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The Tweet Science, Vol. 1: Groves, Canelo, Lemieux, and drug use in boxing

Tom Craze answers your questions from Twitter in this, the first edition of The Tweet Science.

The Tweet Science is a new interactive feature on Bad Left Hook that gives you the chance to have your questions answered on the website.

While some weeks may be a little more focused, to kick off proceedings this first instalment is an open theme, so we opened the (Twitter) floor to questions on just about anything and everything, 140 characters permitting.

There was one question that kept being asked, though, so let's start there.

Where do you think George Groves can, or should go from here? (‏@Jack__Furlong)

Where does Groves go from here? New (or old) coach? Up in weight? Looked flat and too easy to hit. (@IreBizInsurance)

What's happened to Groves? Was Froch I a really good night for him? Can't see him getting an easier chance than Jack. (‏@sampowerstwita)

George Groves, now 0-3 in world title shots, appears to be in one of those difficult spots. He's too good for European level, and probably most, if not all, of the tier of fighters kicking around beneath the title picture, but seemingly not quite good enough to take that final step, or at least not yet.

But let's reassess. Of those three world-level defeats, two were inflicted at the somewhat unforgiving hands of Carl Froch, likely the consensus second-best super-middleweight of the past five years. There's certainly no shame in that, although quite how much those losses - in particular the most recent - took out of Groves is really the question driving the doubts around him at the moment.

It's true, too, that Groves hasn't ever really impressed since the first half of the first Froch bout, in which he looked like a man possessed. Wins over Denis Douglin and Christopher Rebrasse surprised nobody and proved little, but we'd certainly seen him perform better. Against Jack, who many - and you have to think Groves, too - consider to be one of the weaker alphabet holders, I thought Groves (who I thought would win, and comfortably so) looked sluggish. Obviously, the early knockdown won't have done wonders for his confidence, but Groves is a man who fights so much better on the offensive, and at the weekend he was much more cautious, content to box from range.

Badou Jack v George Groves Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

He won't have been helped, too, by the fact that he thought he was winning - and won - the fight "decisively". Contrary to his post-fight comments, at no point did I think Groves was in full control of the contest, although in several of the swing rounds I did give him the nod. On the road though, against a Mayweather fighter, on a Mayweather card, I don't think Groves had the right game plan. This was a golden opportunity for Groves to really make a statement, and he blew it.

Perhaps, though, Badou Jack is just better than everyone thought. Perhaps we should give him more credit, rather than criticise Groves. He boxed well, in what I thought was a impressively measured performance, and his jab was very good all evening.

That's not to say that there aren't legitimate concerns here, and once again, questions about Groves's stamina persist. He was visibly flagging from around midway, and in a bout that never reached anything approaching all-action, that's worrying. At this level, conditioning shouldn't be a factor contributing to a defeat. Is it making the weight that's an issue, or is there a deeper problem?

Many have remarked that Groves hasn't looked the same fighter since leaving the excellent Adam Booth and, given that he was working with Paddy Fitzpatrick for the first meeting with Froch, that's perhaps unfair. Still, though, at no point on Saturday should Groves have been under the impression that he was winning handily, and that's on the corner to be making very clear. It was a close, nip-and-tuck fight, one which Groves was only a few rounds from winning, but there didn't look to be the adjustment required to really make up the deficit from hitting the floor in the first round.

As to where he goes next, Groves is fortunate to have options, once he's recovered from this latest disappointment. He's still a fighter - a good fighter - with some reasonable name value, certainly in the UK, and while a rematch with DeGale might now have to wait a little while longer, there are plenty of good fights out there. Much depends on how Sauerland want to handle him. Arthur Abraham, of course, holds the WBO title, and while that won't be next up for Groves, that's an intriguing contest should they want to keep things in-house.

I'd be very surprised indeed if Groves was to consider moving up in weight - the belt holders at 175lb are arguably the strongest across any division, so his ambition of winning a world title look highly unlikely to be fulfilled there. There are some other routes elsewhere, but the WBA picture is congested, with Sauerland's own Vincent Feigenbutz and Sturm hovering for the winner of Buglioni-Chudinov. Groves against any of the other British challengers sometime early next year would make for excellent domestic scraps, with Martin Murray moving towards a title shot of his own, and Callum Smith and Rocky Fielding squaring off in November.

