George Groves: 1 Year as a Pro…

10 11 2009

by David Simpson

George Groves capped a superb debut year as a professional with a mature, poised and hugely dominant performance over Belarussian champion Konstantin Makhankov on Saturday night.

grovesandbooth

Fighting on the Sky Box Office undercard of David Haye’s historic WBA World Heavyweight title triumph over human colossus Nickolai Valuev, Groves showed speed, movement, variety and a first rate jab that his tough Belarussian opponent had no answer to.

Groves-MakhankovFighting on German soil for the first time, Groves made the fight look easy as he outclassed Makhankov over 8 rounds to record a ‘shut-out’ points win, 80-72. However, on paper at least this should have been a far tougher test for the young pro, taking on an experienced fighter with 33 fights and some 197 rounds under his belt in comparison to Groves’s 20 rounds from 6 fights. Indeed, Makhankov is Champion in his native Belarus, has 15 wins, has been in with some fine fighters and was coming into the fight off the back of two victories. Yet Groves looked the more relaxed and confident of the two from the off, using his jab to great effect in the opening round to pick off Makhankov as he came forwards. The ‘Saint’ showed a mean right hand too as he continued to work well off his jab, mixing up punches to the body and head from different angles to keep the Belarussian out of range. The third round in particular was a masterclass from Groves as he hit and moved, making his opponent miss before landing left-right combinations and body shots that seemed to dispirit the Belarussian.

Makhankov soldiered on though, and looked to land the left hook and the overhand right as the fight progressed but Groves showed good defense, covering up well on the few, rare occasions that the Belarussian managed to close the distance. In his first six fights, Groves has displayed some ferocious punching power, recording five stoppages, and many would have expected him to turn the screw on the Belarussian and look for a stoppage. However, the young pro from Hammersmith showed patience and plenty of composure as he instead chose to box for the full 8 rounds, working the jab and a range of punches rather than trying to load up with bigger shots against an opponent who has only been stopped once in a 7 year pro career. It was undoubtedly a sensible and assured approach from Groves who admitted afterwards he had never intended to go for a stoppage, “They found me a durable opponent, a good fighter, so it was never my intention to try and load up and take him out tonight.”

“This evening was about coming out here and working on the stuff we did in the gym.” Groves told Sky Sports.

And what excellent work they have been doing in that Hayemaker gym. On the same night stablemate David Haye boxed the perfect fight to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World, George Groves completed his first year as a professional with his seventh win from seven fights in a slick, sharp and commanding display.

GROVESPSHONKO

Groves v Pshonko

It’s been a fine year for the ‘Saint’ who made his debut on the 15th November 2008. That too was a Haye undercard, against Monte Barrett at the O2, and it was fitting that he should round off the year fighting on Haye’s title triumph. Kirill Pshonko was the opponent for the ‘Saint’s’ first fight, a 6 round points win that gave an early look at the superb Groves jab. Notable too was the fact the bout was a 6 round contest, with most new pros fighting 4x3mins in the opening contests. However, Groves and his team decided to bypass that distance and go straight to 6×3’s – the distance they also chose for the next three fights, not that the saint needed that long.

Groves v Hignard

Groves v Hignard

Romaric Hignard was brutally outclassed as Groves cruised to a third round stoppage in his second fight, having floored his opponent on numerous occasions. Proof perhaps that Groves was ready to be moved forward quicker than most. Indeed, despite having Martins GrovesvSamuelsKukuls lined up for his third outing, Groves was sprung a surprise from manager Adam Booth in the form of former British title challenger Paul Samuels. Going into that fight, many had predicted a good test for Groves and certainly a chance to really judge the potential of the young prospect. Less than 2mins 30secs later, Groves had shown his worth, dropping Samuels with a heavy right before a compassionate referee called a halt to proceedings.

GrovespolgarIt was a sign of some real power in the fists of the 21 year-old, and there was plenty more where that came from as Groves dismantled Sandor Polgar in April. The Hungarian suffered a similar fate to Samuels, finding himself on the floor within 15 seconds of the opening bell. Further punishment saw him clambering for his gumshield before his corner dived in to stop the show.

Only the collapse of broadcaster Setanta stopped the Saint marching on, as a period of over five months passed without a fight, but Groves used this time to put in some fine work in the gym, sparring with World champions and title contenders across the globe, including current WBC World Cruiserweight champion Giacobbe Fragomeni.

sparring fragomeniring

Sparring Fragomeni

Groves returned in style in October though, headlining his own show in front of an army of fans at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, taking on late replacement Martins Kukuls after British top-10 ranked Matthew Barr pulled out.

groveskukulsThe Saint delighted the fans displaying some ferocious body punching and a hugely measured performance to wear down and eventually stop a durable opponent in five rounds. It was the first of three fights in just 34 days as the Londoner finished the year in style. A debut performance on Sky Sports saw Tadas Jonkus battered into submission inside four rounds in Sunderland as Groves fought under the Frank Maloney promotional banner for the first time, before the young prospect flew out to Germany to produce an 8 round points win full of craft, variety and finesse.

grovesinthesun1 year. Seven fights. Seven wins. 1,684 Facebook fans. Appearances in The Sun, Boxing Monthly, Seconds Out, Boxing News, Sportinglife, and Sky Sports Box Office to name but a few. The word is spreading and people are taking note, George ‘The Saint’ Groves might just be the finest prospect in British Boxing after a year that has seen the former two-time ABA champion make huge strides and display a vast array of skills and talent, but above all else, more importantly than anything, he seems to have dropped the title ‘The Hammerer of Hammersmith’. Phew.



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10 11 2009
George Groves and David Haye of Haymaker | gtvone photographic

[…] dominant performance over Belarussian champion Konstantin Makhankov on Saturday night… [more] George Groves and David […]

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