GEORGE GROVES and Chris Eubank Jr meet on Saturday night (February 17) for the WBA super middleweight title, but the circumstances in which they meet is something relatively new to boxing. The World Boxing Super Series is a first of its kind annual boxing tournament and brings together the ‘best of the best’ fighters from the super-middleweight and cruiserweight divisions.
Sixteen professional boxers started out and have since been whittled down to six across both divisions in the winner takes all format.
The cruiserweight final has already been decided and all four world titles will be on the line as the WBC and WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk meets IBF and WBA holder Murat Gassiev. Both fighters have perfect professional records and the winner will become the first ever cruiserweight to hold all the titles.
Usyk opened the tournament with a convincing 10th round stoppage over Marco Huck in Berlin on September 9 and went on to beat Latvian Mairis Briedis in the semi-finals. The youngest member of the cruiserweight line up, Gassiev, swept away the oldest member, in Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, in Newark in their quarter final. Gassiev went on to outbox Cuban fighter Yunier Dorticos in Russia to unify the IBF and WBA cruiserweight titles.
The super-middleweight half of the tournament still has three fights to go with Groves facing Eubank Jr in Manchester and Callum Smith takes on Juergen Braehmer the following week (February 24) in Nuremburg.
Groves stopped Jamie Cox in their quarter-final with a devastating body shot and Eubank Jr silenced the crowd in Stuttgart with a vicious knockout over Turkish fighter Avni Yildirim.
Callum Smith won by unanimous decision over Erik Skoglund in Liverpool in September picking up the WBC Diamond belt and setting up a clash with Braehmer who comes off a somewhat surprising victory against up-and-comer Rob Brant.
Both finals will be fought in the summer of this year with the winner in each division taking home the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy.