Groves had been expected to tire in the later stages but it was his smaller rival who was left throwing punches at thin air in the final round, although both men went to war from almost the first bell.
Eubank Jr did show signs of the speed that makes him such a dangerous opponent but Groves’ long jab and strength on the inside was enough keep him at bay and claim victory.
The build-up to the fight had toed the line rather impressively, both men confident and insisting they had the upper hand, but stopping short of the slagging match that these things can sometimes become.
The weigh-in was the peak of it, when Groves and Eubank Jr faced off practically touching noses – but neither man breaking eye contact or lifting an arm in anger.
The ring walks were something to behold. Eubank Jr was booed almost to a man, walking stoney-faced through the crowd with a stare fixed firmly ahead. Groves followed him, more bouncy and showing a few more nerves, but when the two men met in the ring, there was little quarter given.
A cagey opening round saw Groves expected box behind the rangy jab, but the second saw both men open up, Eubank Jr once trapping Groves in the corner.
However, round three saw Groves draw first blood as both men threw waves of punches in bunches.
The cut to the IBO champion looked bad, coming early in the round and leaving him covered in blood. But he didn’t seem slowed by it, doubling up on the jab effectively in an effort to get into range.
The expectation was that Groves, a true super-middleweight, would push former British middleweight champion Eubank Jr around on the inside and so it proved in rounds five and six, with the referee forced to call timeout in the second and warn both fighters about their conduct.
But Groves grew into the fight wonderfully, stepping right to avoid Eubank Jr’s lead left and more often than not, catching his man on the way in before shifting to avoid or block the resulting flurry of punches.
The animosity between the two seemed to grow as the fight went on, perhaps recalling the months of sparring they had been through and realising how much this win meant to each.
Eubank Jr’s speed was still a factor though, Groves reticent to move in for the kill even when his opponent appeared hurt. However, he was doing so with enough regularity to win the rounds and leave Eubank Jr struggling to move in without taking damage.