|Eubank Jr v Groves|
|Venue: Manchester Arena Date: 17 February Coverage details: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.|
|Preview show with Costello and Bunce: BBC 5 live on Thursday at 19:30-21:00 GMT|
Chris Eubank Jr has claimed George Groves could contemplate retirement if he loses his WBA super-middleweight title at Manchester Arena on Saturday.
The pair meet in the World Boxing Super Series semi-final and Eubank Jr said Groves has “everything to lose”.
“On Saturday, I will be on top of George from round one, punishing him for having the arrogance for stepping into the ring with me,” said Eubank Jr.
“You just don’t want this more than me George,” Eubank Jr, 28, told BBC Sport.
“He knows how to lose, he has been definitively beaten. His chin has an off button, mine doesn’t. George will take the loss in his stride, maybe a retirement afterwards.”
Groves, 29, replied: “I don’t think it has anything to do with who wants it more. I have been through some terrible times to be where I am now. I have had to pick myself up from low points and I have desire in abundance.”
Groves refuses to bite
At a prickly final news conference, Groves spoke sparingly and acknowledged Eubank Jr was trying to get under his skin, while refusing to attempt the same. It offered stark contrast to how the London fighter goaded Carl Froch prior to defeats in 2013 and 2014.
Instead, Groves only offered short replies to lengthy Eubank Jr statements, notably in saying his defeats to Froch, Badou Jack in 2015, and wins over James DeGale and Fedor Chudinov – where he claimed the WBA title in 2017 – were harder tests than fighting Eubank Jr.
“In terms of levels, skill, I am levels above you Chris,” said Groves, who has 27 wins from 30 fights.
Eubank Jr referenced sparring sessions the pair had shared in the past, claiming to have had the upper hand. “I still think you’re a novice,” he added. “I do not see anything in your style which makes you an expert in the game. You have a belt but the man you beat I do not rate at all.”
‘He has everything to lose’
Groves deemed the sparring “irrelevant” and played down the need to hype a fight for which tickets sold out in seven minutes.
The winner will not only hold world champion status but will reach the final of the World Boxing Super Series, where a substantial share of prize money and the Muhammad Ali Trophy will be up for grabs against either Great Britain’s Callum Smith or Germany’s Jurgen Brahmer, who meet next week.
Groves will hold a weight advantage of around a stone on the night against a fighter who previously campaigned a division lower – suffering the only loss of his 27-fight career against Billy Joe Saunders in 2014.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Eubank Jr said: “This is the biggest fight of my career and I have prepared accordingly. He is an experienced, seasoned world champion. He has everything to lose, which makes him dangerous. Even so, he’s not dangerous enough to beat me.”
‘Hunger will not play a part’ – analysis
BBC Radio 5 live boxing analyst Steve Bunce
Hunger will not play a part because George Groves is one of the hungriest fighters out there. He’s one of the worst losers I know, the type who cries for days after a defeat.
These are two men who could go back to any time and any era and be great.
BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello
One of the key factors in the fight for me is how Eubank Jr deals with the movement and boxing brain of George Groves because Eubank’s recent opponents have basically stood in front of him.
Carl Froch once told me about sparring Eubank Jr. He said he crunched some right hands on Eubank Jr’s chin and there was absolutely no chance of him going anywhere, no shakes, trembles. So he can take a shot.