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George Groves KOs Paul Smith In Two Rounds

''Saint'' George is simply sensational in his most impressive victory to date

Any doubts as to the world-class of British and Commonwealth super middleweight champion George Groves were dispelled in  less than eight sensational minutes on Saturday night when he retained his titles with a dramatic second round knockout over former champion Paul Smith of Liverpool. Simply put, it was the most impressive performance yet by the young fighter from Hammersmith, and based on this evidence, his breathtaking combination of poise, balance, boxing skill and knockout power could yet take him to the very top in the toughest division in world boxing today.

23-year-old Groves had entered the ring at the Wembley Arena on Saturday night as a slight pre-fight favorite against an opponent that the general consensus was would give him at the very least an extremely hard night's work. Paul Smith may not possess the flashy skills of Groves or James DeGale - the man who had relieved the proud scouser of his British title in 2010 before subsequently losing it himself to Groves - but he is a solid boxer-puncher with a high work rate and tremendous determination. It was not for nothing that Smith had been ranked as high as number three at super middleweight by the WBO prior to losing his title to DeGale.

Although both men are listed as standing 5'11" tall, one can only assume that the figures regarding Groves were taken when he was a teenager, because he must now surely be a solid 6'1", and looked by far the bigger man in the ring on Saturday night. 

Groves began the fight impressively, taking the center of the ring and pumping out his long left jab against the bustling, aggressive Smith. Groves was dominating  the round and looked in complete control until in the dying seconds he was caught flush on the side of the face by a tremendous right-hand from Smith. 

Had the punch landed 10 seconds earlier and Smith been able to follow-up with a couple more big bombs, Groves may well have gone down, but instead he headed back to his corner and his waiting trainer Adam Booth with a look of anger and grim determination set in his features.

No doubt bolstered by his late success in the first round, Smith began round two with all guns blazing. The round was but seconds old when Groves countered a Smith attack with a perfect right hook that landed flush on the chin, depositing the challenger in a heap on the canvass. Smith beat the count but clearly his legs had gone. Referee Victor Loughlin allowed the bout to continue but when another Groves flurry put Smith down a second time, the referee promptly signaled the end of the fight. 
A furious Smith clearly believed the contest had been stopped too soon, but in reality had the referee allowed the bout to continue, Smith would surely have been knocked cold by Groves' next attack.

Groves raised his record to 14-0 with 11 KOs while 29 year old Smith's ledger dropped to 31-3 with 17 KOs. The scouser can still be a force domestically and at European level, but in reality his chin has been found wanting against big super middleweights like DeGale and Groves, and a move back down to 160 lb may be a his most sensible option.

If ever the cliché 'onwards and upwards' was appropriate for any fighter, it surely applies to the career of  ''Saint'' George Groves right now. Lucian Bute was scheduled to defend his IBF super middleweight title against Glen Johnson in Québec later that night. On December 17, WBC champion Carl Froch goes head-to-head with WBA title holder Andre Ward in the final of the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic. In January, WBO kingpin Robert Stieglitz is scheduled to defend his crown against former three-time champion Mikkel Kessler. The super middleweights is currently the most exciting, competitive division in boxing, but at his current rate of improvement, it will not be long before Groves himself is rubbing shoulders with the elite of the 168 lb class.

After the fight, Groves spoke of boxing once more before the end of 2011. A rematch between Groves and DeGale in 2012 would now seem inevitable. DeGale won the European super middleweight title with a desperately close majority decision over tough Pole Piotr Wilczewski last month, and it is a title Groves would surely want to add to his growing collection. In that bout, DeGale was rocked repeatedly throughout, and based on the evidence of Saturday night, and Groves' menacingly impressive performance, the much anticipated return between Britain's top super middleweights may turn into something of a mismatch.
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George Groves KOs Paul Smith In Two Rounds

''Saint'' George is simply sensational in his most impressive victory to date

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