George Groves is ready to make Chris Eubank Jr sit up and take notice.
Groves has his first World Boxing Super Series bout when he defends his WBA world super-middleweight title in an all-English clash against Jamie Cox at the SSE Arena in Wembley Saturday.
The WBA super-middleweight world titleholder wants to make his own mark in the competition after English rival Eubank knocked out Turkey’s Avni Yildirim in the third round last weekend. Victory for Groves will set up a semifinal against Eubank in January — but the champion remains wary of his latest challenger.
“I expected Chudinov to be better and the same now with Jamie Cox when he fights me,” Groves told ESPN.
“He has got good pedigree and he’s happy to let his hands go. I’m expecting a better Jamie Cox than we have seen before. He’s never faced anyone as good as me but that doesn’t mean he’s crap.
“I was on the England squad before it changed to Team GB with him. We were different weights, but we trained together, travelled together and even roomed together a few times for England as a teenager. He was an old pal. He was a light-welterweight and I was 75 kg, so we never did any sparring and he was a bit older than me, too.
“He was a good amateur — fast and powerful. In the pro’s, he’s had a stop-start career, had hand problems and problems with the law but slowly he has crept up to super-middleweight.
“I believe he’s there [at super-middleweight] because there are opportunities there rather than because of his weight there. He’s got into this tournament because of his unbeaten record rather than who he has beaten, which is a blessing for him. It’s a big leap for him.”
Cox, (24-0, 13 KOs), 31, stepped up to super-middleweight in 2015 and has been busy this year. Despite out-pointing journeyman Giorgi Kandelaki in Spain last July, Cox faces a bigger challenge in Groves (26-3, 19 KOs).
“I don’t think he will be able to negate his way through difficult situations,” Groves, 29, said. “Once I set a few traps and he falls for them, I’m going to land big shots and he’s going to go.
“I know that we maybe haven’t seen the best of Jamie yet because he’s fought nowhere near the level that I have. He hasn’t fought any big names, he hasn’t been in world title fights and he’ll have to take a giant leap on Saturday night.”
Cox has yet to fulfil the potential he hinted at as an amateur, when he won a 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medal. He did not box at all in 2014 and 2012, and only once last year, but the Swindon-based fighter remains confident.
“George Groves has been eating lobster, while I’ve been eating crisp sandwiches,” Cox said. “We live completely different lives. I’m the hungrier fighter. This is a big opportunity for me and I’m going to take it. I’m feeling good, I’m ready and I’m looking forward to the occasion.”
However, anything other than a Groves win would be a big upset. The champion has improved under trainer Shane McGuigan and rebuilt his career steadily since a split points setback against U.S.-based Swede Badou Jack in September 2015.
That defeat to Jack — now a light-heavyweight — followed stoppage losses in high-profile fights against Carl Froch in 2013 and 2014, with Groves finally becoming world champion at the fourth attempt in May. Since losing to Jack in Las Vegas, Groves has registered five wins back on home soil, including the stoppage of Chudinov and points wins over Eduard Gutknecht, who suffered life-changing brain injuries from the fight, and Martin Murray last year.
“I feel I’m in the form of my career,” said Groves. “This tournament has come along for me at the perfect time.”