By Rick Reeno
MGM Grand, Las Vegas - Badou Jack (20-1-1, 12KOs) won a twelve round split decision over mandatory challenger George Groves (21-2, 16KOs) to retain the WBC super middleweight title. The scores were 114-113 for Groves, 115-112 for Jack, 116-111 for Jack.
It was the third time that Groves challenged for a world title. He failed his first two attempts, getting knocked out both times by Carl Froch. Groves win streak ends at two.
Groves was working good with his jab in the early part of the first round and seemed to have found his groove. Jack laid in wait and countered him very well at the end, dropping Groves after two hard right hands. Groves beat the count with only a few seconds remaining in the first.
Groves recovered by the second round. He was working well with his combinations, outboxing Jack from the distance and continued to work off the left jab. The third saw Groves taking a lot more chances, giving as good as he was getting. Jack was taking punches very well and coming back with accurate counters.
Groves continued to put his punches together well in the fourth and fifth, looking to break through and do damage. Jack was not busy enough and was often shooting one punch at a time while allowing Groves to do work. The action slowed in the sixth until Groves landed as series of punches in near the end, looking to put in a little extra to steal the round.
Jack came out more aggressive in the seventh, throwing more punches and coming forward more than he did in the first half. Groves seemed to be tiring a little and there wasn't as much snap on his punches.
The action was close in the eight and ninth. Groves was now throwing punches spots, while jack was starting to come forward with the more damaging punches. Jack was tagging Groves often with a hard right hand that rattled the British fighter. Jack controlled the tenth with Groves looking very weary and unsteady on his feet. There were few decent punches coming in from Groves.
Groves tried to muster up something in the eleventh and landed a few decent punches, but Jack countered him and for some reason, likely fatigue, Groves was not following up. Both fighters took some chances in the twelfth and final round. Jack still looked to be the fresher of the two with Groves appearing to be exhausted.