By Ian S Palmer
British super middleweights George Groves and Martin Murray will battle it out for Groves’ WBA International Championship at the O2 Arena in London this Saturday, June 25th. The 12-round bout can be seen live in the UK on Sky Box Office. Groves last fought in April when he stopped David Brophy in the fourth round for the vacant title. Murray’s last contest was in May when he stopped Cedric Spera in five rounds. Both bouts were tune up fights before this big domestic clash between the two Englishmen. Murray has had four shots at a world title and fell short in each of them while Groves has been unsuccessful in three attempts.
The 33-year-old Murray is 33-3-1 and has 16 Kos on his resume. He’s fought 214 rounds since turning pro in 2007 and is 6-feet-tall with a 73-inch wingspan and has a 43 percent knockout ratio. Murray is a fighter who likes to stay active as this will be his seventh fifth since February of last year. Murray, a former Commonwealth and British champion, had a title shot against Felix Sturm back in 2011, but could only manage a draw. He was then beaten by unanimous decision by Argentina’s Sergio Martinez two years later and stopped by current titleholder Gennady Golovkin in the 11th round in February of 2015. He then dropped a 12-round split decision to Arthur Abraham in his fourth title shot last November.
Looking back, Murray feels he may not have been ready for his first title bout against Sturm five years ago since he took a big step up in class to the world level from the domestic level. Murray has four stoppages on his record since moving up to the super middleweight division and knows he’s in for another tough test against Groves. But so far, the only three men who have beaten him were world champions at the time and Golovkin is the only one who managed to stop him and that came in the 11th round. If Murray can use his slight size advantage here he should find some success against Groves by boxing from the outside and catching him coming in. Martin also needs to keep his hands busy and initiate some exchanges rather than counter them all.
The 28-year-old Groves climbs into the ring with a record of 23-3 with 18 Kos. All three of his losses have also been against world champions. He was stopped twice by fellow countryman Carl Froch in fights in 2013 and 2014 and then dropped a split decision to Badou Jack last September. 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. He has good power with a knockout ratio of 69 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 152 rounds since turning pro in 2008.
Groves is a former British and Commonwealth champion who is determined to win a world title. However, he needs to get past Murray if he wants to remain a top contender in the 168 lb. division. Groves gained a lot of confidence in his performances against Froch even though he lost them both, but he didn’t show enough energy or urgency in his outing with Jack. He has fine boxing skills to go along with his heavy fists and likes to use his jab, but Froch showed he’s vulnerable to counter punches if he leaves himself open for too long.
This is one of the toughest bouts to predict this weekend. Both men are about the same size, but Groves is seven years younger. They’ve both fought some top-notch opponents, but Murray seems to have fared better against them. Groves has more power, but Murray has a better chin. This is a coin toss going in, so whatever happens shouldn’t really be seen as a surprise. If Murray’s chin is still solid then he could take a close decision here.