ON Saturday (February 17) George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr will clash in the semi finals of the World Boxing Super Series at the Manchester Arena. It is a fight that has captured the attention of many within the sport, only enhancing the burgeoning reputation of the tournament that has been gripping so far.
However, the undercard is also doing its bit to help prop up the main event, with some closely matched, domestic meetings that have plenty of fuel feeding the fire. In particular is the chief support where Ryan Walsh defends his British featherweight title against Isaac Lowe.
Walsh has already made the required amount of defences to win the Lonsdale belt outright, however unlike many others he is refusing to relinquish his grasp on the title. For Lowe this provides him with a huge opportunity to add a well respected name to his ledger and propel himself into the consciousness of the British boxing fans.
The champion however has no doubt he will be leaving with his title run remaining intact. He told Boxing News: “It’s time for him to back his words up. He claims he is going to come and fight, yet if you watch him that isn’t his style. He’ll come in and realise that he needs out of dodge very quickly.
“He will come and run, trying to nick the rounds because he’ll realise very quickly the only way that he’ll stop me is if he has loaded his gloves. There is nothing about his style that suggests he will stand and fight, but if he does, it will be a great fight to watch for as long as it lasts.”
Lowe was quick to retort, adding, “This has been a long time coming for me and I will show how good I am. I thought Ryan would have moved on and you have to give him credit for winning the belt outright, as that’s not easy to do, but if he loses to me now, where does he go?
“I’m a nightmare for him. I will step up my game to another level and he’s already shown that when he steps up, he loses. This will be no different and I can assure you that I will end his career on Saturday. His power is overrated and one of his best performances was when he lost to Lee Selby five years ago. You’re not telling me he’s still the same fighter he was back then? That belt will be round my waist come Saturday night.”
Both fighters have shared opponents in recent years, as both hold wins over Marco McCullough, whilst both were involved in controversial decisions against former European champion Dennis Ceylan. Both men are adamant that that is behind them and the prize of the Lonsdale belt will drive them on on the night.
Walsh said, “I got no justice with the European title and it now turns out I lost to a drug cheat. Money and politics stopped me getting a rematch, so it’s back to defending the British, which despite having it outright, there is absolutely no way I was ever going to vacate it.
“I wanted it for so long. When you have a dad like mine, who made a big point of owning this belt, then the pride I have every time I defend it is massive. I’m old school, so you can forget all these international baubles, as all they do is water down the credibility of the sport. The prestige of this title is the reason we all want it and that is why it means so much when you finally get your hands on it.”
Lowe replied, “I’ve learned from my mistakes in the Ceylan fight. I was in the away corner and just as I was starting to get to him and go through the levels, the fight was stopped. It has set me in good stead though and I’ll take it in my stride and become a better fighter as a result.
“I want this British title and then I want it for keeps. This is what I’m in boxing for. I’ve moved my camp away from my family and that is what drives me on, to give my family a better life. I’m a travelling kid, who grew up fighting in car parks. I’d rather get knocked out than lose a close decision. Styles make fights and I have no doubt whatsoever that I will take Ryan out.”
Both fighters did agree on one thing though. They are both pinning their flags to the mast of George Groves ahead of Saturday’s highly anticipated clash, with both expecting the WBA champion to retain his title and derail the Eubank Jr hype train at the weekend.
Lowe said, “It only goes one way for me and that’s a win for George Groves on points, possibly stopping him later on. Eubank is explosive and obviously super fit, but Groves has all the experience in the big fights and you’re making a big mistake if you’re writing him off.
Walsh agreed, “These are the fights that get you excited as a fan of the sport and to be on the undercard is a bonus. People are saying it’s a 50/50 but for me it’s more in favour of Groves. People are forgetting how hard he hits, as you don’t put Carl Froch down like he did if you can’t bang.
“He also has all the experience in real world title fights, which Eubank Jr doesn’t, as I don’t put any stock in the IBO belt he holds. Eubank Jr has got to bring everything he has in his arsenal, but he will be wide open to Groves, who is a top quality boxer. I can’t see past George Groves in this fight.”