George Groves beats Chris Eubank Jr. to retain title, win WBSS semifinal

MANCHESTER, England -- George Groves thoroughly disproved the theory by Chris Eubank Jr. that the WBA super middleweight champion was past his prime by unanimously outpointing his English rival Saturday.

Groves defended his title for a second time, using his experience to outsmart Eubank and come out ahead 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 on the scorecards at the Manchester Arena.

The victory sends him through to the World Boxing Super Series final at London's O2 Arena on June 2. Liverpool's Callum Smith and Germany's Juergen Braehmer meet next Saturday in the other semifinal of the eight-man competition to decide who will face Groves.

But it didn't come easy as Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) suffered a left shoulder injury in the last round and had to survive a torrid end to the fight as Eubank furiously peppered him with hooks.

Eubank (26-2, 20 KOs) had spoken about ending Groves' career and emulating his father's success by winning his first world title.

But Groves put his jab to good use to humble Eubank after the challenger's pre-fight promises.

"I dropped him at least once but it didn't count," Groves said in the ring afterward. "He was strong inside, which we expected, but I'm very happy. I've boxed through broken jaws. I wanted it most.

"The jab was landed correctly all night. When he had success, it was only because I did something wrong."

Eubank disagreed with the judges.

"I thought I pressured him the entire fight," Eubank said in the ring afterward. "I was always coming forward. He cut me. I couldn't see out my right eye. A cut is a cut, you have to deal with it.

"Did I underestimate him? Maybe."

This was Groves' best win yet, and the Londoner is in a very different place to where he was after two stoppage losses to Carl Froch and a points defeat to Badou Jack in world title attempts.

Eubank's pride will have been bruised by a second career defeat, but he pushed Groves to the limit. His problem was that he could not land enough clean shots on Groves, who had the better jab.

Despite Groves having five previous world title fights to Eubank's one, it was the challenger who started as the favorite with UK bookmakers.

Groves was also bigger physically, as Eubank only moved up from middleweight a year ago.

And it was the champion who established an early lead.

Groves, 29, caught Eubank with single jabs toward the end of the first round and had more success in the second with a counter left hand.

Later in the second, Eubank drove Groves back into the corner with a series of hooks, but failed to land the uppercut cleanly.

Eubank was trying to follow in the footsteps of his father, Chris Eubank Sr., who was world middleweight and super middleweight champion in the 1990s.

Eubank came out swinging wildly in the third round but got the worst of his first serious offensive of the fight as he was left with a nasty cut above his right eye following an accidental clash of heads.

The corner did a good job on the cut, and Eubank had a much better fourth round, nailing Groves with a left and hard right.

Blood, however, began streaming down Eubank's face in the fifth round, and the fight became messy as Groves looked to hold on when the challenger tried to get close.

The eighth contained some brilliant action, with Groves caught by a leaping left hook. Eubank landed another big left, but Groves immediately responded with a heavy right hand.

Eubank landed the bigger shots in the ninth, including a straight right that landed flush with Groves penned against the ropes.

They swapped blows at the end of the ninth round before a savage 10th round that had both fighters look as if they were in trouble.

Eubank touched down at one point, but it was not ruled a knockdown. He looked stunned by a right hand and had to sit on the ropes while his head cleared.

The most dramatic moments of the fight came in the final round, when it became clear that Groves' left shoulder was seriously injured. Eubank, noticing Groves' arm hanging limp, launched a furious assault.

One right hand amid a blizzard of hooks landed flush on Groves' jaw and the champion was relieved to hear the bell. Despite Eubank's last round, Groves had done enough to get the decision.

On the undercard, Ryan Walsh made a fourth defense of his British featherweight title against Isaac Lowe. Walsh finished strongly but had to be content with a draw to retain his title after scores of 115-114 (Lowe), 116-114 (Walsh) and 115-115.

And British middleweight champion Tommy Langford unanimously outpointed Jack Arnfield by scores of 116-113, 116-113 and 117-113 in his first title defense.