The finale to the 168-pound World Boxing Super Series tournament between “Saint” George Groves and Callum “Mundo” Smith is almost here and there is little doubt that the victor carries home not only a stack of cash and the Muhammad Ali trophy, but the label as arguably the best super-middleweight in the world.
To top it off, the main event represents what is nearly a 50-50 fight, according to MyBookie.ag. There isn’t much more you can ask for here, minus it living up to its billing.
Here are the voices of eleven men to see who they think takes it and how they think it plays out.
Alan Kindred – TGTN Contibutor/Independent Writer: Groves
I think this fight is an interesting match up and one that is tough to call a definite winner. It is a significant fight where the winner will become the man to beat in the 168-pound division, so I expect both men to be motivated and in top form. It will likely be a fight determined by who can control their ideal range better than the other. While I do think Smith’s size and hunger will make it a tough fight for Groves, I think that Groves’ experience, ring IQ, game plan, and overall well-rounded skill set will carry him to a close but clear decision.
Zakwaan Shaukat Ali – TGTN Staff Writer: Smith
This is an interesting fighting, as with many pick em 50/50 fights. You can make a credible argument for both fighters.
George Groves is the better boxer out of the two with a great jab and very good power, as shown in the first Froch fight.
However, he is the older guy who has been in a few high profile fights with too much mileage on the clock. Not to mention he is recovering from a shoulder injury from his last fight versus Eubank.
Callum Smith has the reach and height advantage and also boasts knock out power. It was his power that proved too much for Erik Skoglund. He also has a jab but he is very stiff and not as agile as Groves, who can move well.
Prediction: I’m going with Callum Smith via KO. I believe he’s the fresher and younger fighter!
Roy Bennett – Independent Writer: Groves
So the British lads are out in Saudi for the the inaugural WBSS 168lb final. How’s it likely to pan out? George Groves is a wily old veteran of the professional ring now, despite only being 30 years old. After leaving Jamie Fox crumped on the canvas spitting feathers from a body shot, Groves clearly bossed the majority of the twelve frames against domestic rival Chris Eubank, JR. to bag a clear points win. Callum Smith hasn’t looked nearly as impressive or as complete in his wins against Erik Skoglund and Nieky Holzken on the way to his big opportunity. While Smith at 28 is younger, fresher and unbeaten, Groves has mixed in far better company at world level. For my money, he’s the more solid and complete boxer and, more importantly, the harder hitter. If the wife were to catch me in the bookies having a flutter on this one I’d explain to her a few quid on Groves is money well spent.
John Einreinhofer – TGTN Co-Host/Staff Writer: Smith
Groves and Smith are solid fighters, but if there were 8-9 weight classes in boxing, as there should be, I don’t think either cracks the Top Ten. If you like 17 weight classes, consider this fight for all the marbles at 168, because it’s got to be arguably the worst division in boxing. That’s for perspective. I picked Smith going into the tournament but was very unimpressed by his performances against Skoglund and Hoelzen. Groves clearly beat Eubank but Eubank fought like a wild street fighter and Groves still has trouble timing him. I don’t think a lot separates the two but I see the taller Smith doing barely enough to squeak out a razor-thin, and possible controversial decision.
Bob Day – TGTN/Ringnews24 Staff Writer: Groves
I’ve watched these two for so long and should know a winner. I’m struggling with picking the man to win. Smith is younger and bigger but looked lethargic in recent fights. Groves has vulnerability plus a dodgy shoulder. At their best, I pick George. I just think his best is gone but his opponent isn’t living up to early promise. I’m going with George. He beat a Eubank, who I rate above Smith. With no certainty.
Michael Atkins – TGTN Staff Writer: Smith
St. George Groves vs Callum “Mundo” Smith is a really tough fight to pick. Groves is on a run and is coming off a solid win streak against Chudinov, Cox and Eubank Jr., while Smith was underwhelming in his last outing against Nieky Holzken. Groves is a capable guy, he can fight on a world class level, but picking George Groves never feels safe, as he tends to fold under pressure. I think George, at this point, is the better fighter, but even against Eubank Jr., a fight that he was dominating, you could feel him start to slip late as a result of Eubank’s rather inept aggressiveness. Callum Smith has major advantages in height and reach, a good left hook, youth, and I think that will be enough to “fold” St. George up by about the 8th round. I’d like to pick Groves, but I don’t trust him–my gut tells me he can’t keep it up for 12 rounds against Smith. Smith by TKO in 9 rounds or less.
Paul Cupitt – TGTN Staff Writer: Groves
Groves on points. Groves’ experience in the big fights will be the deciding factor. He’ll have trouble early against the taller man in Smith but I think he is the superior technician and once he figures out the right distance he’ll pick Smith apart and dominate the second half of the fight to win the decision.
Phil Rogers – TGTN Contributor/Southpaw Boxing News: Groves
Shane McGuigan has added a solidity to Groves that was sorely lacking previously. His jab, his footwork and the awkward and unpredictable feints he throws should provide him with ample success, particularly against an opponent who exhibits all of the robotic frailties we’ve come to expect from a Joe Gallagher fighter.
That said, Smith’s biggest weapon is his body punching. If he trusts his chin, gets on the inside, and lands shots downstairs early he may be able to fatigue Groves and take advantage late in the fight.
Ultimately I think the superior boxer & trainer will prevail. Groves to win via UD.
Christopher Carlson TGTN Staff Writer/Host for Rope-A-Dope Radio: Groves
Callum Smith needs to use his natural height and reach advantage. Hand speed as well favors Smith. Keeping Groves at bay will turn his opponent into a chaser instead of a catcher so to speak. Smith’s Sunday punch is a left to the body and then to the head. If Smith can put in bodywork early and often, it could result in a fading Groves. At times Callum can be somewhat stiff and stand straight up in a classic European pro stance.
Groves is the more versatile on offense and defense. It might be a case of neither guy wanting to lead if so this could be a snoozer. Both men will have success in the first 8 rounds so it could be 5-3 or 4-4. Groves will take more risk and probably win the fight because of it. Risk does open up opportunities and it will be up to Smith to take advantage of the openings. The difference will be Groves figuring out how to land and defend consistently against the limited or basic output from Smith.
Ian Stewart – TGTN Contributor: Groves
This is a real 50-50 fight to end what has been a fantastic tournament. I am really torn on who wins this fight. You have the hunger and the youth of Smith against the vastly experienced groves. I am going to go with a Groves points win in a fight of the year contender but I think it will be, so close it may be a split decision.
Jeremiah Preisser – TGTN Editor/Writer/Co-Host: Groves
Youth versus experience, it’s an age-old question in boxing and one that has produced various results. What does it get us here? It gets us a 30-year-old, freckle-faced boxer-puncher who has been rated in the top-10 for a whopping seven years squaring off with a younger, lankier, straight-up aggressor who is a relatively new addition to the fray.
The key, for me, will be whether Groves can establish his world class jab. That shapes the story.
My guess is he does. My guess is that he takes a decision in Saudi Arabia.
George Groves – 8/Saul Callum Smith – 3