George Groves retained the WBA super middleweight belt when he outsmarted Chris Eubank Jr by unanimous decision in Manchester Arena on Saturday.
Groves, who has fought in more big fights, used distance wisely to pick and choose his moments. However, he appeared to have a shoulder injury at the end, which could hamper his preparation for the final of the World Boxing Super Series in June, against Callum Smith or Jurgen Brahmer.
Eubank was cut above the right eye in the third round from an apparent accidental clash of heads, and it bothered him for the rest of the fight. He maintained his record of never being knocked down but when he took a knee in the 10th round Groves was frustrated there was no count.
Eubank’s stamina was expected to be superior but he tired through the middle rounds and finished with a desperate flourish and careless abandon. He relinquished his minor IBO belt after the judges awarded the shrewd Groves the decision by 117-112, 116-112, and 115-113.
Groves improved his record to 28-3 (20 KO) with his second defense of the WBA belt he took from Fedor Chudinov last May.
Eubank suffered his second defeat in 28 fights.
Despite only stepping up from middleweight a year ago and this being his first world title fight, it was the challenger who was slight favourite with British bookmakers.
Eubank is yet to come emulate the success of his father - Chris Sr, who was world middleweight and super-middleweight champion in the 1990s ? after failing to land enough clean blows.
"I thought I pressured him the entire fight," said Eubank in the ring afterwards.
"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."