Groves: I'm now contender
George Groves insists his demolition of Jamaican veteran Glen Johnson at London's ExCel has identified him as a fighter to be feared by his super-middleweight rivals.
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Groves defended his Commonwealth title with a wide points victory over a respected opponent whose 71-fight record includes wins against Roy Jones and Antonio Tarver.
It was only the 24-year-old's 16th contest, yet he succeeded in defeating Johnson more comprehensively than British rival Carl Froch, who secured only a majority decision in June last year.
"That performance will tell the rest of the division that I'm here, that I'm a contender and someone not just to keep an eye on, but to fear," Groves said.
"I will give anyone in the world a decent fight and would beat a lot of the top guys. I believe that now I'm a world class fighter.
"Johnson has boxed at the highest level for a long time, and at light heavyweight as well. The good fighters he's beaten is impressive.
"I can look back at this year and say I've only had two fights, I've had two successful fights and have made big improvements."
Injury has restricted Groves to just two outings this year and while he was hit too easily, his movement, accuracy and work-rate fully justified the 120-107 120-107 119-109 decision on the scorecards.
The one surprise was that he failed to become only the second man to stop the battle-hardened Johnson after Bernard Hopkins, although the 43-year-old was saved by the bell at the end of the sixth round.
"There were times when I was absolutely nailing him and 95 per cent of other super-middleweights would have gone, but he stood there," Groves said.
"I genuinely thought I'd stop him. I didn't underestimate how good his chin was, but he can really take a punch."
Promoter Frank Warren revealed that Groves and Billy Joe Saunders will be fighting again in London in February and tipped the former to win a world title by the end of 2013.
Saunders' rapid development continued with a unanimous points victory over former unlicensed fighter Nick Blackwell in the best contest of an entertaining bill.
Blackwell provided the 2008 Olympian with the toughest test of his 16-fight career and stalked down his opponent throughout, but Saunders' classier work saw him prevail 117-112 116-113 115-114 on the scorecards.
The win adds the vacant British middleweight title to his Commonwealth belt and while Saunders is far more advanced in his career, he covets a showdown with Chris Eubank Jr.
"Chris Eubank Jr is arrogant and I want to put him in his place. I didn't like his dad and I don't like him," Saunders said.
"He's got nothing I want on, but I'd like to beat him because he's arrogant. He keeps calling people out but hasn't boxed anyone yet."
The defeat was the second of Blackwell's 14-fight career, but the heavy underdog's gutsy performance and superb conditioning ensured he will challenge for British and Commonwealth honours again.
Liam Smith secured the vacant Commonwealth light-middleweight title with a comprehensive points victory over Steve O'Meara.