Thursday, May 11, 2023

Exclusive Interview George Groves

Press Release: May 11, 2023 By / Liam Solomon - In an exclusive interview with Neue Online Casinos, former WBA super-middleweight champion George Groves gives his insight into Eubank Jr’s career and his thoughts on the Smith loss and upcoming rematch.

Groves also gives his exclusive opinion on the heavyweight division.

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Highlights from the interview:

Eubank JR might’ve had concussion going into the first Smith fight

Smith should be confident getting another win over Eubank JR

It’s a must win fight for Eubank JR

If Eubank JR wants to win he can’t fight like trainer Roy Jones

Prime Tyson Fury would beat prime David Haye

Full Transcript:

Question: With the Eubank Jr vs Smith rematch now set for June 17th, do you foresee a different outcome to the first fight?

George Groves: „I was there commentating on the first fight that night in Manchester and I thought Eubank was the favourite going into it and I picked him as the winner. I could see how a lot of people were making a case for Liam Smith, who’s a vastly experienced boxer and boxed at a high level as an amateur. He’s from a fighting family and had been in a pro gym for close to 10 years at the time. He’s a former world champion and always gave a really good account of himself and never been exposed.

I think the only time he’s been stopped was against Canelo actually. But I thought Eubank, who’s boxed up at super middleweight, he’s a very strong fighter with a high workrate and great punch output, punches correctly, decent punch power and great hand speed and up until that point a decent chin as well. He boxed me a super middleweight when I was No.1 in the world at that time. He boxed James DeGale, who was probably not firing on all cylinders but he’s been in there with Arthur Abraham and many others. But the first Smith fight was confusing. I definitely don’t think it was the best Eubank. Eubank didn’t look quite like himself. The resistance evaporated. He has to figure out why that happened, put his finger on it and make sure it doesn’t happen next time.

There’s an array of reasons why you can be flat on fight night and your punch resistance might not be there or your punch output or power aren’t right. He might have got camp wrong or picked up a slight virus in the build up, or misjudged the weight making. He might have got the weight down too early and been too lean. He might’ve taken a knock in sparring, which Smith was kind of hinting at in the press conference when they announced the second fight. Maybe he went into the fight with some sort of concussion, you always hope not of course. And you always hope trainers are always aware of that but there’s a lot on the line and fighters sometimes keep things under their hat or are maybe in a bit of denial of it.“

Q: Will the way Smith finished the first bout so comprehensively have left scars on the psyche of Eubank Jr?

GG: „Yes potentially. I thought Eubank would go in a different direction. I know he had the rematch and I know there would probably be a decent amount of money in it for him and it would’ve had to be on pay-per-view so it’s back on Sky Box Office so it has to get promoted right for that. The Conor Benn fight is a difficult one to make. It won’t be made in the UK so will have to be made abroad and is that the right fight for him? What weight could they do it at? Will there be a backlash from boxing fans because of it?

I don’t know how he evaluates Conor Benn and Liam Smith, but if those two boxed each other, you would say Smith would win comfortably. He’s naturally the bigger guy, more experienced and on a good run. Conor Benn is a lot less experienced and having a bit of a torrid time right now mentally. But Smith should be confident. What you see is what you get with him, he’s not going to reinvent the wheel at this stage. He can change and adapt subtly, but I’m not sure he’ll need to do too much differently.“

Q: Eubank recalled Roy Jones Jr to train him for the first bout, was that a mistake in hindsight?

GG: „I saw Eubank recently and he said he flying to Vegas and he said he was going to train out there so I don’t know if he’s bringing in Jones, who’s usually based in Florida or someone else who’s based in Vegas or whether he just wants to get out of the UK for this camp. Vegas is a tough place to live and train, but if you can put yourself in the hurt locker out there where it’s dog eat dog, then maybe that’s what he’s trying to get back to. But it’s an absolute must win fight for him regardless.“

Q: Is Eubank’s ego stopping him from realising his full potential or has he simply maxed out his talent?

GG: „He’s always been a tremendous athlete but that was almost at the expense of being a skillful fighter. He didn’t have a stellar amateur career, he didn’t have that pedigree so he brought in Roy Jones to teach him a thing or two and I think maybe Jones did make improvements but for Eubank I don’t think you want to get stuck in the middle of both. You don’t want to try and fight like Roy Jones Jr when essentially you just want to sit in the pocket and let your hands go.

If I’m working with Eubank now then I’d be saying ’sink your feet into the floor, sit in range don’t take any shots but don’t try to be clever and box off the back foot‘ because Liam Smith he is cool under pressure and fights with a high guard and has a go to chin. So you want to break him up downstairs with body shots and then impose your will on him in the second half of the fight. If Eubank is going to box off the back foot and try to play the jab game, then Smith could come up short because Eubank has got quite fast hands and a height and reach advantage.

It was weird how much the shots from Smith affected Eubank last time because they weren’t huge, mega shots and Smith’s not known for being a one punch knockout artist and coming up from light middleweight. So if his punch resistance is catching up with him as the years have gone on or something else has gone on, either way he needs to address it somehow.“

Q: It looks like Joshua vs Wilder is being lined up in December. As the saying goes, styles make fights so could you see that be a thriller?

GG: “I think that’s a great fight. Two big men who can punch hard and essentially that’s what the heavyweight division is about. When they both had the belts a few years back it might have been a bigger fight but it’s still going to get people intrigued now. The fighter who comes out on top is the one who doesn’t try to be too clever and just sticks with what they do and what they know. Both fighters have been guilty of that in the past when people have said to Wilder ‘you’re just a big puncher, you can’t box, there’s nothing else to you’ or they’ve said to Joshua ‘you’re too robotic, you’re too stiff, there’s so many elements missing from your game.’ They’ve both been dropped. They’ve both been off the floor to win at different times.

You’d think someone’s going to land some dynamite and then someone’s not going to get up. It’s a fight I’d love to see. Joshua punches very well but has that slight element of amateurish style where the flow isn’t quite there and I know that’s partly due to his size but spending some time out in the States with some American trainers now might make a difference and get the flow going a little bit better while also making him a harder target to punch and making him sharper and smoother in his shot selection.

Deontay Wilder is training with Malik Scott, who has a very philosophical approach to boxing and you can see that filtering through but we know Wider has a dynamite right hand. There’s been periods in fights where Wilder couldn’t let that shot go like against Luiz Ortiz where he was losing round after round and then right hand came out and it was game over. It’s a risky fight for both but it’s one we can all really sink our teeth into if it does get made.”

Q: Tony Bellew reckons peak David Haye would have beaten Tyson Fury. Do you agree?

GG: “I was in David Haye’s gym at the time when that fight was made. That fight was made several times but Haye had to pull out once with a cut in the week of the fight. And at that point, if Haye was on form I’d have picked him to win that fight. This was before Fury vs Klitschko. Fury was viewed very differently at that time to how he is now. Fury had been beaten by David Price in the ABAs and wasn’t selected to go to the Olympics, then turned pro with Mick Hennessey and fought on Channel 5. He really had to work hard to get noticed and this is before the rise of Anthony Joshua.

Now any sort of heavyweight with promise will have the spotlight shone on them. Back then, with Lennox Lewis retired it was Danny Williams leading from the front and it wasn’t exactly a golden era. Hayes would be giving away a lot of natural size but he’s got those lightning fast hands and could definitely whack. I wouldn’t pick a prime David Haye over a prime Tyson Fury purely because of the size difference and he would be too smart. But at that time I can see where Bellew is coming from yeah.”

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