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Groves stuns DeGale to win epic domestic contest

ESPN staff
May 21, 2011

George Groves showed tremendous discipline to become the British and Commonwealth super-middleweight champion after outpointing rival James DeGale in a thrilling clash at London's O2 Arena.

DeGale's speed was a constant throughout the bout but Groves' surprise gameplan of hit and move earned him the 13th victory of his professional career - with two judges scoring the fight 115-114 while the other had it at 115-115.

After a tentative beginning, DeGale's superior hand speed became evident when he landed with a couple of sharp jabs. The Olympic gold medallist held the centre of the ring but it was Groves who landed with the cleaner shots and dominated the opening couple of rounds.

There were warning signs for Groves - when DeGale continued to apply the pressure, he showed the odd lapse in concentration and was left hitting air after swinging wildly.However, The Saint stuck to his rigid gameplan and served notice of his power, connecting with a straight right in the third which had DeGale momentarily off balance.

Both fighters continued to trade in the fourth, with Groves doing well to withstand a huge left hook, but he evaded many of DeGale's best shots to further frustrate his rival.

The start of the sixth proved a cagey affair, before DeGale rocked Groves with a series of telling blows, and it was clear Groves was starting to tire - he only threw 10 punches in the round.

There was little in the way of action in the seventh and eighth but the fight came to the boil in the ninth as Groves walked on to a straight right from DeGale, who proceeded to unload a barrage of heavy punches. Groves saw the bell and soon found a second wind, responding with a flurry of his own in the next round, finding DeGale's ribs with some fierce body shots.

Although it was DeGale who looked the fresher of the two heading into the championship rounds, Groves, partially blinded due to streaming blood from a cut above his eye, refused to take a backward step. Both boxers pushed for the knockout as the fight neared its conclusion, but ultimately, it was Groves who had done enough to impress the judges when it went to the scorecards.

Earlier, Nathan Cleverly made a successful first defence of his WBO light-heavyweight title, stopping little-known Aleksy Kuziemski in the fourth round.

Cleverly, who was upgraded from interim champion to full title holder earlier this week after Juergen Braehmer withdrew from their clash with injury, struggled to find his rhythm in the early exchanges as Kuziemski (21-2, 5KOs) happily boxed on the front foot.

Cleverly soon took control, however, and, after appearing to break his opponent's nose in the second round, the 24-year-old opened up a cut midway through the fourth. With blood pouring from Zuziemski's face, the referee brought the contest to a halt to hand Cleverly a 22nd straight victory as a professional.

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