll long remember how he got under (and stayed under) Carl Froch’s skin.
And what about that beautifully timed right hand Froch walked on to in the first round of their first fight? And Round six, when he threw everything at Froch, and connected with just about everything. Credit to Froch, he took one hell of a beating and still came through. James DeGale’s trainer Jim McDonnell once labelled Froch as “Just a tough kid from Nottingham.” Well, he was a bit more than that.
The Cobra will never ever admit it, but I feel he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Groves. As much skill as you have, you still need a nemesis in boxing, a rivalry, a defining fight, something that ignites the public’s interest – and boy, he got all that and more in George Groves.
‘The Saint’ initiated and marketed the rematch almost single-handedly, ultimately providing the Nottingham man his legacy – that over worn Wembley anecdote and more than enough money in the bank to buy half of Nottingham, which I think he’s actually done.
Naturally I favour Groves to win this final, assuming his shoulder is fully healed.
Callum Smith has long been held in high regard, widely recognised as the best of the batch of boxing brothers, but I feel his career has stagnated over the last couple of years.
At the age of 28 (just two years younger than Groves) his first world title fight seems a long time coming. This will be Groves’ seventh title fight, so it goes without saying Groves holds a huge advantage in terms of experience.
I believe Groves is much the better boxer of the two, and that if this fight goes the distance he will have too much nous for his opponent . The Londoner’s pugilistic skills are often overlooked as he has a tendency to trade with his opponents when the mood suits.
Groves has proved in the past that he has the discipline – and boxing skills – to execute a game plan. Let’s not forget he outboxed Degale, an Olympic gold medalist, and completely nullified a dangerous fighter in Chris Eubank. In fact, he made him look like a complete novice.
Smith can hit hard, as he demonstrated when knocking out Rocky Fielding inside a round, his best performance to date. Often he seems to switch off against inferior opposition. George Groves is far from inferior opposition.
In this tournament Smith is yet to hit the heights. Erik Skoglund landed his jab with alarming regularity in their quarter final and in the semi Smith looked far from the polished world class performer everyone in his extended family would have you believe he is.
The challenger is a huge unit, an upright huge unit. That has advantages in terms of reach and disadvantages in terms of being a BIG target.
We all know Groves’s hits hard…we will see how Smith’s chin absorbs that power, because he will be hit with something that is way harder than anything he has experienced to date.
Against 34 year-old Dutch kick boxer, Nieky Holzken, a man with just 13 professional fights to his name, Smith plodded to victory in wholly unimpressive fashion.
Groves is a massive step up in class on those two previous opponents.
Groves on points looks the way to go here. We recommend buying Groves at 60 on the Spreadex binary market. It makes up at 100 for a Groves win and 0 if he doesn’t.
On the fixed odds market Spreadex have Groves at 8-13 to win and 13-8 to win on points.
As always, please only bet what you can afford