Liverpool native Callum Smith ended the world title reign of ‘The Saint’ George Groves on Friday night.
In doing so, Smith reclaimed the WBC Diamond strap and claimed the WBA (Super) super-middleweight title, Ring magazine title as well as the Mohammed Ali trophy.
Callum becomes the second Smith brother to claim a world title, after brother Liam who claimed the WBO light-middleweight title in 2015. Brother’s Stephen and Paul are also accomplished professional boxers, both challenging for world titles in the past. All four have held British title as well.
Excitement after a slow start
The fight began a cagey affair, neither wanting to be drawn into a dogfight. Groves looked to establish his jab but catch-right counters by his opponent kept Groves on his toes.
Smith was happy to stay at range, knowing his height and reach advantage over Groves. In the third, Smith landed clean shots in the third and fourth that rocked Groves on to the ropes. Smith remained patient, Groves stayed behind his jab. The fight began slowly but picked up as both settled into a groove.
Groves looked to have found his rhythm in round five, backing up to the ropes only to use excellent footwork to reverse position and back Smith up. That however changed in the seventh.
A perfectly timed left sent Groves’ legs into jelly mode, and he backed onto the ropes. Smith began a lethal combination of body hooks and head-shots, and Groves eventually crumbled to the canvas.
Speaking after the fight, Groves made no excuses
“I’ve never been hurt by a body shot in my life. We knew he could punch and he showed that.”
“The shoulder worked. I’m not here to make excuses. He was the better man on the night.”
“I’m going to have a good rest for now. It’s been a dogged year. I’m not retiring, but we’ll see.”
Smith was similarly humble in victory
“We knew Groves could sit and wait all night. But I knew I could do it myself and it was a bit of chess-match. I just got that big shot off first.”
“I’d like to wish George good luck whether he carries on or not.”
Despite looking to be in control of the fight, and landing cleaner in the opening rounds, Groves was in fact ahead on the cards.
??? GROVES WAS AHEAD ON CARDS:
George Groves was well ahead on the scorecards after six rounds before the KO.
— Boxing-UK ??? (@Boxing_UK_) September 28, 2018
One judge scoring the fight 59-55 for Groves, one 59-55 for Smith, and the third judge 58-56 ‘The Saint’. The disparity between the judges is striking and points to a broader problem with the judging of boxing.
Smith, however, showed that the judges were not required. And after a somewhat lackluster performance against Dutch kickboxer, Nieky Holzken, he has earned his stripes and has the claim to be the best super-middleweight on the planet.