- Getty Images
- Boxing promoter Kalle Sauerland says he is creating one of the “fastest-moving brands in all of sports.”
- His groundbreaking $50 million tournament will pit George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr against each other in a mouthwatering semi-final in February.
- According to Sauerland, Groves and Eubank have already “kicked off behind the scenes” ahead of the all-British fight – potentially “one of the biggest in a decade.”
Boxing promoter Kalle Sauerland says super middleweight rivals George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr have “already kicked off” ahead of their all-British showdown in February next year.
The fighters were two of eight 168-pound (12 stone) athletes selected for the quarter-final stage of Sauerland’s groundbreaking $50 million (£37.6 million) tournament, the World Boxing Super Series.
Eubank Jr concussed Avni Yıldırım with a powerful two-punch combination in the third round of their October 7 bout, one week before Groves sent Jamie Cox to the canvas with a savage body-shot at Wembley Arena in London.
The victories set Eubank Jr and Groves on an intriguing collision course for next year. According to Sauerland, fans can expect a “lively” build-up and a “hell of a fight” when Groves and Eubank trade blows at the 21,000 capacity Manchester Arena on February 17, 2018.
“Here, you have two absolute showmen who love the big stage,” Sauerland told Business Insider. “Eubank Jr has grown up in a family around the big stage and he’s firmly in the limelight. This is by the far the biggest fight he has ever been involved in. He’s a natural-born star.”
Since losing a close fight to Billy Joe Saunders in 2014, Eubank Jr has rebuilt his career with a succession of eight victories – seven of which have been devastating knockouts.
Groves, though, has greater experience on the big stage, having boxed at Wembley Stadium in London, Bramall Lane in Sheffield, and even in Las Vegas.
“George is used to big fight build-ups,” Sauerland says. “They’re both performers on both sides of the ropes so I expect a lively build-up. It won’t be trashy, but there certainly will be no love lost.
He added: “There will be psychological warfare – a real battle of wits and fists. It has already kicked off behind the scenes, let’s put it that way!
“In terms of the fight, as a fan, it just makes you salivate,” Sauerland said, before adding that it’s this kind of match-up that highlights “what the Ali Trophy stands for” – the title the super middleweight tournament champion receives.
He says: “They are both fighters, warriors, and we will get one hell of a fight.”
— WBSuperSeries (@WBSuperSeries) November 28, 2017
A fight for the whole nation
Groves’ WBA super middleweight world title and Eubank Jr’s IBO super middleweight belt will both be on the line. But, perhaps more significantly, a place in the World Boxing Super Series final and a step closer to a payday worth millions awaits the winner.
When the Groves vs Eubank Jr semi-final was announced, there was a suggestion that the showdown would be big enough to warrant a stadium fight, but Sauerland is happy to have landed “a great arena like Manchester.”
“We’ve booked a date at the Manchester Arena on February 17,” he confirmed. “It’s Europe’s largest-built indoor arena. And we’re delighted to be on that stage.”
He added: “This has nothing to do with Chris’ hometown Brighton, or London, where George is from. This fight transcends towns and cities – it’s a fight for the whole nation.
He added that they “looked at Arsenal stadium and had long discussions with them. We also had long discussions with Fulham.”
This is depsite the fact that the fight is in February, colliding with the football calendar and possible bad weather.
“Ultimately [protecting] the pitch is the biggest concern,” Sauerland said. “It was never a concern in my mind in terms of the weather. We promoted Wladimir Klitschko versus David Haye in Hamburg in the middle of the summer in 2011 and guess what, it was a monsoon… in July! Anything can happen.”
- World Series of Boxing
“I’ve had great nights at the Manchester Arena,” he added. “We’ve been there as promoters, co-promoters, and even as fans as kids. I even watched Chris Eubank Sr, Jr’s dad, fight Carl Thompson there.
“It will be a cracking atmosphere and we’re equipping the undercard with good, quality fights which will be announced in due course,” he added.
“We targeted 2017 as the year to create the fastest-moving brand in all of sports and this big UK fight with Groves and Eubank is up there as one of the biggest in the decade.”
The fight will be broadcast live on ITV Box Office.