No-one should be left in any doubt after witnessing George Groves’s victory over James DeGale in front of a packed crowd at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night that poetic justice is the sweetest kind there is.
In the lead-up to the fight, DeGale and his camp had engaged in a relentless and malicious campaign of personal abuse against Groves, one that went far beyond any pre-fight hype designed to generate ticket sales and pay-per-view subscriptions.
It was nasty to watch – so much so that by fight night probably 90 per cent of those watching ringside and at home wanted nothing more than to see the Olympic gold medal winner and now former British super middleweight champion being made to eat his words.
Making his defeat all the sweeter was DeGale’s insistence with a handshake at the pre-fight press conference on a side bet with his opponent, with the winner taking both purses.
Humble pie has never smelt so good.
Fortunately for the sport, and for the enduring power of natural justice, in direct proportion to DeGale and his camp’s arrogance, lack of class and respect, Groves and his camp proved themselves the epitome of professionalism, dignity and equanimity throughout.
Not only that, most crucially they did their talking where it counts, in the process upsetting the bookies, pundits and the result expected by the vast majority who turned up and tuned in to watch the action unfold.
As a fight it was more chess than checkers, with Groves and Booth clearly having done their homework.
DeGale was handed a lesson in discipline and tactics as the Commonwealth champion Groves doggedly stuck to the gameplan of remaining on the back foot, from where he spent the entire night frustrating his opponent, who’d arrived in the ring expecting a gunfight and, as the night unfolded, clearly lacked any plan B.
No matter, DeGale managed to find purchase in the later rounds and wobbled his opponent in the ninth with a stunning left-hook right-hand combination.
But Groves equally was finding the target with a fast jab and straight rights, timing them to counter DeGale as he came forward.
The refusal of either boxer to give way was evident in the blood that poured from both their faces going into the 10th round.
Though DeGale looked the stronger in the home stretch Groves had put in enough of a shift in the earlier rounds to take the fight on the judges’ scorecards by 115-115, 115-114, and 115-114 to the rapturous acclaim of the overwhelming majority in attendance.
By John Wight courtesy of morningstaronline.co.uk
Our Build up and reports on the James DeGale vs George Groves Fight