By Elliot Foster
George Groves staked his claim for a fourth shot at a world title with a points win over Martin Murray.
The Hammersmith super-middleweight, who was still rebuilding from his third world title defeat against Badou Jack last September, outpointed the Merseyside man in a defence of his WBA International crown at London’s O2 Arena, exclusively live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Groves (24-3, 18 KOs) won what was an official final eliminator for the WBA super-middleweight world title, as part of the undercard to Anthony Joshua’s first defence of the IBF heavyweight world title against undefeated American Dominic Breazeale, against a brave Murray, who has come up short on the world stage four times before.
The judges at ringside all saw the clash unanimously in favour of the Londoner, each handing in tallies of 118-110.
Groves established his rhythm early, getting comfortable with the task ahead behind a solid workmanlike jab. He won the first quarter of the fight with relative ease but the heat was turned up by Murray, who slipped to 33-4-1 (16 KOs) in defeat, in the fourth as he pinned Groves to the ropes and unleashed a heavy barrage of shots.
Then, though, the former WBA and IBF world super-middleweight title challenger Groves, 28, took control of the action again as, after suffering a cut above the right eye, he got back to his boxing.
It was the sixth round in which the fight began to come to life as both men seemed in trouble.
There was back and forth action throughout until the final bell before Groves, who was rocked by and rocked Murray in the final knockings, was handed the victory as he had his hand raised at the scene of his last two fights, which was a four-round knockout victory over David Brophy and a five-round demolition of Andrea Di Luisa.
The talk before this highly exciting crossroads fight was that the loser would have to retire while the winner went on to potentially fight for another world title, but Murray rubbished those talks and told Sky Sports that he has “no plans” to quit the sport because he feels “like I’ve got so much more to give.”
Groves will now wait for the decision from the WBA on whether to strip its Super world champion Felix Sturm of his honours after he failed a drug test following his last fight.
Despite the WBA having a good relationship with the German, common sense should come to fruition and he should be relieved of his status as a world champion.
And if that’s the case, George Groves will face former champion Fedor Chudinov (14-1, 10 KOs) for the vacant belt.