Is Eubank a TRUE super-middleweight?
Success depends on a fighter’s preparation.
Making weight and how it might affect performance is a bit of an unknown quantity. A bad weight cut can have a negative impact on a fighters’ performance, punching power, durability and most importantly health.
Despite this, boxers choose short-term weight cutting and refuelling strategies to be as big and strong as possible for the weight class.
At Boxing Science we put in place evidence-based and well-planned weight-making strategies to ensure boxers are healthy and achieve optimal performance.
But many people think that Chris Eubank Jr. is more suited to middleweight, the category he previously campaigned and won the British title in. These beliefs were affirmed as “Next Gen” posted a video on social media six weeks prior to fight night of him being under the super-middleweight limit of 168lbs.
This could have been taken post-training, where Eubank would’ve likely lost body mass through sweat. Our boxers have an average sweat rate of 2.5 to 3 L/per hour. Let’s say he trained for 90 minutes and didn’t replace any of his fluid losses he might have lost up to 4.5 L or 4.5 kg.
NOTE: Without seeing this ourselves, we don’t know whether these numbers are correct, it’s just to give you an insight of what might be going on. Let’s not eliminate the probability of this being a mind-game.
We think it’s more likely that Eubank Jr. will be walking around at just 1.5% above his fighting weight.
At Boxing Science, we would encourage our boxers to be within 10-12% of their body mass during the key stages of training camp, steadily bringing this down to 5% for acute weight cutting strategies during fight week.
This will allow our boxers to make weight safely, along with other measures we put in place to monitor their health.
Eubank Jr. will have his reasons for being at this weight. We presume that he’ll want to be light to have a speed advantage and maintain his engine over 12 rounds. Extra body mass can affect both of these if you haven’t adapted.
However, there are some disadvantages to being on the weight too early.
- Refuelling for fight night – Being close to the weight or under the weight early can limit the increase in Eubank Jr’s body mass, whereas Groves will be able to become the bigger man on fight night.
- Calorie Intake– When an athlete reduces body mass/body fat, it’s likely that their metabolic rate may reduce. If Eubank is purposefully maintaining his body mass at 166lbs, he will be on a low calorie diet. This may limit how much he can fuel up for sessions, affecting his performance and, in turn, reducing the physiological adaptations.
- Strength– At Boxing Science, our athletes record bigger lifts when they are heavier – this is quite common across strength sports. Our challenge then is to maintain that strength in relative and absolute values. Being on the weight too early will effect the adaptations from his strength and conditioning training.
- Risk of Illness and Injury– Being on a calorie deficit to be on a lower body mass for an extended amount of time can increase the likelihood of illness and injury.
What does this mean for the fight?
We expect Groves to be MUCH bigger on fight night. This will give Groves a big advantage in punching force, strength on the inside and durability against his smaller opposition.
Furthermore, Eubank might struggle with his fitness during the fight as being on the weight too early might have affected his ability to optimise physical adaptations during camp.
Being on the weight this early is a clear tactic from Eubank Jr to optimise his speed, so he’ll look to make that his advantage on fight night. Expect him to throw ‘punches in bunches’ when he’s within close range of Groves.
Groves may look to tie Eubank up and hold him to stop these combinations, this tactic and his superior weight advantage will tire Eubank Jr. out.
Is over-confidence an issue?
Watching interviews and the recent ITV documentary, it seems that both boxers are extremely confident going into the fight. Both Groves and Eubank have been convincing the public that this is going to be a ‘walk in the park’…
But haven’t we heard this before?
Confidence and self-efficacy are important to successful sports performance, but it all depends on where they are getting it from.
Groves’ confidence comes from… more experience, superior weight advantage, knowledge of Eubank’s faults and the skills he has to exploit them.
Eubank’s confidence comes from… His hand speed, freshness, and his rock-solid chin. He also claims that Groves won’t be able to keep up with his work-rate, and his ‘durability’ is questionable following his ‘one-punch’ knockout defeat to Carl Froch in 2014.
So both show that they gain confidence from their own skills, past experiences and the weaknesses they see in their opponent.
