Undefeated super middleweight contender George Groves has declared himself ready for a title shot after retaining his Commonwealth belt with an emphatic, one-sided decision over Jamaican veteran Glen Johnson at London Dockland’s ExCel Arena on Saturday.
In what proved an impressive end to a frustrating year hampered by niggling injuries, Englishman Groves, 24, was way too fast and strong for his 43-year-old opponent.
Perhaps the only blot was his failure to stop the ever-durable Johnson (51-18-2, 35 knockouts) as Groves promised to do in the build-up. Officially, he did drop Johnson in the dying seconds of the final round, though TV replays suggested it was more a slip than a punch to blame.
Not that it mattered and not that too many had seriously expected a knockout anyway. After all, Bernard Hopkins was — and still is — the only one to have managed that feat against Miami-based warrior Johnson.
Post-fight Groves (16-0, 12 KOs) acknowledged such, paying tribute to the the challenger’s extraordinary resilience and stating that going the distance with someone who has been in with the best time and again had been a real eye-opener.
“I am very happy with that and I have learned such a lot from the fight,” said THE RING’s No. 8-rated super middleweight. “On more than one occasion, I thought Glen Johnson was out on his feet but he wasn’t.
“Now I have even more respect for Bernard Hopkins and I know why nobody else has stopped Johnson. Whenever I thought I had him, he was just too experienced and started to outbox me.”
Groves underlined that he belongs among the leading lights at 168 pounds by taking every round, except the second, by a clear margin against Johnson, who has now lost four on the bounce. The judges scores were 120-107, 120-107, 119-109.
“I am definitely not far off a world title now,” said the west Londoner. “If something comes up, then I’ll grab it with both hands. If the challenge is put in front of me, I will rise to it. That’s what I always believe.
“But I’m still only 24 and this fight has shown me that I need to get even fitter and stronger because at this level these guys don’t just crumble — especially Glen Johnson!”
Photo / Scott Heavey-Gettyimages