‘Saint’ George Groves looks to strike it rich at the fourth time of asking as he once again bids for world title glory when he squares off against the Russian, Fedor Chudonov, for the vacant WBA super middleweight belt at Bramall Lane in Sheffield.
At 29 years of age and with a wealth of big fight experience under his belt Groves is a seasoned professional now. He might just be looking at this as his last chance saloon to fulfill his dream of becoming a world champion after being denied by Carl Froch twice and Badou Jack.
After being involved in some barnstroming fights and having been brutally knocked out by Froch, you’d be forgiven for expecting George to now be a weathered fighter. However, he has been looking refreshed in the ring after joining the Macguigan stable and was in fine form for his last fight at Wembley Arena, demonstrating his undoubted boxing ability in a systematic beating of Eduard Gutknetcht.
Unfortunately Eduard is still in a coma after accumulating too many heavy punches. It’s a tragic incident but Groves will have to do his best to remain unaffected by news of Eduards ongoing condition. He simply cannot afford to let it soften his killer instinct going into what is a pivotal fight in his career against a game contender in Chudinov.
You’d also be forgiven for thinking George was a beaten man set for the pastures of retirement after losing to ‘The Ripper’ Badou Jack back in September 2015. Badou Jack was widely regarded as a weaker beltholder in the super middleweight division at the time and has since proved that notion wrong by fighting out a draw with George’s arch domestic rival James Degale, which whilst being no consellation to Groves, does indicate that Groves performance wasn’t actually too bad at all. The fight was still a very close one and could have gone either way.
He has shown great patience and fortitude to bounce back from that defeat but there is a danger that Chudinov is being underestimated in this fight. Chudinov does not have a standout resume on paper with only 14W-1L but the Russian is certainly not guilty of padding out his record. He has progressed swiftly as a pro having already boxed for and won the WBA world super middleweight title by beating Felix Sturm and defending it successfully against Britain’s Frank Buglioni.
He has only been beaten by the German fighter, Felix Sturm, in the rematch but Sturm was subsequently stripped of the title after he tested positive for an anabolic steroid leaving the title vacant.
Chudinov will be looking to back Groves up and land overhand rights. He is a strong, solid, economical pressure fighter that forces his opponents to work hard and burn energy reserves by closing the range quickly. Groves has looked less like fading late on in fights under trainer Shane Macguigan but Chudinov could be the man to really test whether Groves has managed to eradicate the stamina issues that he has been marked with in the past.
Groves has the greater variety to his skillset and I would back him to finally win a world title. However he will have to leave no stone unturned in preparation because as previously stated Chudinov is certainly no walkover for any supermiddleweight champion. One of Groves biggest assets in slowing Chudinov’s approach may be his power jab. Groves has a heavy lead hand and this could make Chudinov think twice about stepping into firing range and afford Groves the time and space to set up his attacks.