Photo credit: Tom Jenkins
Thousands of words have been written about George Groves this past decade, I’ve written a few along the way, and I suspect none of them have ever succeeded in defining the enigmatic Super-Middleweight. Whilst writers and fans wrestle to place him in the convenience of a fixed position in our catalogue of stereotypes, the current WBA Super Super-Middleweight champion stays occupied and continues to overcome adversity and collect scalps in entertaining bouts.
In defeating Jamie Cox by fourth round knockout tonight, the 29-year-old Londoner confirmed the much assumed and much anticipated World Series Boxing semi-final against Chris Eubank Junior and delighted a good crowd at the Wembley Arena in the process.
The x-rated right hand to the body that removed all of challenger Jamie Cox’s breath, will and ability to box on curtailed the trajectory of a fight that had threatened to become an unexpected classic. It brought down the curtain on another high quality production for ITV4 box-office too and added more lustre to a format cynics and sceptics were convinced couldn’t work. One notable facet of this first class production was the absence of adverts before or during fights, which is exactly as it should be of course, please take note Sky Sports Boxing.
Accepted wisdom, given the obvious disparity in size, held that Jamie Cox would start the fight aggressively, closing distance and pouring on pressure from the southpaw stance on the inside. Surprisingly, Cox was circumspect in the opening round, and their respective stances; Cox boxing to his full height and Groves more crouched to maximise the power on his right hand, obscured the natural size difference between the two.
There were thudding moments of success for both throughout the four rounds, but the left hand, from the Southpaw stance, Cox thrust through Groves’ guard toward the end of the opener built the challenger’s confidence. Meanwhile, Groves landed shuddering shots on Cox who succumbed to his natural urge to fight and in doing so neglected the tactical plan, of leading the champion to later rounds, conjured by his team. It was a plan based on the assumption Groves’ would fade, as he has been perceived to do in previous 12 round fights, and that Cox’s speed and superior stamina would prove helpful, or maybe even decisive.
Groves and Cox traded heavily in the third, Cox’s shorter arms pumped away like pistons from both flanks and succeeded in forcing the champion into a corner from which he either couldn’t, or opted not to, escape. It was frantic stuff and Cox looked, momentarily, as though he may find one perfect hook and make the breakthrough of a knockdown. No such breakthrough came and though Cox revelled in the action, his corner clearly wanted him to box to plan and not expend too much energy chasing or engaging Groves early.
The finishing blow, a right hand brought up beneath Cox’s outstretched right hook landed to the ribs and, once the air left Cox’s lungs and the pain rushed in, it crumpled the proud 31-year old challenger for the full count.
It was fun and pulsating while it lasted. Cox, I hope, will return at Middleweight, and seek titles there soon while he has this solid camp behind him and a sense of direction and progress. The WBA’s champion, a belt Groves won in his fourth attempt at various versions of the Super-Middleweight title, will now meet Chris Eubank Junior, who was ringside tonight, in an unconfirmed venue in January 2018.
One presumes Eubank Junior, who knocked out Avni Yildirim with a beautiful left-hook on the end of a meaty combination last week, will have seen lots of openings his hand speed and combination punching will enjoy exploiting. Groves continues his very individual journey through the division and now adds the latest domestic rivalry to a career defined by them thus far. Previous entanglements with James DeGale and two subsequent fights with Carl Froch will be those for which he is remembered.
Against Cox, he demonstrated his evolution from elusive, back foot boxing on the counter to a much more solidified puncher who remains within distance and looks for power shots all of the time. A fact encouraged excessively by the diminutive nature of tonight’s opponent perhaps and Groves’ own destiny beyond the Super-Middleweight limit.
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