If a fighters greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time they fall then George Groves must be congratulated for such an accomplished comeback performance against Christopher Rebrasse, so soon after being knocked out against Carl Froch.
On a personal level George Groves definitely divides opinion. Many people loathe him for his perceived cockiness and arrogance, while others love him because he is so full of confidence and self belief. Whether you love him or hate him, you cannot fault his hunger and desire to achieve his dreams of becoming a world champion. Furthermore, his boxing ability is also beyond reproach as is his entertainment value. He is brilliant to watch, and I bet somebody who is not even a boxing fan would appreciate the beauty of George Groves at his best.
After two consecutive knockout losses to Carl Froch, Groves could be forgiven if he wanted to lurk behind the shadows and have a few confidence boosting fights before returning to the spotlight. Instead, he put his head above the parapet again, returning very close to the scene of his last catastrophe to record a convincing point’s win over Christopher Rebrasse to win the European super middleweight title and become the mandatory challenger for Anthony Dirrell’s WBC belt.
They say you can only beat what is put in front of you, and by that wisdom it was a pretty good night’s work for Groves. The caveat to his assured display against Rebrasse though, is that the competition he will face next will be far more formidable than the tough and durable but limited and one dimensional Frenchman. Although it was hard not to be impressed by Groves’ cabaret of jinks, feints, double jabs and combinations you also had to be concerned by his characteristic lapses in defence and his all round vulnerability to counter punches.
Moreover, after being wobbled on more than one occasion by the light hitting Rebrasse the questions over Groves’ punch resistance persist. Any concerns about his ability to sustain punishment will multiply as his level of competition increases.
Yet when you throw close to a 1000 punches and are always on the front foot like Groves was then you are bound to leave the back door open at times. Fortunately for the young Hammersmith fighter Rebrasse didn’t have the concussive power or killer instinct to capitalise on the counter punching opportunities gifted to him by Groves. Maybe Groves will have to be more work on his defence in the gym or be more conservative with his punch output before he mixes it with the elite again.
Whatever he does, he simply cannot be so generous against the likes of Anthony Dirrell, who has the talent, and the power, to punish Groves for his mistakes. The top level fighters with cutting edge at 168lb will snap the branch of gratitude extended to Rebrasse by Groves and beat him up with it. Yet in terms of tangible attributes such as; hand speed, power, accuracy and shot selection it is clear Groves has the talent to become a world champion. Does he have the intangible boxing trait of a chin to sustain punishment from a top class super middleweight for the duration of a 12 round prizefight?
History tells us he doesn’t, but I truly hope he does when he gets his time again because it would be a travesty if a fighter with the boxing ability of Groves is prevented from becoming a world champion due to his precarious punch resistance.
His disregard for the defensive side of the game coupled with his questionable chin tells us Groves is destined to fall again at some point but he has already shown he has the resolve to recover from setbacks.
Despite his defensive frailties I have faith that Groves will get to the top of the sport and win a world title.
What do you think?
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