Jeddah: Callum Smith stopped George Groves with a seventh round knockout to claim the inaugural World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) super-middleweight final in Jeddah on Friday.
Groves was stunned with a left hook before a body shot floored him. Smith lifts the Ali Trophy with this win, while also taking Groves’ WBA world title, retaining his own WBC Diamond belt, and assuming The Ring magazine honour.
All but one of the judges had Smith winning the fight at the time of the knock-out.
“I felt I was ahead at the time of the stoppage,” said Smith. “I hurt him a little in round three but he survived and came back.
“I hit him again just before the knockout, but everytime I was landing it was having a slight effect, and then he was recovering quite quickly. He’s quite dangerous when he’s hurt so I knew I had to be patient.
“I hit him again and he wobbled and I thought I might not get this chance again so I have to take advantage of it. I got him a little off cue and thankfully landed a good body shot that won me the fight.”
Smith now joins his older brother Liam as a world champion, and both were accompanied in the ring to celebrate post match with their two other brothers – both former British champions – Paul and Stephen.
“It just means everything,” added Callum. “I am not a man who shows a lot of emotion, you never see me ecstatic, but you can see tonight it is a lifetime of work all gone into one.
“I'd like to think we are not finished, I'd love to defend my titles back in Liverpool and give a great fighting city a great night of boxing.”
Groves said: “Full credit to Callum, he boxed well. He got me with a body shot in the end, which is embarrassing for me, because I’ve never been dropped with a body shot in my life, but he got the decisive shot in the end.”
This fight had meant to be fought in July but was postponed in order to allow Groves time to recover from a shoulder injury sustained during his semi-final win over Chris Eubank Junior in February.
That lingering injury wasn’t to blame for this loss though, he added.
“I'm not going to make excuses. The shoulder worked and Callum was the better man on the night. That's tough for me to say but I have to be honest.”
On the undercard JJ McDonagh retired after three rounds of his bout with Chris Eubank Junior complaining of a shoulder injury. The two then had to be separated as Eubank berated his opponent for failing to continue.
Also, two Saudi fighters Julaidan Abdul Fatah and Zuhayr Al Qahtani became the first professional Saudi boxers to fight on home soil. Both also won their respective bouts in front of their own crowd, in a 10,000-capacity indoor arena at Jeddah Sports City that was over three quarters full.
This was the first time a world title fight had been fought in the Middle East and promoter Kalle Sauerland said they would definitely be back in the region based on the success of this initial staging.
Allu Bamidele Lasisi (Nigeria) bt Artid Bamrung (Thailand) UD
Julaidan Abdul Fatah (Saudi Arabia) bt Martin Kabrhel (Czech Rep) UD
Kem Ljungquist (Denmark) bt Mourad Omar (Egypt) TKO R3
Mikael Lawal (UK) bt Tomas Kozma (Hungary) KO R3
Zuhayr Al Qahtani (Saudi Arabia) bt Mohammad Mahmoud (UK) UD
Darren Surtees (UK) bt Kane Baker (UK) KO R2
Chris Eubank Junior (UK) bt JJ McDonagh (Ireland) TKO R3
Callum Smith (UK) bt George Groves (UK) KO R7