At 27, time is still on Groves's side, and - barring a continual post-Froch decline - with the backing of a power promoter like Sauerland, it's difficult to see how he won't jostle his way back into contention at least once more.

What would the odds be in a Canelo-Lemieux bout be right now? (@masteranglerjm)

Though it seems unlikely, with Lemieux anything up to 9/1 underdog against Golovkin in a few weeks, we may get to find out next spring how the bookmakers price up a Canelo-Lemieux fight. Of course, if Lemieux proves himself capable of beating the man virtually everyone considers as the best fighter at 160lb - and Canelo sees off a rejuvenated Cotto - we're looking at a very different match-up.

Were this mini, and entirely theoretical, middleweight bracket reshuffled, with Canelo-Lemieux a semi-final-of-sorts, Canelo would start a reasonable favourite for it. At the moment, from the four guys - who, it should be said, are hardly worthy of the title of the ‘present-day Four Kings' that some have carelessly bestowed on them - it's my belief that Golovkin, until proven otherwise, is top of the tree with plenty to spare. After that, it gets a little messier, but I have Canelo second, then Cotto, then (although not by very much) Lemieux bottom of the heap. So you're looking at - at least in my rankings - second vs. fourth.

Miguel Cotto v Canelo Alvarez - Press Tour Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The advantage that Lemieux has here, of course, is that he's a natural, fully-fledged middleweight. Add in the fact that he hits like a mule and he's certainly a test for Canelo. Triangle theory is always a dangerous way of pricing up fights, but I think Cotto might be able to do enough to outhustle Lemieux, although that's the closest fight of the six fights that could be made, I think, and there's very much an argument Cotto struggles hugely in that.

Bear in mind that Golovkin is as lopsided a favourite as 1/20 (-2000) against the Canadian (although 1/14, or -1400 can be found). With Canelo priced at a general 2/5 (-250) to beat Cotto, if Canelo-Lemieux were made right now, I'd imagine we'd be looking at something similar, although with Lemieux's power factored in, Canelo would likely start a 1/2 (-200) favourite, if not 8/15 (-188), 4/7 (-175), or thereabouts.

Are drugs rife in boxing? (@AdamThackray81)

This, obviously, is a timely issue for combat sports, both with the publication of Thomas Hauser's look at Mayweather and his use of IV, and UFC fighter Nick Diaz's ludicrous five-year suspension for marijuana use.

Frankly, it's ridiculous - almost beyond comprehension - that a truly reliable, bulletproof testing programme for the sport hasn't already been implemented with all the risks that PEDs can expose an opponent to, but that's boxing for you, and just one of the drawbacks of the sport having no singular governing body to put this kind of thing in place.

Cynics would say, of course, that an opponent is probably at no more risk than the guy who's already juicing, as they're likely to already be doing exactly the same. While that may well be true in some cases, and will continue to be unless this mess gets cleared up, that all makes for the murkiest, albeit somewhat more level, playing field.

This isn't solely an American problem, but it's perhaps one that's being dealt with more effectively elsewhere. In the UK, for example, where there are still improvements to made, the overarching British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) - which says it tests every championship contest and randomly tests undercards - has already issued suspensions to Dillian Whyte, Enzo Maccarinelli, Kid Galahad and Larry Olubamiwo for positive tests.

USADA have today responded in fuller detail to the points raised by Hauser, both here, and -- in an event that I don't think anyone was really expecting -- released a 25-page side-by-side dossier to address each point directly. It's explosive stuff.

It's hugely problematic to say that there is widespread performance-enhancing (or, indeed, recreational) drug use taking place among fighters, just as it is to say that there isn't, given the failings and inconsistencies that most are now aware of.

There is, however, no smoke without fire. One might think that, just like the enduring debate about boxing and match-fixing, if there was enough of it going on, then surely somebody would have blown the lid with an irrefutable exposé long before now. Hauser's article falls short of being that smoking gun, but it would be a surprise if we were to wait long for another along the same lines.

One thing is for sure, though - this isn't an issue that's ever going to go away. Not, at least, until there's stringent, uniform testing for every fighter, for every fight. No exceptions can mean no complaints.

The Tweet Science aims to be a regular feature on Bad Left Hook. If you've got a question you'd like to have featured on the site, tweet it to @Box_Bet, with the hashtag #TweetScience, and we'll pick the best and answer them in the next column.

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