Groves vs Eubank Jr Result: Brains beat Blind Hope

Groves vs Eubank Jr Result: Brains beat Blind Hope

It seems Chris Eubank Jr read all the big fight previews and agreed, to such an extent he decided there was no point entering the ring with a game plan.

That may be a little harsh, he did have Plan A, which was to swing aimlessly for a winning knockout punch. It’s one thing to realise your opponent has better boxing craft, quite another to decide this means you should abandon anything resembling boxing tactics.

Fair enough, Eubank Jr was unlikely to ever be ahead on points by occupying the centre of the ring and outworking Groves with intelligent jabs and counterpunches. But he could have taken rounds by successfully hustling The Saint. Getting on the inside and landing telling punches – against a proven world class boxer – requires careful plotting.

Rushing your man is a quick way to hand over the fight. George Groves did show signs of openness but that’s to be expected with the amount of wild punches being thrown. By the sixth round any doubts in his mind vanished. He knew the points were racking up in his favour. Keeping him at arm’s length seemed easy, avoiding when up close never looked too much of an effort.

Eubank Jr did sustain a cut above his right eye, which bled profusely, but it wasn’t a telling factor in this fight. The major difference was experience and brains over the arrogance of youth. Chris Eubank Snr was an original, an eccentric one-off who could box. His son comes across as a deluded braggart.

Tonight, George Groves made Chris Eubank Jr look like an amateur. An amateur with a poor amateur background.

It’s the start of a new chapter for Groves. A chance for a fresh start, and if the shoulder injury he sustained in the final round isn’t serious, he’ll go on to win the World Boxing Super Series. While this is going on, Eubank Jr should watch this fight on repeat every day and take notes on how to box.

If you want to reach the top level you need to learn how to use brains before dropping the bombs.

There’s no better example in the world of a man who knows this than George Groves.

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Groves vs Eubank Jr: Boxer versus Bravado

Groves vs Eubank Jr: Boxer versus Bravado

The bookies have installed Chris Eubank Jr as favourite in the semi-final of their World Boxing Super Series clash, proving hype catches the attention of casual fans. The Eubanks have made two careers out of furore. Eubank Senior was no doubt one of the best during a competitive generation. A true boxer who ran out of answers when faced with hardman Steve Collins.

The three losses that closed out his career were the exclamation point highlighting his long decline. They shouldn’t overshadow his boxing prowess. His personal, and carefully crafted, style outside the ring was a distraction that often counted against him, especially as historians focus on the performer.

So it’s with some irony that his son enters his biggest bout to date and isn’t seen as the natural boxer out of the two competitors. His best chance is to make Groves deviate from the plan to box. As we saw against Billy Joe Saunders, Eubank Jr can be put in his shell when the other guy remains disciplined.

Those bookies odds have been shaped by the Eubank Jr gimmick convincing people he’s better than the man holding two belts, as much as Groves’ historical bouts, namely the Carl Froch fights, have swayed opinion.

Cliché alert: some boxers are never the same after a big defeat. Until Groves wins the next big one, there will be a question mark over him. Has the Froch experience scarred him forever? The Eubank Jr fight is the next big one. A win here deletes the years of carrying around inner turmoil.

History doesn’t tell the story of how he out-boxed Froch for two fights, or how the Nottingham fighter needed to pull out the best punch of his career to stop him. It just says he lost. Twice.

To drive home that fact, Carl Froch works tirelessly at working a reminder into every appearance he makes on Sky Sports. If you didn’t know already, Carl Froch once filled Wembley and beat George Groves.

The time to kill the bogeyman has arrived.

He’s endured the painful memory of what happens when he allows adrenaline to dictate his approach. If he remains mindful of his goal – and how to achieve – Chris Eubank Jr will be in for a long night of boxing. One where he becomes a frustrated and beaten opponent.

The fight could come alive in the second half when Eubank Jr realises the points are against him and he needs to do something to remove the judges from the equation. At that point, all eyes will be looking for the knockout win.

The wise man would still fancy Groves. If he can endure the onslaught, he can also deliver more telling power punches to a chin that has never been tested.

Groves famously once said: “Everything for a reason.” All those setbacks have been for tonight, the reason: to take back the respect he should never have lost, to make this his time. In doing so, he will expose the Eubank brand for what it really is.

Is Alonso Cursed?

Is Alonso Cursed?

There are 724 other Formula 1 drivers who would have loved some of Fernando Alonso’s curse. He is one of only 33 world champions the sport has seen. But it’s fair to say, Fernando’s days with the crown feel like a lifetime away now, whereas bad luck seems to follow with permanent DRS enabled.

