Roy Gumbs has a unique claim to fame.
The former British and Commonwealth middleweight champion was the first British licence holder to challenge for the world Super-middleweight title when he travelled to South Korea to face the IBF Champion Chong Pal Park in 1985.
It began a long and proud tradition for British fighters in the super-middleweight division which continues this weekend with an all British world title fight.
George Groves the WBA ‘Super’ World Super-middleweight champion defends his title against the enigmatic IBO Super-Middleweight champion, Chris Eubank Jr on the 17th February in the Manchester Arena. The bout is one half of the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament.
Speaking to AboutBoxing.net on the phone from his home in Dubai, Roy Gumbs seems genuinely excited about this domestic battle for world honours.
“I think the clash of styles will make it one of the most exciting fights of the year in England,” he says.
“They are both hyped, this thing has been in the making for a while. They are both confident, they are both ready and I think that’s what will make this a great fight.”
The fight seems to have all the elements of being a potential classic. George Groves is approaching the stage of his career where it seems appropriate to call him a veteran. A classic boxer-puncher with solid amateur pedigree, he announced himself on the world stage with his gallant challenges in 2013 and 2014 against Carl Froch but it took him another two attempts before he finally lifted a world title with his sixth round stoppage of Fedor Chudinov in May 2017.
The fight against Chris Eubank Jr will be Groves’ second defence of his ‘Super’ WBA title.
While Groves has a good amateur pedigree and solid professional credentials, Chris Eubank Jr has had a rather unorthodox approach to a career in professional boxing. Guided by his father, the former WBO Super-Middleweight champion Chris Eubank Sr. Junior has essentially honed his craft in professional gyms in America.
Eubank Jr’s style is flashy, relying on his athleticism, hand speed and his trademark uppercuts. Like his father he has a flair for the dramatic, albeit a much more subtle approach.
The biggest names on his resume include Billy Joe Saunders who inflicted the only professional loss on his record in November 2014, Gary ‘Spike,’ O’Sullivan who he stopped in seven rounds in December 2015 and Arthur Abraham who Eubank Jr defeated by a rather lob sided decision in July 2017.
For Roy Gumbs he believes the result will be decided by boxing fundamentals. “I think the one who will stay on the front foot for most part will win the fight. They are both gutsy fighters so it’s a matter of who wants to win the most, who has got the bigger heart and who’s not just looking for the banana skin on the canvas.”
There have been question marks over Groves stamina in the past, he was stopped in the 8th and 9th rounds of his fights with Froch and he seemed to fade in the later rounds of his fight with Badou Jack in 2015. However since then he has teamed up with current trainer Shane McGuigan, winning four of his last six by stoppage.
The fight with Groves will be Eubank Jr’s fourth fight in the Super-Middleweight division. He has fought for most of his career at middleweight and the highest profile name he has beaten at super-middleweight was a 37 year old Arthur Abraham. Eubank Jr’s record may flatter to deceive meaning the Groves fight may finally settle the argument on whether Junior is a legitimate Super-Middleweight or not.
Speaking to Roy Gumbs it becomes apparent that he sees the outcome of the fight being decided by an old boxing adage.
“Groves is accustomed to fighting bigger men,” says Gumbs, “He is used to being in there with bigger men and pushing them around. In my day we used to say, ‘a good big ‘un usually beats a good small ‘un.’”
Perhaps the most positive thing about Groves v Eubank Jr is that it has been made possible by the advent of the WBSS. Some have argued that the knockout style tournament is the future of professional boxing and this is something that is shared by the former British and Commonwealth champion.
“With so many sanctioning bodies in boxing it has taken away from the sport. You want to see the best fighters fighting for the title, but with the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, what you really get is the best ‘contenders,’ fighting each other and it dilutes the standard of what is meant by ‘championship.”
“At least the WBSS is a good opportunity for champions coming through and to ensure the best fighters are fighting for the title.”
It had been hoped that the eventual winner of the WBSS would fight James DeGale, but the former IBF Super-Middleweight champion was recently dethroned by American Caleb Truax in a stunning upset.
Roy Gumbs who knows a thing or two about set-backs in his career provides these comforting words to the former champ, “My advice to James, is to remember that champions were once contenders who refused to give up. I think he’s got a lot going for him and he should stay with it.”
Roy Gumbs currently resides in Dubai with his wife but there is never a dull moment for the former British and Commonwealth middleweight champion. In 2016 he featured in the Fighting Fit Dubai TV show as the resident boxing expert, helping train white collar fighters for a televised boxing tournament.
Roy is not the only member of the Gumbs household involved in the showbiz industry. Roy’s son, Dwayne Gumbs is currently crowd funding a short film that he has written. ‘Holy Beef,’ is a comedy following a day in the life of a young and up and coming group of Grime MCs. The film is part of Film London’s prestigious London Calling Scheme.
As expected Roy Gumbs is very supportive of his son’s project, “Kudos to my son, he has gone out there and rolled up his sleeves and got stuck into a field that is as brutal as boxing. He has done a great job so far and my whole heart goes out to him.”
Groves v Eubank Jr is a pay-per-view event and is available through ITV Box Office. Coverage on ITV Box Office begins at 7pm on the 17th February 2018.
To view the ‘Holy Beef,’ Crowd Funding page please follow this link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/holy-beef-a-short-comedy-backed-by-film-london-music