George Groves looks to rebound from his Wembley stadium knockout and get back in the world title hunt.
Tonight on Sky Sports, George Groves (19-2) returns to the ring following his crushing 8th round defeat to Carl Froch back in May. Wembley is again the venue, but this time it’s the smaller indoor arena rather that the outdoor stadium. The opponent is European champion Christopher Rebrasse (22-2-3).
Rebrasse, a non puncher, is solid, but figures to be a clear level below Groves and shouldn’t pose much of a threat to The Saint’s chin, as the 26 year old looks to put the Froch KO behind him. A win will net Groves the European title and put him in line for a shot at the WBC title held by Anthony Dirrell.
Some quick undercard notes before we move on to the headliner: the Yafai brothers each picked up TV wins to open up the broadcast. Khalid demolished Herald Molina in two rounds to move to 12-0. While younger brother Gamal progressed to 4-0, but was made to work for it by going the full 6 round distance for the first time against a tough Sofiane Bellahcene. I picked Kal as my one to watch in our 2012 awards. It’s taken him a little bit longer than I expected to move up the ranks, but I think he’s ready for a major step up over the next 12 months. There’s massive potential there and he is starting to put it together more and more with each fight.
In the chief support, Olympic Gold Medalist Luke Campbell finished off the rarely stopped Journeyman Krzysztof Szot in the 7th round. Campbell, now 8-0, started off slow but moved up through the gears as the rounds went by and eventual broke down Szot – putting him down midway through the 7th and forcing the stoppage shortly thereafter. Campbell has his first real step up fight scheduled for next month against Daniel Brizuela.
The main event is up next.
George Groves Vs Christopher Rebrasse Round By Round
A good atmosphere is building in the arena as the first bell approaches after a pretty subdued response to the prelim bouts. Groves walks first as the challenger and gets the big star treatment. Big intro with a band playing ‘When The Saints Go Marching in’ before transitioning into The Prodigy’s ‘Spitfire’. Groves enters lead by fire jugglers and pyro, looking determined and focused. Rebrasse comes out to ‘Eye Of The Tiger’.
Battle of the jabs early. Groves is getting the better of it; he’s the more active and accurate, but does get caught a couple of times in return from the French fighter. Groves is looking for the righthand, but the opening’s not there just yet. 10-9 Groves
The hand-speed is the major difference so far. Groves is just that bit sharper. Rebrasse has got his defenses together in this round and is starting to make himself a more difficult target. Groves looks prepared to stand and trade more. One gets the feeling he’s felt his opponents power and has little fear of it. 10-9 Groves but closer round.
Groves is setting his feet and looking for the big shots. He had Rebrasse rocked at-least once in the round. He is putting a lot into these rounds, so you just wonder how his stamina holds up if this gets to the second half of the fight. Another clear Groves round though.
This is a good action fight. Rebrasse had his moments in this round. He landed a handful of really solid shots, but never troubled Groves. To be fair though, he has taken everything Groves has dished out well too. A tough customer for sure. Close round again, but Groves still doing that bit more.
Groves has started to box a bit more cautiously now. Perhaps he’s starting to see this as more of a distance fight. Rebrasse scored a few crisp shots in this one and with Groves decreased output, for me, it was enough to take the round, only just.
Strong Groves round. He does well at controlling the distance with the jab in the sixth. It’s his most effective weapon so far in this one. I think if he just focuses on getting the jab home, the openings will come elsewhere too. 10-9 Groves
Toe to toe again in this round. Some clever little work from Groves; getting off the combinations and then taking a slight step to the side and pushing through with more shots. George has to be miles ahead on the card, but it’s these next few rounds which will tell us how his cardio and strength are holding up.
Rebrasse has been in this fight, but he’s just always coming off second best. He’s given a solid account of himself, but you can’t see any way for him to turn this around. Groves is a level above him – unless George hits the wall hard, he has this in the bag. Will he be content with a points win though?
Slower round, fought in bursts, but Groves always has the last word in each exchange. Paddy Fitzpatrick is really talking up Groves’s conditioning in the corner and telling him not to let himself believe that he’s tired because he isn’t. It appeared he felt his fighter was beginning to find this heavy weather.
Rebrasse has had to take his licks in this fight and he’s at no point ever looked in major trouble. Groves pummels away but can’t move him.I don’t think he’s going anywhere. 10-9 Groves
Groves is very definitely tired now. He’s working through it, but he’s massively dropped the pace and occasionally falling into Rebrasse and grabbing hold. He’s told to forget about the knockout by his corner at the end of the round. They want him to stay safe and be sure of the win. Rebrasse gets his second round.
Groves obeys his corner and boxes to the final bell. He wins the round, just about, and the fight by a stretch. I have it 10-2 in favour of The Saint, but it could in reality be a shut out.
Winner: George Groves by unanimous decision (118-110, 117-111, 118-110)
I’m not sure what the takeaway is from this one. Groves won decisively and looked an obvious step or two above a very decent opponent. I’m not sure it was the statement win he would have wanted that puts the division on notice though. In the plus column, he got the show back on the road and put himself in position to fight for another title. Rebrasse’s stock rises in spite of the defeat. He came into this quite lightly thought of and he showed that he was tough and could compete with a high level fighter.
Groves called out Anthony Dirrell in the post fight. He said Dirrell, who was disparaging of Rebrasse as an opponent, wouldn’t have taken some of the shots Rebrasse stood up to tonight. He also asked Froch (who was on the TV panel) for a third fight, but did so respectfully, giving Carl credit for beating him. Froch sort of laughed it off, saying there was no need for a third fight in a 2-0 sweep, but complemented Groves for having the guts to want another shot after being flattened last time. I don’t see that one being a runner. Dirrell/Groves should happen tough. It’s the fight that makes most sense for both guys right now.