It was the recent attempt at IndyCar’s Indianapolis 500 that endeared him to a new legion of fans but once again showed the stars will not align for the Spaniard. It would have been the stuff of dreams had he won the big one in his rookie race. Ability wise, it wouldn’t have been shocking, but it is more Hollywood than reality.

This isn’t to say IndyCar is to be taken lightly.

It may appear a simplified sport to F1 aficionados but there is an art to oval racing. On many occasion fans of other motorsports laugh at the idea of going around in a circle. It’s as if they see the Indy 500 as a simple foot down and steer experience.

In contrast, an average of 16.7 turns are dealt with during each race weekend on the current F1 calendar. During the course of the season, 334 are taken, the highest for an individual track is 23, the lowest being 9 (which still dwarfs the Indy 500). This means each circuit becomes a compromise on setup.

No car can perfect each corner and the straights.

Oval endurance racing is about how to optimise the car for what appears to be a narrow choice between downforce and speed. But the changing conditions – both on track and in car – require gentle tweaks in weight distribution and balance. Rather than the optimisation of several sections, with a knowing sacrifice elsewhere (often offset with ERS or DRS), it is a tightrope walk that requires intelligence combined with a supernatural feel.

The two elements Alonso has above all F1 drivers, past and present.

Such a linear setup target, relying on the feel of the car, should sound like second heaven to someone like Jenson Button. Often described as unbeatable when the he feels the setup is perfect. But he dismissed IndyCar in the clearest terms when interviewed at Monaco. Perhaps the greatest acknowledgement: to get that perfect setup isn’t an easy task.

Alonso took to the Andretti based McLaren-Honda and the new formula as if he’d lived on oval circuits. He won hearts and minds in America and ensured his status as an all-time great. Transcending F1 and proving he doesn’t need an Indy 500 win and Le Mans 24 trophy to solidify his legacy.

But again, he does this through failure, not success.

If life is trying to send him subliminal messages, it’s getting bored with how slow he is to take the hint, so it sent a glaring one. The architect of his demise was once again a Honda badged engine. It forms a long line of conspirators against the Spaniard.

His personal choices can, of course, be questioned. But aside from conduct during his first McLaren stint, he’s appeared to be the loyal and dedicated professional teams pay $40m a season to secure.

With his unfortunate turn of luck stuck in a perpetual cycle, one has to consider a sinister form of fate is driving him to retirement without a third world title.

Time and a narrowing market of professional opportunity compound the issue.

McLaren will not be competitive this season and even the most optimistic Honda engineer cannot be expecting to produce an engine on par with the leading pack in 2018. Such a turnaround would be nothing short of miraculous but the talk of it sounds nothing short of folly.

There’s potential for movement in the top two teams of Ferrari and Mercedes. But the Prancing Horse always has a clear Alpha and Omega when enjoying periods of competitiveness and it’s hard to see Vettel losing his number one spot.

Mercedes sell the idea of equal footing but after the strain of the Hamilton/Rosberg dynamic, they’ve opted for the safe Bottas. He’s formally managed by Wolff and likely still influenced by the Austrian. He’s certainly more malleable than Alonso would be if it came down to an awkward in-house championship fight.

Which leaves Red Bull, probably the best driver balance at the front of the grid with years of longevity, should they wish to retain and are able to fend off third parties.

This leaves Alonso stuck in a seat he sought out after giving his prime years to a failing Ferrari. A Ferrari that came good not so long after he departed. Detractors could claim this is indicative of a negative effect he has teams.

Sportsmen are notorious for being superstitious. Whether it be always placing the left glove on before the right or a lucky meal that can never change on the day of the event. Alonso’s must be to break mirrors every seven years, or driving around for hours hoping to see magpies sat on their own. (I personally don’t have any superstitious tendencies and hope to keep it that way . . . touch wood.)

Since the Indy 500 experience, his return to F1 has continued to be tainted by poor luck. In Azerbaijan he collected a bittersweet two points. The not so subtle remark about how they could have won the race was aimed squarely at his engine supplier.

Austria witnessed a good Alonso start off the grid, only to be wiped out at turn one. An innocent party in a collision where the fates conspired against him.

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone underlined the woes of living with Honda. Starting from the back of the grid after a thirty place penalty, a mechanical failure added another DNF to this season’s tally.

It must be difficult to remain upbeat when faced with repeated setbacks.

Is it just bad luck? Poor judgement? Or does someone, somewhere, have a voodoo doll that looks like a little Spaniard in a racing suit? Is it a curse that means Fernando Alonso will never complete a hattrick of F1 world titles, let alone the triple crown of Formula 1 Champion, Indy 500 winner, and a 24 Hours of Le Mans victory?

Should he secure any of the above, his arduous journey since his last world title in 2006 will feel like it was worth all the ill-fortune in the world. However, all signs point to his misery continuing indefinitely.