WORLD BOXING SUPER SERIES PROFILES – THE SUPER-MIDDLEWEIGHTS
Groves – the first super-middleweight confirmed for the tournament – announced his inclusion in the Super Series just days after winning the WBA world title against Fedor Chudinov in May. That title win was an emotional night for the Londoner, who had admitted beforehand that fourth chance at world honours would most likely be his last.
After his pay-per-view win over James DeGale in 2011, Groves became a big name in British boxing and his profile exploded with his bitter two-fight rivalry with Carl Froch. After rebounding from those two losses to Froch, Groves was edged out by then-WBC champion Badou Jack in 2015. Having won five on the bounce since then, Groves enters the tournament in scintillating form and is more accustomed to the big stage and bright lights than any of the other participants.
HOMETOWN: London, England
NICKNAME: ‘The Saint’
TRAINER: Shane McGuigan
BEST WIN: pts 12 James DeGale (2011)
FIRST SUPER SERIES FIGHT: Jamie Cox
ODDS TO WIN THE SERIES: 5/2
The unbeaten Liverpudlian was a surprise addition to the Series and one of the last to be confirmed. He had a shot at the vacant WBC world title confirmed against Anthony Dirrell, but some shameful attempts by the American to change the date and venue frustrated Smith and a the more attractive option of this tournament was presented to him.
Though he is unproven at the highest level, Smith has been installed as the betting favourite for the super-middleweight class. Huge for the weight, an excellent amateur and with some explosive first round finishes over quality opposition, Smith has bags of potential and this is why many are backing him to win the whole thing.
HOMETOWN: Liverpool, England
TRAINER: Joe Gallagher
BEST WIN: rsf 1 Hadillah Mohoumadi (2016)
FIRST SUPER SERIES FIGHT: Erik Skoglund
ODDS TO WIN THE SERIES: 13/8
CHRIS EUBANK JNR
Eubank earned his spot in the Super Series this past weekend when he dominated former two-weight world champion Arthur Abraham. That was only his second fight as a super-middleweight, having wrecked Renold Quinlan earlier in the year.
An excellent middleweight, Eubank’s sole loss came to Billy Joe Saunders back in 2014, though he went on to become British champion and almost fought the likes of Danny Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin. He drew criticism for seemingly walking away from both those fights but his decision to join this Series proves he does want to fight the best. Outspoken and a huge draw, he is a fascinating addition but he and his father are notoriously difficult to deal with – they could cause some riffs.
HOMETOWN: Brighton, England
NICKNAME: ‘Next Gen’
TRAINER: Ronnie Davies
BEST WIN: pts 12 Arthur Abraham (2017)
FIRST SUPER SERIES FIGHT: Avni Yildirim
ODDS TO WIN THE SERIES: 3/1
The former WBA ‘regular’ light-heavyweight champion will be boiling himself down to super-middle for the tournament – perhaps not the best idea at age 38. He hasn’t fought at 168lbs since 2007 when he was a well-ranked super-middleweight.
Having fought almost exclusively in Germany, some feel Braehmer never tested himself against the toughest challengers while he held the WBA belt, but he proved himself an effective technician and difficult to beat. He enters the Series off the back of a loss to Nathan Cleverly in October, a fight he withdrew from after six rounds due to a shoulder injury.
HOMETOWN: Schwerin, Germany
TRAINER: Karsten Rower
BEST WIN: rtd 5 Enzo Maccarinelli (2014)
FIRST SUPER SERIES FIGHT: Rob Brant
ODDS TO WIN THE SERIES: 14/1
Cox’s recent move to Matchroom Boxing was vindicated with his addition to the Super Series. Like Smith, he too had a title shot lined up – against British champion Rocky Fielding – but he chose this more lucrative path. In his first fight, he will challenge world champion Groves.
Having started out as a super-welterweight, Cox is one of the smaller super-middleweights however he carries potent power. He’s been fairly inactive over the past couple of years due to problems outside of the ring and despite his relative inexperience compared to the other fighters involved, he is highly touted. He’s looked fantastic in the past, and this tournament could show us just how good he is.
HOMETOWN: Swindon, England
TRAINER: John Costello
BEST WIN: pts 12 Obodai Sai (2011)
FIRST SUPER SERIES FIGHT: George Groves
ODDS TO WIN THE SERIES: 16/1
The big one
A rising star in Sweden, Skoglund has been progressed well by the Sauerlands – his promoters – and was ranked highly at light-heavyweight. However, he is coming down in weight to participate in the Super Series. He was a fully-fledged light-heavy so, provided he does the weight properly, he will be a massive super-middleweight and a real physical presence.
With a stellar amateur career behind him, Skoglund has been in some gruelling fights as a pro so is well-seasoned coming into this tournament. Certainly one to watch and perhaps a little underrated.
HOMETOWN: Nykoping, Sweden
TRAINER: Johan Skoglund
BEST WIN: ko 11 Timy Shala (2016)
FIRST SUPER SERIES FIGHT: Callum Smith
ODDS TO WIN THE SERIES: 33/1
The dark horse
Yildirim has been operating on the fringes for some time now, fighting in various countries and bulldozing his way through opponents. With no major backing, he is one of the lesser-known names of the Series but he has a strong reputation in boxing circles.
Brutal sparring sessions with several world class fighters have made him a respected name among those in the know and with heavy hands, a decent amateur career and a relentless style he is certainly the dark horse of this competition.
HOMETOWN: Sivas, Turkey
NICKNAME: ‘Mr Robot’, ‘The Dentist’
TRAINER: Ahmet Oner
BEST WIN: rsf 3 Schiller Hyppolite (2016)
FIRST SUPER SERIES FIGHT: Chris Eubank Jnr
ODDS TO WIN THE SERIES: 18/1
The only US fighter in both the super-middleweight and cruiserweight tournaments, Rob Brant enters as one of the biggest underdogs. There was not much of a stir in Europe when he entered the tournament, mainly because he has been making his name in the States – and as a middleweight.
He was one of the WBO’s top contenders and almost in line to fight middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders. He’s sparred many top American fighters, including Errol Spence Jnr, and numerous American experts are excited about Brant’s potential. He’s ruined his last four opponents and looked good doing it – there’s a lot to like about the 26-year-old, but he might have his work cut out trying to put a dent in the bigger men he will be facing in the Super Series.
HOMETOWN: Saint Paul, USA
TRAINER: Emmett Yanez
BEST WIN: ko 4 Decarlo Perez (2016)
FIRST SUPER SERIES FIGHT: Juergen Braehmer
ODDS TO WIN THE SERIES: 33/1