7th November 2011

George Groves retains his belts – by Al Stevenson
George Groves left no doubt that he is the main man in Britain at super-middleweight, by stopping Paul Smith in the second round in defence of his British and Commonwealth title’s at Wembley Arena on Saturday night.

The opening session of this eagerly awaited domestic clash was a some what of feeling out affair, with both looking for opening’s behind the jab.

Groves was happy to keep Smith at bay while he in turn looked to pounce in range and land scoring shots on ‘The Saint’.

With seconds to go in the round, Smith countered one of Groves’ jabs and came over the top with a big right hand, followed by a left hook that stunned Groves and stiffened his legs. But as Smith followed up with another right hand the bell sounded to bring a close to round one.

Groves’ head seemed to clear instantly and he shown no ill effects from the power of the shots that gave Smith 29, a share of the round. The fight had looked like it may be turning into a bit of a chess match, but the tension was there and you had the feeling you couldn’t take your eye off it for a second and them last few punches from Smith proved that.

The second round started the same way, both working behind their bread and butter shots. Groves 23, was jabbing to the body, hoping for Smith to drop his guard. Groves’ jab was fast, sharp and he was doubling it up. It was a useful weapon that began to pierce through the guard of Smith as he came on.
Then the opening came and Groves fainting his jab again to the body, threw a twisted right hook that landed on Smith’s jaw, as he dropped his left hand for a Milli-second while throwing his own right hand. Smith went down and was hurt as the referee counted.
The Liverpool boxer rose but was unsteady, he was waved forward to carry on, but was not in control of his legs or senses and Groves sensing his moment, steamed in with a big right to the top of Smith’s head that had him down again, just as the referee jumped in and stopped the fight. Smith did get to his feet, but the ref had seen enough and believed Smith too concussed to go on.

Before the fight opinions were mixed on the outcome, many thought Smith, now under new trainer Joe Gallagher could reignite his career and cause an upset. Smith’s power was said to be his chance of victory with Groves having been shaken up before. But after Smith’s first round success it was Groves who went on to prove he too has KO power in his shots.

The right hand Groves threw in the finishing sequence, that effectively ended the contest was quick and timed to perfection and had maximum effect. Smith did well to get to his feet, now having watched the fight back, but Groves was sharp and hungry and finished his man like a champion.

Promoter Frank Warren and trainer Adam Booth said after the fight that because of the early night’s work, that they would like Groves to fight again in December, possibly an eight rounder. Chances are though it will be an early new year fight and a return match-up with Scotland’s Kenny Anderson could be on the cards.

For Smith a move down to middleweight is a possible next step, he can come again but Groves is making a name for himself and improving, this was just his 13th professional fight and the former two time ABA champion was focused and in the zone from the dressing room ring walk and throughout the contest. He will hope to continue his blossoming career with bigger fights now, but don’t mention James DeGale! Well not just yet!

By Chris Maylett
Pics by Al Stevenson – copyrighted