Awesome that this fight is happening!
If an injury happens, it happens, it is life, it is one of those things, and it isn't ideal to have delays, for more reasons than some people realise, it unavoidably affects the setup and structure of a tournament when the most important fight in the competition is in jeopardy, but it would be a crying shame if the these issues were enough to ruin what has been built by the previous stages of the tournament. The truth is, I think, that if two finalists, who have both earned the opportunity to be in the final, don't fight, and a postponement turns into a cancellation, there is and was no point in even having a tournament, the purpose is defeated, and the whole thing becomes a waste of time, basically. It is good that the delay from Groves's injury hasn't nullified the fight, it is a great, great match up, boxing fans have wanted to see Groves vs Smith for years, it might be the most popular fight at 168, definitely is within the UK fanbase, they both won in the quarterfinals, they both won in the semifinals, they want to fight each other, this fight is important, so let's appreciate the fact that we are going to see it afterall.
I think this is a very interesting, intriguing fight, there are different ways of looking at it, you can easily see why both guys can win, and because of the magnitude of this fight, and based on what we've seen from them in the past, we know these are two technically skilled, dangerous, very entertaining fighters. I think this could be a real 50/50 fight.
Callum Smith, for years, has been considered, in the UK, to be one of the biggest boxing talents in Britain, maybe even potentially a serious, top, world level contender, he has alawys been considered more talented than his 3 older brothers, who have all fought for world titles (one has been a world champion), and it has always looked likely he is the best of the 4 of them, part of it may be because he is the youngest and was the best guided and best taught as a kid, maybe it is about raw talent, or maybe a combination of both, but he has always been considered very good, and a future world champion, virtually guaranteed.
Smith has some good wins, Rocky Fielding, Erik Skoglund, he has impressed, been dominant at a certain level, he has made some big statements, the Fielding win was explosive, and not just the win but the way he won, was evidence of a fighter with exceptional talent, but in terms of his proving his talent, achieving what so many people believe he can and hope he will achieve, it seems like he has been delayed, and his career hasn't really taken off yet, not at world level. I believe Smith is not commended enough for the Skoglund victory, and that is because, Skoglund, as well as Smith, was unbeaten, underrated, had no name at world level, I think he proved a lot that night, when a fighter might be behind after 7 rounds, blood pouring from his nose, being hit with a lot of hurtful punches, suffering adversity, can be when a fighter's adaptability is really tested, and Smith dug deep, pulled away, and dominated the fight from 8-11, scored a knockdown, won by UD, and wide.
Aside from the Skoglund victory, I don't think Smith has ever really fought a really good, world level fighter, and now, at 28, 24-0, he is definitely ready, it is crunch time now, the waiting, for Smith, and all his supporters, has gone on long enough, he needs a world title fight, and a big, high profile, meaningful fight.
George Groves is some fighter, he has had a tough, rollacosta career, he is very well known in boxing, for the ups, the downs, and the drama he has brought to the sport. People thought Groves was overrated, not as good as he looked in the first Froch fight, after he lost to Badou Jack, it was a split decision, but not at all controversial, and not a very disputed decision amongst the media and public. It is admirable, the way Groves got his act together, hired a trainer he had a really good working relationship with, started a new chapter in 2016, won fight after fight, looked better than he ever had, and after 4 straight wins, finally, after all he had been through, after the controversial stoppage loss, the devastating, explosive knockout loss, the split decision defeat, the notion of being 'a nearly man', he did it, against an extremely tough, motivated, awkward opponent, he became a world champion, in 2017.
Groves has really improved his reputation recently, not built it, if anything gets you well known, it is boxing in front of 80,000 fans, but his reputation has improved, actually becoming a world champion, not being a nearly man anymore, he wasn't a big underdog against Eubank, but he was a slight underdog, and that win, that victory, although it might not be his best win, there was something about that win for Groves, it might be the best we've ever seem him box, he looked a class above Eubank, put him in his place, he nullified him, it wasn't a boxing lesson, it wasn't an outright one sided fight, but Groves clearly won the fight by establishing his jab, establishing himself as the counter puncher, and knowing how to make the fight slightly ugly, using his size, messing Groves around, and still keep it a predominantly clean fight, that is the sign of a veteran fighter. It has become hard to use Groves's losses as a criticism, or a reason not to consider him a really good, world level fighter, because he had success in all his losses, and with wins over James DeGale, Fedor Chudinov, Chris Eubank Jr, his legacy looks fine, he gave Carl Froch really difficult fights, dropped him, no shame in losing to Badou Jack.
