Record: 26-3 (19 KO) ... Streak: W5 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 7-3 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'11½" / 72" ... Age: 29
Thoughts: It’s been a journey for Groves as a professional, as he came into the pro ranks in 2008 with plenty of hype, had a rare top prospect vs top prospect fight and win over longtime rival James DeGale in 2011, and showed at the domestic level, while winning the British and Commonwealth titles, that he had the class a world level fighter.
In 2013, he got his first world title shot, and he started well against Carl Froch, dropping Froch in the opening round, before Froch rallied for a controversial ninth round stoppage in a great fight. His rematch came six months later, and that time, In Front of 80,000 at Wembley Stadium, Groves again fought pretty well before Froch turned the lights out with no controversy in the eighth round.
The second loss in particular was a devastating setback for Groves. He reset his career a little bit, picking up get-well wins over Christopher Rebrasse (winning the European title) and Denis Douglin, then was matched with Badou Jack in a third shot at a world title in 2015.
That time, things started badly for Groves, who was down in the opening round, but he fought his way back into things enough to earn a split decision defeat over 12. Still, it was a loss, and he was 0-3 in world title fights.
Once again, the reset button. A win over Andrea di Luisa. One over David Brophy. And then it was on to the serious fights. But this time, Groves didn’t jump from tune-ups into a world title contest. Instead, he took steps back into the world title scene. He beat Martin Murray in June 2016, and Eduard Gutknecht in November.
In May of this year, he faced Fedor Chudinov in his fourth world title opportunity, for the WBA belt. The pressure fighting Russian gave Groves a test, but Groves was confident, prepared, and gave better than he got, battering Chudinov in the sixth round especially and forcing the referee to stop the fight. Finally, he’d won his world title.
Will it be the start of a big new phase in Groves’ career? At 29, he’s right in his prime. But there are tougher fights than this one coming. If he beats Jamie Cox on Saturday, Chris Eubank Jr awaits in the World Boxing Super Series semifinal, and if he gets past that, he would face either Callum Smith or the Juergen Braehmer-Rob Brant winner.
Record: 24-0 (13 KO) ... Streak: W24 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'11" / N/A ... Age: 31
Thoughts: Cox is actually a couple of years older than Groves, but hasn’t had the same sort of pro career or schedule — in part because he doesn’t have Groves’ skills and didn’t come into the sport with the same expectations.
Cox was a solid amateur, winning gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games as a light welterweight. As a pro, he started at welterweight, and he is a former Commonwealth junior middleweight champion, but that was one win, six years and two weight classes ago. Cox came into that fight with questions about his dedication to boxing, and it was a controversial decision, too, and I had Sai winning that fight clearly. Here’s what I said in my recap then:
Cox can call himself Commonwealth champion right now, but I think the feeling is going to be that he didn't really earn it, and that he's nowhere near the class his team is hyping him to be at this point. He has tools offensively, but really is quite poor defensively, and I mentioned during the fight that watching the "new" Jamie Cox was sort of like watching John Duddy under the guidance of Pat Burns. Duddy wasn't very good to begin with, but going against his instincts just made him worse. Cox is a better talent than Duddy, but he's clearly fighting against his instincts, which are to brawl when the going gets tough. He's not a pure boxer and it just doesn't suit him. At times he looked mentally lost, and at times his frustration seemed to lead to the low blows.
After that fight, Cox didn’t fight again for almost two years, returning north of the middleweight division and settling in at super middleweight as he went forward. He’s done nothing of real note.
Maybe Cox is ready for this. Maybe it’ll be the sort of fight that he needs to get
Matchup Grade: D+. Being frank, Cox probably does not belong in the World Boxing Super Series, and probably doesn’t belong in a world title fight with Groves. There’s a chance he puts it all together in this fight and has a late delivery on the potential he was once thought to possess, but more likely this is another fairly easy matchup for Groves, who figures to march forward into a bigger semifinal bout with Chris Eubank Jr.