In the surreal setting of Jedda, Saudi Arabia on Friday night, Liverpool’s Callum Smith announced himself as the new dominate force in the Super Middleweight ranks, as he dismantled the previously acknowledged division kingpin George Groves in 7 measured rounds.
Coming off the back of some of the best showing’s of his career, Groves went into the bout as the slight betting favourite, but his experience at elite level was no match for the physical advantages enjoyed by Smith.
Standing at 6’3, Liverpool’s Smith cuts an imposing figure for a 12 stoner and he utilized his 4” height and 6” reach advantages to perfection – as his disciplined approach proved too much for Groves to overcome.
It was a closely contested battle, with many ringside observers having the scorecards level at the time of the stoppage, however it was a fight in which Smith grew in stature and confidence, as it became clear that Groves was struggling to close the distance and get in to the range where he could provide a threat.
Often as Groves advanced, Smith would simply lean his huge frame back, without the necessity of resetting his feet and then fire off his own counters, which raised several distress signals prior to the final onslaught in round 7.
The 1st telling sign came in the 3rd round, as Smith upped the pace a little and caught the advancing “St George” with a right hand to the temple, which had the Hammersmith man dipping at the knees. Again in round 6, a right hand punished Groves up against the ropes and the writing was perhaps on the wall.
When the end came in the 7th, it was a flush left hook that did the damage and had Groves reeling backwards, as the predatory Smith sensed the finish and went in for the kill, letting his hands rip with a silky fluidity.
Cornered with no escape route, Groves tried to ride the oncoming assault, until a right hook to the body took the resistance right out of him and the following right uppercut sent him to the canvas, unable to beat the count.
For Smith – on he will go to unification fights and quite likely a venture up to Light Heavyweight. For Groves at age 30, it isn’t impossible that he can rise again, however he has been involved in several tough fights and we know from history that its fights, not years, that age boxers.
On what was an active weekend for Merseyside boxing, Steve Brogan lifted the Central Area Lightweight Title, with victory in an intense battle with Yorkshire’s Brad Botham on VIP’s prospect stacked card at Liverpool Olympia.
In a closely fought battle the pair couldn’t be split after 8 rounds and it took a classy final 2 sessions for Brogan to sway the judge’s scorecards in his favour.
At 34 Brogan doesn’t have time as his ally, but with only 4 years as a pro he is relatively fresh, so he will be looking to capitalize and maneuver himself into a domestic title shot and a decent payday.
Elsewhere on the bill Luke Willis enjoyed his 8 round outing with a game Des Newton, extending his unbeaten record and continuing his run of not dropping a single round in his pro career to date.
Tom Farrell went 16 -1, securing his 2nd stoppage from 3, since the sole defeat of his career and he will now be on the alert, in the hope he gets a call for a big Sky Sports card.
There were also wins for Tom McGuinness, Danny Roberts, Nathan Quarless, Lloyd Campbell, Jay Farrell and Nathan Bennett.
The only disappointment for the VIP lads, was the reversal for Marcel Bratihwaite, who took his 1st defeat, but who will hopefully use it as a good lesson and bounce back to the form of which he is more than capable.
It doesn’t seem 5 years since the self-assured George Groves announced himself to the wider public with his pre ‘Froch’ fight bravado. In that time he has displayed courage and persistence and has enjoyed victory as well as defeat, in equal measure.
So if the VIP lads can learn anything from this weekend, it is that a defeat doesn’t spell the end and that determination to succeed is crucial to achieving their goals.
But like Callum Smith 100% was, when his moment to shine came, they need to be prepared, battle ready and seize their moment.