The much anticipated World Boxing Super Series clash between George Groves and Chris Eubank Junior lived up to its hype in Manchester last night, but was affected greatly by a head clash early on, which the defeated Eubank claims was intentional.
The third round saw WBA champion Groves and IBF title holder Eubank come together against the ropes and the resulting head contact left the latter with an immediate visible and deep cut above his right eye.
Blood would stream down the fighter's eye for the remainder of the 12 round super middleweight tie.
With both men boxing for a spot in the grand final of the revolutionary World Boxing Super Series eight-man event, Eubank claimed after the fight:
"George head butted me a lot in the fight... I don't know how he didn't get points taken away from him but this is one on one combat.
“You do what you have to do and that’s what he did.
“I couldn’t see out my right eye for pretty much most of the fight and that affected my style.
“I had to resort to loading up because every time he moved to my right, I couldn’t see him, so I would just throw big punches.
“Tactics is a big thing and tactically he did the right thing.
“He negated some of my work early on.
Although the referees final verdict for a 29-year-old Groves win was unanimous, Brighton-based Eubank felt the bout was closer than the judges scorecards suggested.
"He negated some of my work early on... but I felt in later rounds I was hitting him with a lot of shots and hurting him."
Although full of the famed Eubank family bravado in the build-up to the contest, the son of British boxing icon Chris Eubank Senior conceded his opponent's class had impressed him.
"I felt I did enough in the later rounds to nick it, but George had a great game plan... all credit to him."
Eubank wasn't the only one to come away from the all-British bout with an injury, however, as Groves visibly winced in the final round which was diagnosed as a dislocated shoulder shortly after the final bell.
With the final of the knockout event taking place in June, the Hammersmith-based fighter will have little time to recover and train in preparation for the event.
This could leave the door open for Eubank to face the winner of the opposing semi-final which takes place in Germany next week between Brit Callum Smith and the German Juergen Breahmer.
The winner will take home the inaugural Muhammed Ali trophy and the lions share of £50million.
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