• George Groves v Paul Smith

Groves knocks out Smith to light up Wembley Arena

ESPN staff
November 5, 2011
George Groves is still undefeated as a professional © PA Photos

George Groves blew away Paul Smith inside two rounds to successfully defend his British and Commonwealth super-middleweight titles and enhance his growing reputation as one of Britain's finest prospects.

The 23-year-old, who entered the contest at Wembley Arena on the back of 13 straight wins, was in no mood to hang around as he ripped through Smith's defences, prompting referee Victor Loughlin to step in and stop the fight.

Fighting for the first time since relieving James DeGale of his British title in May - a belt DeGale claimed with victory over Smith last year - Groves began cautiously as both men looked to settle their way into the contest. After a cagey beginning, the pair traded shots before Smith breached Groves' defences with a late flurry before the bell.

Visibly angered by his defensive lapse, a fired up Groves tore into his opponent in the second and sent Smith to the canvas with a chopping right hand. Smith beat the count but he was all over the place and the referee rightly stepped in after Groves dished out more punishment.

"It was about using my sharp, front foot and my jab," Groves said. "I am maturing and hitting harder. These guys are getting bashed up pretty quick."

Former WBA heavyweight champion David Haye, Groves' former stablemate and training partner, was ringside for the fight and liked what he saw. He said: "I was over the moon, ecstatic. He's starting to do what he does in the gym in the ring. Paul Smith is a durable fighter but you saw how he was despatched."

Earlier in the night, Billy Joe Saunders picked up his first title as a professional in only his 11th fight, beating Gary Boulden on points to become the Southern Area middleweight champion.

Saunders, a 2008 Olympian, was made to work hard throughout his first 10-rounder before prevailing 99-92 on the referee's scorecard to maintain his unbeaten record. The 22-year-old had the better of the earlier rounds and threatened to knock his opponent out in the fourth, only for Boulden to respond with a rally of his own in the fifth.

Saunders regrouped, however, coming back strongly to rock Boulden with a shuddering left hook in the ninth - which Boulden somehow withstood - and he closed out the contest as he had started it, putting Boulden onto the back foot with some eye-catching combinations.

"It's something I've been missing my whole career - a good 10 rounds under my belt," Saunders said. "Money can't buy that. It's better than all the knockouts. Now I know I've got to go back into the gym and learn how to deal with that."

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