What started as a serious grudge turned into a tactical, nervous boxing match between James DeGale and George Groves, and at the end, one man left with his perfect pro record intact, while another suffered a bitter defeat. And it was underdog George Groves who came away undefeated and the new British super middleweight champion.
Groves (13-0, 10 KO) won on majority decision scores of 115-114 (twice) and 115-115. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 115-113 for DeGale, but this was no robbery or awful decision. It was an extremely tight fight that could have been scored close for either fighter.
DeGale (10-1, 8 KO) was also defeated by Groves when both were amateurs in the same gym, but was the favorite going into this fight, and the higher-regarded pro prospect. The former Olympic gold medalist had been dominant in his professional career to this point, but both men tonight saw themselves faced with their toughest professional challenge.
"Chunky" started the fight a bit too cautious, which in the end probably gave Groves the win more than anything. While DeGale would eventually rally his way back into the fight, a lot of the early rounds likely did go to Groves, who landed better punches and seemed to have DeGale rattled, nervous and confused. There were points where it looked like DeGale was just incredibly unsure of himself, lacking his trademark confidence (some would say arrogance), when faced with someone who may well have been in his head from the get-go.
For Groves, this is a huge win that more than legitimizes his standing as a top super middleweight prospect, and now probably the best super middleweight prospect in the sport. He had already faced some doubts after a tough go against Kenny Anderson last year, and unlike DeGale didn't come into this fight having basically been flawless professionally. But he proved to be DeGale's equal on the night.
This rivalry is likely now far from over. Had DeGale nicked a close points win, I think that might be the last we'd have heard of it, at least for a good long while. But this could gnaw at DeGale for a good, long while, and he might look to secure a rematch as soon as possible. Whether Groves and his team feel it's necessary to entertain the mouthy rival's request could be another story.
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