A lot of people, who are impressed Groves beat Eubank, might think he has achieved so much, that he could retire and still have made the most of his potential, but Groves won't see it that way, I think the Eubank win will have motivated him even more, to accomplish even more, I don't think he ever stopped believing he was capable of beating Carl Froch, and I don't think he will even consider he has met his match, I think we will see a very motivated Groves in this fight, the difference is, between now, and a year ago, is that before he fought Chudinov, there had to be some desperation, a certain type of pressure, that isn't there now, because in terms of his level of competition, world level success, you only have to look at how well he did in his losses, and now, he is a world champion (and not too brief, a champion who has defended, twice), but now, I think although his career is probably near the end (I think he should and might retire after this fight), he will be inspired, very motivated to win this fight.
I think Smith needs this more than Groves, there is more pressure on him, he has proven less in his career, whether that will hurt Smith's chances, and turn into desperation which Groves will exploit, or whether Groves will end up in there against a fighter who wants the win more than he does.
Smith is two years younger than Groves, I think he is definitely the fresher fighter, he is bigger, about 8 or 9 centimetres taller I think, he's physically stronger. I think Smith has great stamina, we've seen him do 12 rounds, many times, I've not seen him struggle for pace down the stretch. I don't think Groves has stamina issues, I think the reason he used to tire after 6 rounds or so, was because of the excessive amount of punches he used to through, his wasteful tenancies of putting so much into predictable right hands, sapped so much out of him, it was more a mental issue for him, but since he's been training with McGuigan, he's used the jab, used his right hand, behind a working jab, within the game plan, and without being unwise, against Murray, Eubank, in rounds 11 and 12 against Murray, in rounds 10 and 11 against Eubank, he might have had his best rounds, so he has 12 decent rounds in the tank, but he still may tire against a fighter who can make him work at a pace he doesn't intend to work at, can control the tempo, because Groves will never have a great gas tank, not relative to some fighters who just seem to thrive with the 12 round distance.
I think speed lies with Groves, in hand and in foot. I think in terms of who has the faster, more precise, better educated jab, it is Groves, 100%. For world level experience, we know Groves is better prepared than Smith is, not just because he has had 7 more fights, been in 6 world title fights whilst Smith hasn't been in any yet, but also because of the exact level amongst world title contention he has been at, Carl Froch is one of the best British fighters who ever lived, he is a British boxing legend, and that isn't even being generous.
I think in terms of doing everything right, hitting, not getting hit, sticking to a game plan, Groves beats Smith.
In terms of who can hold up against shots, who has the better chin, there is no comparison, I think Smith is 95-99% impossible to hurt, Groves on the other hand, well not only does he not take a shot well, I would use him as an example whenever talking about world class fighters with heart, dedication, determination, but get hurt when they get hit. In every fight he has, Groves seems to get hurt, at least to a degree, I think a big difference between Groves now, and Groves a few years ago, is that now, he knows exactly what to do when he is hurt, he reacts the right way, doesn't let his opponent follow it up, and it is extremely rare you can stop a guy with one punch, if he is still on his feet after it lands.
-I think Groves is a much better defensive fighter than Smith
-I think outside of the jab, Smith is the better offensive fighter
Both these guys are great defensive attackers, they don't just bulldose forward and attack, they don't just back off and defend, they can inflict damage, hurt the opponent off the back foot.
I think because Smith is not as defensively aware, not as instinctive and on guard a fighter as Groves is, he more viable to walk into a shot, and if he does, of he makes one big mistake, Groves can hurt him, because Groves hits very hard, he might not hit as hard as used to think he did, maybe he wanted specifically to get the knockout, too much, but he is still a naturally powerful, dangerous puncher, he is accurate, and he can set up opponents, in a close, competitive fight, he destroyed Jamie Cox with a lethal body shot.