• George Groves v Christopher Rebrasse

Groves puts Froch behind him to earn third world title shot

Rob Bartlett
September 20, 2014
George Groves was industrial and professional against Christopher Rebrasse © Getty Images
Enlarge

George Groves put successive world title defeats to Carl Froch behind him with a professional performance on his return to the ring to beat Christopher Rebrasse and claim the European super-middleweight title.

Groves' career was left in tatters following back-to-back losses to Froch; first, albeit controversially, he went down in Manchester last November before the 'Cobra' made no mistake at their Wembley in May.

Groves pleased with return showing

  • After a winning return to the ring, George Groves was pleased to walk away having had a proper test to earn his new European super-middleweight belt.
  • "It feels great. That was a tough fight. The crowd really helped me through. Rebrasse was a good opponent, a tough guy," Groves told Sky Sports.
  • "We knew it was going to be tough. I always like to feel I deal with pressure well. This is show business. I want to knock people out, I didn't manage it but I gave it a good go."
  • On WBC champion Anthony Dirrall, Groves added: "He's said he doesn't want to come to the UK but we might just make him."

But the 26-year-old ran out a deserved unanimous decision against Rebrasse, which earned him the European belt, vacant WBC silver super-middleweight title and a shot at WBC champion Anthony Dirrell.

A return to Wembley - well, the Arena at least - beckoned for Groves. He promised a spectacular entrance and the 6,000-strong crowd were not disappointed; the Hammersmith-born fighter walked out among fire and trumpets to the apt "When the Saints Go Marching In."

And march in he did. The opening round proved a comfortable one for the challenger as Groves landed several key left jabs and a notable right hook. Rebrasse, static at times, responded with a jab of his own but was kept mostly on the defence by Groves' speed.

Groves maintained his pacey start in the second with a plethora of jabs before he landed a brilliant left-right combo on his opponent who, at the end of the round, had a bloody nose to show for his defensive efforts.

Another brilliant right from Groves was followed by a beautifully-timed uppercut as Rebrasse began to take serious punishment in the third, but ultimately showed no signs of surrender. The fourth was almost a carbon copy of the previous round; while Rebrasse busied himself a bit more, Groves ultimately landed the shots that counted, particularly with two hooks shortly before the bell.

A tight round five saw neither fighter take the initiative, but Groves returned to his busy self in the sixth with another succession of left jabs. The hook similarly returned, but the Londoner was troubled by a Rebrasse left on the chin; a reminder the fight was far from over. The seventh was similar, with the champion clearly waiting on the back foot to see if Groves would tire like he did against Froch.

Campbell impresses on Wembley undercard

  • Earlier on the bill, Hull's Olympic champion Luke Campbell earned a superb seventh-round stoppage victory against the experienced Krzysztof Szot.
  • Szot had only previously been stopped twice in his professional career but lightweight Campbell gave a performance of true class to dismiss the 36-year-old.
  • A powerful left-hook was enough to put Szot to his knees in the seventh and the Argentinian failed to survive referee Michael Alexander's count.
  • Campbell next faces Daniel Eduardo Brizuela for the vacant WBA inter-continental lightweight title in his native Hull on October 25.

However, it was Rebrasse who appeared spent in round eight; after a brief resurgence from the Frenchman, Groves countered and had his opponent stuck on the ropes with several hard shots. Rebrasse responded in the ninth and landed more combinations than his opponent.

Rebrasse has never been stopped in his professional career and showed why in the 10th as he took a barrage of heavy punishment from Groves. Lefts followed rights at a rapid-fire rate of knots but it was the Londoner who looked tired towards the end of the round.

Groves landed another big right towards the end of the 11th before trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick sensibly warned him not "to try and knock this dude out". Fitzpatrick then stated "we do not repeat mistakes", a nod in the direction of what cost Groves the Froch fight.

He did not disappoint and showed reborn maturity in the final round to close out victory - having done so by throwing nearly 1000 punches - and earn his third shot at a world title.

Lukas Podolski, Rory McIlroy and Mesut Ozil were all in attendance for the return of George Groves © Getty Images
Enlarge
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close