However, the total disregard for each other could mean that both boxers risk becoming overconfident. You’ve seen this before in both fighters, when Eubank Jr. came up against Billy Joe Saunders and when Groves fought Froch, both times they come unstuck.
Self-confidence and self-efficacy are both massively important for successful sports performance. However, it can be an athletes downfall when it becomes excessive.
What does this mean for the fight?
If this isn’t just your normal trash talk, and both fighters enter the ring over-confident, expect some complacency from both boxers. It could turn this fight into an absolute barn-burner!
Eubank may disregard Groves’ jab and forcefulness at distance, he might not be afraid to take a punch to work on the inside.
Groves believes he’s too big and too strong for Eubank, he may decide to go toe-to-toe when Eubank is on the inside… this is something that Groves did when facing Jamie Cox in his quarter-final fight.
Groves’ Jab vs Eubank’s Inside Game…
According to Compubox, Groves has one of the best jabs in the business with a 24.5% connect average; this places Groves just outside the top 10 in the business which includes Gennady Golovkin (33.5%) and Kell Brook (27.5%).
Interestingly enough, former Eubank foe Billy Joe Saunders has a great jab rate, connecting 28% of the jabs he throws.
So, Eubank’s sole defeat and last close fight came against someone who has a fantastic jab. Let’s have a look at how Eubank dealt with this in comparison to his performance against Abraham.
Eubank Jr. opted to prioritise his power punches when coming up against Billy Joe Saunders, and seemingly neglected his jab.
However, it should be noted that Billy Joe is a southpaw fighter, this may have deterred Eubank Jr. away from utilising the jab.
He threw and landed a lot more against Abraham, but the connect percentage was still low at 19%.
With the increased amount of jabs against Abraham and the neglect of the jab against Saunders suggests that Eubank Jr. may struggle to throw / land jabs against highly skilled operators.
Without an effective jab, you can’t see Eubank Jr. attempting to box Groves at long range.
Pundits claim that Groves’ jabbing ability took a dip following his split with Adam Booth, however, there seems to be a resurgence of this key attribute with new trainer Shane McGuigan.
In the fights that we’ve analysed, Groves landed 21% of jabs thrown, 3% lower than the impressive numbers from Compubox. However, the number suggests that he still prioritises his jab taking up 55% of his punches.
Against Eduard Gutknecht the jab was re-established, landing a massive 36% of the 449 jabs thrown. Gutknecht constantly came forward, something that we think Eubank Jr. will look to do on February 17.
Groves also used his jab well against Fedor Chudinov and countered well against Jamie Cox, both come forward fighters with high guards. Eubank Jr., on the other hand, is probably more aggressive with a pretty low guard, meaning he may be more susceptible to Groves’ punches, especially his jab.
The Boxing Science Prediction
Before making the final prediction, we’d like to commend both boxers on what they have achieved in boxing so far and look forward to them continuing their great careers following this fight.
This is a hard one to call, due to the momentum and athleticism of Eubank against the experience and forcefulness of Groves.
Following the analysis, we…..
Expect Groves to ….. Work at range and on the back foot, look to throw stinging jabs and land the right-hand counter. He will use his size on the inside to stop Eubank Jr’s attacks.
Expect Eubank to…. Boxing on the outside and keep his distance, then look to make quick moves to work on the inside. Expect him to throw six, eight maybe even 10 punches at a time.
The outcome… our scientific prediction is that Groves will win on points, maybe even a late stoppage.
We believe that the work-rate will not be an issue; therefore we favour the size advantage and ring craft possessed by George Groves.
Groves will maintain better work over the three minutes to win the rounds, and his size advantage will become telling on Eubank Jr. later on.
We recognise that there are many different contributors to performance and that this article has only scratched the surface. We can break the numbers down offering analyses and the science, but we know that the sweet science is the one that prevails.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this article, and will enjoy the fight even more!
Boxing Science are excited to launch our new special feature on YouTube ‘Boxing Science Profiles’.
This series of 10-minute videos will feature individual boxers on the program, giving you an insight into their training, upcoming fights and career aspirations!
First up is Jordan Gill, as we build his explosiveness during the strength-speed phase of his training and put him through his paces in the Altitude Tent!