By Alexey Sukachev
Twenty years after its quiet start in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Glen Johnson's career possibly hit its quiet end tonight at ExCel arena in London, England - where the former light heavyweight king and 2004 Fighter of the year lost a wide decision to rising "Saint" George Groves and offered very little to support the claim of being one the leading 168lbers in the world.
The fight was a relatively easy task for Groves, 24. Johnson, nineteen years his older, was on the defensive from the very first round. His tight block and enormous punch-taking ability allowed him to remain on his feet up until the twelfth and final round, when he was finally dropped down more due to a balance issue more than anything else. Nevertheless, Johnson (now 51-18-2, 35 KOs) lost in the most emphatic fashion possible, taking sustained and prolonged punishment for the majority of the rounds.
It's not that Johnson didn't fight back. He did. But his efforts were vaning, as was vaning his stamina and activity. He was throwing too little punches in order for the effect to be visible. He had a trmendous third round and he did hurt Groves in the eleventh with a body blow. But those were just moments, while the flow of the fight was steadily controlled by the younger Brit. In round seven, Johnson was eating one blow after another for more than half-a-round without a break and without any counters, yet referee John Keane allowed his to continue.
WBO #2, WBA #5,WBC #6,IBF #7 Groves is now 16-0, with 12 KOs, and looks ready for a shot at world title.
In the most difficult bout of his career, Billy Joe Saunders (16-0, 10 KOs), a former British Olympian and one of a stellar trio (which also includes Frankie Gavin and James DeGale), which debuted at the paid ranls in 2009 under Frank Warren's banner, added the vacant BBBofC British middleweight title to the previously owned Commonwealth belt by beating determined challenger in Nick Blackwell (12-1, 6 KOs).
Blackwell wasn't considered a soft touch in the lead to the fight, but he wasn't considered to be such a tough foe as well. Blackwell, 22, soon found himself in a role of aggressor against Saunders, 23, but was doing his job surprisingly well. Saunders answered well with his sudden left uppercuts and right hook but it was Blackwell, who controlled the action. It's to be noted though that Billy Joe's punches were sharper, and he was also a more elusive of the two. However, it also should be noted that Blackwell has never been hurt or stunned throughout the match-up. The same couldn't be said about the former Olympian, whose body felt Blackwell's liver shots very well.
Blackwell got busier down the stretch, while Saunders showed the signs of fatigue in the closing stanzas. It hasn't helped Blackwell to clinch a decision though. Final scores were: 117-112 (John Keane), 116-113 and 115-114 (Dave Parris) - for Billy Joe Saunders. BoxingScene had the fight a draw: 114-114.
Liam Smith, a younger brother of notable super middleweight Paul Smith, acquired his first ever professional title. Liam, 24, outpointed determined challenger Steve O'Meara (16-3, 5 KOs), 28, over twelve close rounds to capture a vacant light middleweight belt of the Commonwealth with a unanimous decision.
Both fighters switched their roles in the fight throughout all twelve rounds of action. Firstly, Smith was an aggressor and he even put O'Meara down for a count of five in the first round. However, what was ruled a legit knockdown, was later shown to be a result of an accidental headbutt on a replay. O'Meara was somehow affected by a phantom knockdown and lost a couple of the next rounds. He has bravely worked his way back into the fight and fought on relativey even terms with Smith for the rest of the contest. O'Meara's best punches were body blows, and Smith was good with his sudden combinations.
Later in the fight, O'Meara stalked Smith around the ring but championship rounds were once again for the Liverpoudlian. Finals scores were: 118-110, 116-110 and 116-112 - for the new champion. BoxingScene had it 116-112 - also for Liam Smith.
Bradley Skeete (10-0, 4 KOs) knocked out Chas Symonds (17-6-2, 5 KOs) with a left hook to the liver in the fourth.
Super middleweight prospect Frank Buglioni (7-0, 5 KOs) notched yeat another professional victory, stopping Irish veteran Ciaran Healy (14-22-1, 4 KOs) in two. Buglioni, as always, was opened for a counter left hand, and Healy used it to a degree. However, youth and power of Buglioni, coupled with Healy's age and lack of skills, resulted in a one-sided action. Buglioni landed a huge left hook in the second round and followed it with a right hand to put the Irishman down in the second. He kept punching Healy up until the round, and the veteran's corner chose to retire their protege during the break after the second round.
Neil Dawson (11-1, 4KOs) stopped Tony Conquest (10-1, 4KOs) in the first round to capture the WBO Internatiional Cruiserweight Championship. Conquest was down and out in the first round after controlling the opening exchanges. A solid right hand by Neil Dawson put him down and he was unable to continue after 1.59.
Super featherweight prospect Mitchell Smith (5-0, 2KOs) stopped Igor Chuev (1-1) in the fourth round of action.