George Groves captures title in 6th-round TKO of Fedor Chudinov
SHEFFIELD, England – It’s been a long and arduous journey but “The Saint” finally came good.
Amid a frenzied atmosphere, George Groves put three failed world title attempts behind him to claim the vacant WBA super middleweight strap with a sixth-round stoppage of Russia’s Fedor Chudinov at Bramall Lane soccer stadium on Saturday.
Groves, who is rated No. 3 by THE RING at 168 pounds, broke through in the sixth with a damaging right hand that stunned the visitor. Sensing the moment, the Englishman continued to release his back hand to head and body before opening-up with a sustained, and blistering, two-fisted assault. Chudinov wasn’t throwing back when referee Steve Gray stepped in. The official time was 1:14.
“It’s a lifetime’s work achieved,” said an ecstatic Groves in his post-fight interview. “(Trainer) Shane McGuigan had resurrected my career and I feel as though I’m the best in the division now. I wasn’t going to let this belt slip away.”
It was far from easy, though.
Chudinov claimed ring center in the opening seconds of Round 1 and set a fast pace. Groves circled hesitantly, flashed out a jab and seemed genuinely surprised by the visitor’s aggression. That pattern was maintained in the early rounds and although Chudinov wasn’t landing cleanly, he was making a physical impression.
Groves’ timing appeared off but he began landing some excellent counters in the fourth. Chudinov continued to bull his way forward but he was being caught often and struggled to find the target himself. Unfortunately for Groves his success was marred by a cut to the side of his left eye, which was the result of a clash of heads.
The risk Chudinov was taking by applying so much pressure was that he could walk on to something big. His head was relatively stationary throughout and Groves timed him perfectly in the sixth to set up the finish.
The relief was visceral from the home fighter. Groves (26-3, 19 knockouts) was stopped twice by countryman Carl Froch in a brace of world title bouts in 2013 and 2014. The following year, he was defeated by then-WBC beltholder Badou Jack in Las Vegas. The Londoner has overcome plenty of adversity and finally has his moment in the sun.
Former foe Froch rose from his commentary position to give his countryman a round of applause.
Groves, unquestionably talented, also brings excitement and punch power to the ring and there are some top matchups to be made at 168 pounds. Old rival James DeGale, whom Groves defeated in May 2011, is the reigning IBF titleholder and a unification fight between the pair is a natural.
A bout against WBO beltholder Gilberto Ramirez, or the winner of the WBC title fight between Callum Smith and Anthony Dirrell, who collide in Los Angeles on Sept. 9, are also intriguing possibilities.
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing