By Ian S Palmer
The vacant WBA Super Middleweight Championship is on the line this Saturday, May 27th at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England where George Groves of England will be taking on Fedor Chudinov of Russia. The 12-round bout can be seen live in the UK on Sky Box Office while fans in the U.S. can catch the action on Showtime and those in Canada can tune in to Super Channel. Groves last fought in November when he beat Eduard Gutknecht of Kazakhstan by a 12-round unanimous decision. Chudinov lost a 12-round majority decision to Felix Sturm in his last bout in Germany in February of 2016.
The 29-year-old Groves of London won the vacant international title in April of last year when he stopped David Brophy in the fourth round. He then successfully defended it against Martin Murray by 12-round unanimous decision in June. Groves climbs into the ring with a record of 25-3 with 18 Kos and this will be his fourth shot at a world title. All three of his losses have been against world champions. He was stopped twice by fellow countryman Carl Froch in 2013 and 2014 and then dropped a split decision to Badou Jack in September of 2015.
Groves managed to drop Froch in the opening round of their first meeting and had him in big trouble, but let him off the hook. The Londoner has pretty good power with a knockout ratio of 64 per cent, but Froch showed that his chin might let him down. Groves is just under 6-feet tall, has a 72-inch reach and has boxed 176 rounds since turning pro in 2008. He’s a former British and Commonwealth champion who is determined to win a world title. Groves gained a lot of confidence in his performances against Froch even though he lost them both, but didn’t show enough energy or urgency against Jack.
Groves has fine boxing skills to go along with his heavy fists and likes to use his jab, but Froch showed that he’s vulnerable to counter punches if he leaves himself open for too long. He’s also beaten Paul Smith, James DeGale and Glen Johnson. Groves will be facing the 29-year-old Chudinov who will enter the ring with a mark of 14-1 along with 10 Kos. Chudinov may have some ring rust though as he hasn’t fought in 15 months. Chudinov’s loss to Sturm last year was a rematch of their May, 2015 bout which saw Chudinov upset the former world champion by a 12-round split decision for the vacant title.
Chudinov is two inches shorter than Groves, but has the same reach of 72 inches. He’s also known as a heavy puncher with a current knockout ratio of 67 per cent. Chudinov turned pro in 2009 and has boxed just 75 rounds since then. His biggest win was against Sturm as the rest of his opponents were relatively unknown other than Andy Perez and Ben McCulloch. Chudinov proved he could handle a step up in class though when he beat Sturm in their first meeting. He’s a short, stocky guy who needs to get inside when possible and if he sees a chance to attack he usually takes it.
This should be a fan-friendly bout as both boxers are aggressive with decent power. Groves possesses the better speed and boxing skills while Chudinov arguably has more power. If Groves is ever going to win a world title this is his best chance. Look for him to take the vacant belt, likely by decision.
At this stage of their careers it would be safe to say that Chudinov is the more aggressive boxer and should be hitting his prime. Sturm is getting on at 37 years of age and his recent performances have shown that he’s on the downslide. Still, he can take a punch and has the skills to give anybody a hard time. But that being said, look for Chudinov to retain his crown by another close decision or possibly by late stoppage.