By Jake Collins @MelancholyFolly
All too often with UK boxing cards we are able to pick holes in a lot of the matchmaking and question the validity of certain fights. When a card is PPV, even more scrutiny is applied. Make no mistake about it, Kell Brook against Errol Spence Jr for the IBF Welterweight crown is an excellent fight. It’s tough to pick a winner, both are at the top of their game and their styles should blend to make for an enjoyable fight. Propping up the main event is another quality fight in its own right. George Groves gets another pop at a world title as he takes on Russia’s Fedor Chudinov for the vacant WBA World Super Middleweight title. Whilst it doesn’t have the profile of the main event, this is also a solid match-up and should be crowd pleasing. Whilst the card is yet not finalised, it’s shaping up really nicely and even the most flippant of critics like myself may not be able to complain about it.
We have a lot of questions that demand responses from Brook. Will he be able to make 147 comfortably? Is the eye socket injury fully repaired? How much did the scintillating fight with Golovkin take out of him? Personally, I think he will make 147 perfectly fine. I never bought into the pre-fight conjecture that 160 was the suitable weight for Brook to fight at. I believe 154 eventually will be where he ends up but ultimately if he wasn’t able to make the weight then this fight wouldn’t happen.
What we saw in the Golovkin fight was a reminder of Brook’s superb timing and ability to fight both forwards and backwards. Aside from the 1st round where he was wobbled big time, Brook actually showed an ability to take shots I don’t think many of us really expected him to be able to take. The Porter fight feels an age ago and it was pleasing to see another demonstration of Brook’s skill in picking shots on targets marching forward. Let’s not forget the GGG fight didn’t even make the halfway stage but I don’t think many people foresaw that either.
Let’s not pretend otherwise, Spence Jr has looked an absolute wrecking machine so far. Obviously, his competition hasn’t been stellar but he’s stopped decent enough fighters to warrant much of the hype he’s received. Algieri is what he is, a great athlete who seemed to have some durability to him but he was brushed aside without much note. Bundu posed a slightly more difficult challenge but was also stopped for the first time in his career. Spence Jr’s power seems legit and his punch selection has enough variety.
That said, we also have questions to ask of Spence Jr too. Be it by chance or by careful matchmaking but he seems to have been kept away from punchers so far in his career. I forget the fight as it was an insignificant one but I have seen a clip of Spence Jr being wobbled before, although Brook has been hurt earlier in his career too; most fighters are. For all his attacking prowess, I’ve been troubled by Spence Jr’s lack of head movement and when going backwards he does so in straight lines. That’s the sort of thing that can be exploited by an accurate straight puncher like Brook. Porter wasn’t able to negate Brook’s jab and clinch by bullying, can Spence Jr do something differently? He has the longer reach but I haven’t seen him try to fight from the outside enough to suggest he might use this tactic, especially not given the levels of class he’s going from.
With home soil and a more pedigree career so far, I actually make Brook the favorite in this one. I see a close fight but with Brook producing the cleaner work and getting a decision, with both guys being hurt at some point.
Groves looks to pay homage to the famed parable of ‘fourth time lucky’ here. There are quite a lot of fighters whom I groan at for getting repeat world title offerings. Groves isn’t one of them though, because each time he’s lost (aside from the first time) he has dipped back down to at least European level to get a couple of wins before his next shot. Basically, he’s rebuilt instead of fighting a covenant of journeymen and being gifted another shot. We last saw him ultimately outclass Gutknecht in a decision which has been tarnished by the awful events after. We at FCB wish for the best possible recovery for Eduard. A GoFundMe page was setup but his wife has asked for any further donations to be supplied directly here.
Chudinov poses a genuine threat to Groves. Whilst Groves is the better technical fighter, he can at times look a little gassed which is something Chudinov will look to profit from. Chudinov throws a lot of punches and whilst he isn’t the most subtle of fighters, his inside and body work will cause Groves problems – providing he can get there. He was flat out robbed against Sturm last time out so in theory he should be unbeaten but hey, Felix Sturm gunna Felix Sturm. He’s also won a decision against a game but outmatched Frank Buglioni in the UK prior to this, whilst already having a legitimate victory over Sturm (a split decision, naturally).
Groves’ best weapon is his jab and if he can get this peppering Chudinov paired with those jerky feints he does so well then he should be able to earn a decision over the Russian. We’ve seen many times before that Groves seems to enjoy making the work difficult for himself though and any loss of temperament will produce a fighting style which could well favor Chudinov. Can’t see either fighter being stopped in this fight but it should certainly get the crowd ready for the main event.by