By Tom Gray
The World Boxing Super Series has gotten off to a terrific start, in both the super middleweight and cruiserweight tournaments. There have been plenty of reasons for fight fans to be excited, including standout performances and exciting knockouts.
This Saturday, unbeaten British super middleweight Jamie Cox takes on reigning WBA titleholder George Groves at the Wembley Arena in London. It’s the third quarterfinal at 168 pounds and Cox is a heavy underdog against his countryman and former amateur teammate.
However, the challenger does have a few things going for him. At 31 years of age, Cox is still fresh and ambitious. He’s a southpaw with the ability to crack harder than his record (24-0, 13 knockouts) suggests. Also, with their prior history, Groves is no mystery to Cox and that can only be of benefit.
“George is a very good fighter,” said Cox in an interview with RingTV.com. “He tries to box you and then he looks to land his shots with real power. He’s a very good fighter but I’m prepared to bring my A-game to become the man. I’m prepared for the most on-point version of George Groves there has ever been.
“This is about the best fighting the best. You’ve got all the top fighters going against one another and, if you come through three fights, you have the Muhammad Ali Trophy. I also get the chance to win a world title in my first fight and that’s all I’ve been working towards, since I was a kid. But winning the world title is just the start for me.”
And it’s a late start. Cox has been a professional for 10 years and Groves, who is rated No. 3 by THE RING at 168 pounds, will be the first recognized name he will have faced. The Englishman was just beginning to pick up momentum when he was jailed for a domestic violence incident in early 2016. Cox was freed the following month on appeal and all charges were dropped but the ramifications of that experience resulted in an unwanted 11-month layoff.
Cox has also made his way from welterweight to super middleweight and that’s one of the reasons many are picking Groves, the natural 168-pounder, to prevail.
“I still have to make weight to make (168 pounds) and I make it well,” countered Cox. “George is the bigger man but he’s overly big for the super middleweight division. He’s killing himself to make the weight. I stay in the gym. I stay athletic and I stay nearer my fighting weight. He’s hurting himself and he’s dead by the time he gets on the scales.
“We’ll see what kind of factor that is on the night. Is he really that much bigger? We still have to weigh 168 pounds on the scales. I feel good at this weight. The only reason I got away with being lower is because I was a young kid. I’ve grown a lot since then and that’s why I moved up. I don’t walk around at 168. I still have to eat healthy and be careful to come in on the division limit.”
WBA super middleweight titlist George Groves (left) and challenger Jamie Cox. Photo by Mark Hermenau/ World Boxing Super Series
Cox can draw inspiration from Chris Eubank Jr., who stopped the previously unbeaten Anvi Yildirim in the second quarterfinal bout of the WBSS in Stuttgart, Germany, on Saturday. Eubank only moved up from middleweight to super middleweight this year, but he destroyed Yildirim, who had previously campaigned at light heavyweight, in three rounds.
“I watched it and I thought Eubank boxed well,” said Cox. “I’d never seen Yildirim box before and he didn’t really show too much. Eubank did what he needed to do with someone like that and he did it well. If you present a target for him and don’t throw back, Eubank is going to land shots on you all night.
“I also thought (Callum) Smith-(Erik) Skoglund (the first quarterfinal match-up, which took place in Liverpool, England, on September 16) was a good fight. Skoglund boxed well and landed lots of jabs. I thought that fight was a lot closer than the judges had it. Maybe that wasn’t Smith’s best performance. I’m sure, as the tournament moves on, he’s going to get better.”
The general feeling is that Groves (26-3, 19 KOs) will face Eubank Jr. in an eagerly anticipated semifinal sometime in early 2018. However, Cox is on red alert to tear up the script and stranger things have happened.
Wisaksil Wangek almost guaranteed that you’ll never see Roman Gonzalez throw down against Naoya Inoue by almost punching the legendary Nicaraguan through the canvas last month. Can Cox upset the apple cart and put an end to the Groves-Eubank rivalry before it even begins?
The Swindon, England, native certainly believes he can.
“It doesn’t matter if I knock him out with a clean shot or if I box the head off him for 12 rounds,” said Cox before justifying his prediction. “Everyone knows that I can brawl and have a tear-up but, at this level, you need to be able to box. George Groves will bring out the best in me.
“I feel good and I’ve prepared well. It’s all in the preparation and I truly believe that. I know what it takes to beat someone of George’s caliber and I’m ready for it.”
Tom Gray is a U.K. correspondent/editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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Source:: The Ring – Boxing