GEORGE GROVES, the WBA world champion, will fight Callum Smith in the super-middleweight final of the World Boxing Super Series. Originally slated for June, this final will have to take place by late August or early September at the latest.
There had been doubts about whether Groves would be fit to contest this bout, with beaten opponent Chris Eubank Jr being considered as a replacement for him. Groves won his semi-final over Eubank, taking a points decision. But in dramatic circumstances the WBA champion dislocated his shoulder in the last round. He’s been battling to regain fitness since then.
Groves insisted, “The injury recovery has been fine, it is just like we said it would be. It was a dislocated shoulder that required surgery to stabilise the joint.”
“As is the nature of injuries, especially the type of injury that George suffered, getting an exact recovery date is nearly impossible,” said Comosa AG’s Head of Boxing, Kalle Sauerland. “We have been clear that the tournament has to finish within a certain timeframe, but we also realise that Groves vs Smith is the most ideal final. By pushing the super-middleweight final date back as far as we can, we are giving fans the biggest chance of seeing this incredible match-up.”
Groves has become the star of the tournament. He knocked out Jamie Cox in the quarter-final and in Eubank beat his most high profile rival in the competition.
“It is nice to get a provisional date,” said Groves. “We have got something to work towards now. I have been in the gym for a while now, so when we get an exact date we can focus in.
“We know about Smith, we have seen him for a long time and obviously I boxed his brother [Paul]. We are supremely confident of getting the win and getting a good win. We already have some good sparring lined up, fighters similar to Smith. I am looking forward to getting back to work and winning the Ali Trophy.”
Callum Smith has progressed steadily through to the final. He beat Erik Skoglund in his Liverpool hometown to advance to the semi-final. He faced a sudden change of opponent in his semi-final in Germany when Juergen Braehmer withdrew and was replaced by Dutch kickboxer Nieky Holzken at short notice. Smith came through with a cautious points victory but with their final now confirmed it means the two best super-middleweights in the tournament will box for the Muhammad Ali trophy.
“It is great to finally to get the fight,” said Smith. “It is the one I have wanted for a long time. I am really happy it is going to be Groves rather than anyone else, it is the fight the fans want too.
“I’ve been ticking over in the gym and staying prepared, but now I can switch on and aim towards a late summer date. Now that we have the date, even a rough one, I’m excited.
“The fact that the final of the Ali Trophy is against George and for his title, I am made up. I have been waiting for a world title fight and feel like I have been unlucky at missing out on opportunities, but now I’ve finally got it.”