Three-time world title challenger George Groves showed some spark today, albeit against an opponent who was there to make him look good. Groves, 27, returned from his third world title fight loss last September with an easy fifth round stoppage of Andrea Di Luisa today in London, keeping himself in the mix at super middleweight.
Groves (22-3, 17 KO) was working his first fight with new trainer Shane McGuigan, who took over for Paddy Fitzpatrick, who had previously taken over for Adam Booth, with neither of those working relationships ending very well. Groves looked fairly sharp today in disposing of Di Luisa (18-4, 14 KO), who has now been stopped in all of his defeats, and looked as overmatched here as he did last year against Lucian Bute.
The win gets Groves back in action and back in the win column, but proves nothing we didn't already know, that he can easily handle this level of opposition. We'll see going forward if he can get the job done against a higher class of opponent, as that's where he's come up short in the past.
John Wayne Hibbert (17-3, 11 KO) stopped Tommy Martin (13-1, 5 KO) in the 12th round to retain his Commonwealth junior welterweight title in a spirited scrap where the 21-year-old Martin gave a great effort but found himself just a bit outgunned against a bigger, more experienced fighter. Hibbert was in control at the time of the stoppage, up 107-102 on our card, when he dropped Martin on a strong flurry. Martin, exhausted, just had nothing left at that point. There was minor controversy about the stoppage, as Martin got to his feet at a count of nine, and referee Victor Loughlin called it off anyway, seemingly counting him out rather than making a decision to call it off. Hibbert led 107-102, 106-103, and 106-103 on the official cards when the fight was stopped. The official time of the stoppage was 1:13 of round 12, and it was announced that Loughlin did, indeed, "reach the count of ten."
John Ryder (22-2, 12 KO) got through a 12-rounder with battle tested veteran Sergey Khomitsky (30-13-3, 13 KO), who was game as usual but largely outboxed by his younger opponent. Khomitsky, 41, seemed to rattle Ryder slightly just a few times, but wasn't able to put together a really consistent attack, at least not effectively so. Ryder, 27, improves his standing with the WBA by winning their International middleweight title, but while this was a good, solid win, there's certainly a class between him and the world level. Scores were 117-112, 116-112, and 115-113. BLH had it 117-111 for Ryder.
Ben Hall (8-0-1, 2 KO) stopped Kris Agyei-Dua (8-4-2, 3 KO) in the sixth round to win the BBBofC Southern Area junior middleweight title in the TV opener.