While the eyes of most American boxing fans will be on Brooklyn this Saturday night, when Keith Thurman defends his WBA welterweight belt against Shawn Porter at the Barclays Center, across the pond in London, two of the better super middleweights in the world will face off when George Groves meets Martin Murray.
Neither Groves nor Murray has ever held a world championship, but they have both fought for them. Last September, Groves came up short fighting for the WBC belt, when he faced Badou Jack. The verdict was a split decision, but I personally had Jack winning, even as I had gone on record picking Groves before the fight.
In November 2013, Groves knocked down IBF and WBA champion Carl Froch in Round 1 and was up on the cards when Froch caught up to him and stopped him in Round 9. The stoppage was widely criticized as premature and the rematch between the two six months later was the biggest British fight of recent years, drawing 80,000 fans to Wembley Stadium. Once again Groves controlled the early part of the fight and once against Froch erased the scorecards with a single big punch, landing a beautiful straight right in Round 8. This time there was no doubt about the validity of the stoppage.
Murray moved up to super middleweight last year, after losing by Round 11 TKO in February 2015 to Gennady Golovkin in Monte Carlo. He had previously challenged Sergio Martinez in Argentina in April 2013. He knocked the champ down once and if a second knockdown had been properly credited, rather than ruled a slip, I would have had scored the fight for Murray.
Murray lost a split decision to then WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham last November. The winner of this fight is going to rate as a top five talent at 168 pounds.