On Friday, September 28, 2018, George Groves and Callum Smith entered the ring to close out the first season of the World Boxing Super Series and attempt to claim the Muhammad Ali Trophy in the Super Middleweight.
The lively crowd at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia enjoyed every minute of the contest which ended with a seventh-round knockout in favor of Callum Smith.
The all British-battle between the tournament’s top two seeds had a lot on the line, including the 168-pound Ring Magazine title.
Groves, the defending WBA Super World Champion, was fighting for the first since injuring his right shoulder. Groves arrived in the final after impressive victories over countrymen Jamie Cox and Chris Eubank Jr.
Smith, the WBC Diamond titlist and youngest of four fighting brothers, secured his spot in the final of the tournament with decision wins over Erik Skoglund and Nieky Holzken.
It was high-level boxing early on in the bout with both men looking to work behind the jab in the first two rounds and establish their dominance.
Round 3 provided high action and exciting exchanges as Groves started things by snapping Smith’s head back with a solid jab-straight combination. But as Groves unleashed a hard right hand moments later, Smith rocked and wobbled his opponent with a short overhand right that landed first.
Smith forced his way forward the rest of the round after seeing that Groves had been shaken up. But to his credit, Groves fought well as he looked to get his legs back under him.
Through five rounds, the WBSS unofficial scorer had the bout all knotted up at 57-57. Indeed, you had the feeling that the contest was really close and that either man was in position to take over.
At times, Groves’ well-placed right hands to the body seemed to be pushing Groves ahead, but then Smith would trap the WBA champion against the ropes and unleash some effective combinations up top.
The tight contest continued into Round 7 until Smith changed things with a beautifully placed counter left hook.
As Groves reached with a powerful right hand, Smith came back with a short left hook which would spell the beginning of the end.
Groves wobbled back to the ropes as Smith pounced, putting power punches together including a vicious right hand shot to the body which took everything out of Groves who crumpled to the canvas.
Although referee Luis Pabon gave Groves the opportunity to rise with the full 10 count, Groves simply didn’t have it in him.
Smith officially finished things at 2:04 of Round 7 and he now has tons of options in the 168-pound division.
“I’ve said for a long time I’m a big believer in my ability,” said Smith after the fight. “I felt I was ahead at the time of the stoppage.”
Much was made about Groves’ world-class experience before the fight, which is why Smith took particular pride in the style of fight he fought.
“I was more pleased because I was beating him at his own game,” said Smith. “People thought I couldn’t cope with him.”
For Groves, the loss is yet another let down in a career filled with ups and downs.
“It’s just not meant to be,” said Groves. “Full credit to Callum. He boxed well and very heavy handed. He’s done a fantastic job.”
Although many people may call for Groves to hang up the gloves, he stated that he’s not retiring but will look to take a rest after a difficult stretch of fights.