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George Groves vs. Martin Murray results

By Patrick McHugh: In a battle for struggling 168lb contenders, #2 WBC George groves (24-3, 18 KOs) defeated former four-time world title challenger Martin Murray (33-4-1, 16 KOs) by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision on Saturday night in their WBA super middleweight title eliminator bout at the O2 Arena in London, England.

The final judges’ scores were 118-110, 118-110 and 118-110. Groves hurt Murray with big right hands in rounds 7, 9 and 12. Murray had Groves looking hurt in the 10th after nailing him with a nice left hook to the head. Both fighters looked tired and ragged in the 12th round. Their conditioning looked less than to be desired at that point in the fight.

Murray, 33, lost the fight to Groves in the same way he was beaten in his four attempts at winning world titles by failing to let his hands go. Murry spent virtually the entire fight hiding behind his high guard. It looked like Murray was waiting Groves out until the later rounds, hoping he would get tired by punching his guard. If that was Murray’s plan, it wasn’t a good one, because Groves hurt him in the 7th round with a right uppercut thrown though his high guard. The shot sent Murray retreating to the ropes where Groves teed off on him for the remaining seconds of the round. Luckily for Murray there wasn’t enough time in the round for Groves to finish him off.

Round eight was totally one-sided with Grove teeing off on Murray, who refused to throw any shots. He spent the entire round covering up and not throwing shots. Groves looked tired and wasn’t throwing as many shots as he had in the previous round. Groves’ face was red and he clearly was tired. However, Murray was too hurt and shell-shocked to take advantage of the situation.

The victory for the 28-year-old Groves locks him in as the mandatory challenge to WBA super middleweight champion Giovanni De Carolis. If Groves can’t beat him for a world title, then it might be the end of the line for him. De Carolis is easily the most vulnerable of the current super middleweight champions. Groves already failed against WBC champion Badou Jack, and the other champions James DeGale and Gilberto Ramirez look too good for Groves right now. It’s not a given that Groves will beat De Carolis despite him being what many boxing fans see as the weak link among the super middleweight champions. De Carolis has good size and decent punching power. It doesn’t take huge power to hurt Groves. It just takes a fighter with moderate power and a good engine to push a fast pace. Groves will melt under the pressure of a good fighter.

Groves was fortunate tonight that he had an opponent that wasn’t throwing a lot of punches, because he did not react well from the few hard shots that Murray did throw in the later rounds of the contest. It’s hard to imagine Groves being able to take 12 hard rounds of getting nailed by shots from a busy super middleweight. Groves was able to fight at a very close pace tonight because of Murray fighting like a sparring partner rather than a contender. This was the perfect opponent for Groves. If he’d been in the ring with a top super middleweight that was going to force him to fight hard, the outcome might have been different. #1 WBC Callum Smith would have likely made easy work of Groves tonight if it had been him in the ring with him. Groves’ chin and stamina looked no better in this fight than they had in the past. It was just lucky for him that he had Murray in there with him rather than a top fighter that throws punches.

Murray will need to make a hard career decision now and decide whether to continue fighting or to give up and retire from the sport. This was Murray’s third defeat in his last seven fights since 2015. His other defeats came against Gennady Golovkin and Arthur Abraham. You can argue that Murray shouldn’t have been fighting Groves in a WBA title eliminator because he’d done nothing since losing to Abraham last November. There were more deserving contenders in the World Boxing Association’s top 15 rankings that deserved to fight in the WBA eliminator than Murray or even Groves for that matter. Murray’s promoter Eddie Hearn can probably keep putting him in more world title eliminators in the future even if he fails to beat any contenders, but it’s quite likely that Murray will be weeded out every time by the contenders. The only way Murray will likely get title shots now is if one of the champions picks him out in a voluntary defense.

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