Thursday, February 02, 2023  |



George Groves is back with win over Christopher Rebrasse

Photo by Scott Heavey / Getty Images

Photo by Scott Heavey / Getty Images

Super middleweight contender George Groves got back to winning ways with a unanimous decision over Christopher Rebrasse in London on Saturday, lifting the European championship in the process.

The British star, who was stopped twice by Carl Froch in back-to-back fights, performed well in a tough contest and puts himself in line to face newly crowned WBC titleholder Anthony Dirrell. The official scorecards read 118-110 twice and 117-111, all for “The Saint”.

“It feels great to be back,” said Groves, when interviewed by Sky Sports. “That was a tough fight and I think I delivered good value for money for the fans. Rebrasse was a quality opponent and finally I’ve had a bit of success. I didn’t get the knockout but I gave it a real go and, at the end of the day, he’s never been stopped.”

Groves, THE RING’s No. 4-rated super middleweight, was a heavy favorite coming in. Rebrasse (22-3-3, 6 knockouts) had solid enough credentials but his low knockout ratio suggested that Groves could go through the gears, without worrying too much about the incoming, and that is precisely what came to pass.

Both fighters were forceful with the jab during the opening minute of Round 1, but the success Groves had with his own lead quickly made Rebrasse reluctant to engage. As the session progressed the defending champion slowed down and Groves remained constant with his output.

That all changed in the second when Rebrasse came out with renewed purpose. The 26 year old Groves met him head on and both exchanged solid blows to head and body, throughout the first half of an entertaining encounter. The Frenchman was absorbing the worst of it, but occasionally found a nifty counter to keep the action balanced.

Groves was finding real success with the jab and sprung out of crouches with vicious left and right hooks but, by Round 6, Rebrasse’s toughness and durability was looking beyond reproach. The Londoner could hit his man but he couldn’t damage him, and this had the makings of a long night.

Rebrasse did look momentarily befuddled in the seventh when Groves began adding layers to his assaults. A brace of sharp left hooks to the head landed with authority and the champion, his face bloodied, smiled out of frustration and asked for more.

The rapid pace continued and, despite being well ahead, there was suddenly concern in the Groves corner about reaching the finishing line. That was understandable as the priority was winning but even though Rebrasse seemed bullet proof, he didn’t have the power to put a dent in Groves either and a distance fight looked likely.

The tenth was a superb session as Groves found the target with a bursting sequence of shots, which included three flush right hands to the jaw. Rebrasse predictably took them well, marched onwards, and remained competitive until the final bell.

Groves should be commended for jumping back on the horse so quickly. The skillful boxer puncher took very little time off following the Froch rematch, signed to face Rebrasse, and completed two weeks of hard sparring with WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin in July.

The pressure was on tonight and anything less than a victory could have led to a new line of work.

Rebrasse, who won the European crown from Mohamed Ali Ndiaye in March, acquitted himself well, but was a level beneath the sharp shooting Groves. This was the Frenchman’s third defeat but, at 28 years old, he can come again particularly if Groves’ vacates the title to chase Anthony Dirrell’s WBC strap as expected.

“I want Anthony Dirrell next,” said Groves, who improves to 20-2 (15 KOs). “The clock is ticking on his voluntary defense and I want him as quickly as possible.”

Both Groves and Rebrasse weighed in officially at 167.5 pounds.


Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing