George Groves outclassed bloodied rival Chris Eubank Jr to retain his WBA super-middleweight title with a unanimous decision victory and book a place in the final of the World Boxing Super Series.
Groves prevailed by margins of 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113 on the judges' scorecards at the Manchester Arena, despite suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder during the final round as Eubank launched a desperate onslaught.
By that stage, Groves – now with a professional record of 28 wins and three defeats – had built up a handy lead over Eubank (26-2), whose pre-fight promises to outlast his fellow Englishman were undermined by a brawling approach almost entirely devoid of nuance against a skill technician.
Eubank – the son of former two-weight world champions Chris Eubank – certainly appears to have inherited his father's granite chin as he stood up to clean shots from throughout against Groves, having been hindered by a cut eye caused in a third-round clash of heads.
Groves collected the WBA title with a victory over Fedor Chudinov in Sheffield last year but there was a true sense of validation surrounding this triumph on Saturday, at the same venue where Carl Froch inflicted a heartbreaking first career loss in November 2013.
The 29-year-old Londoner will face the winner of next weekend's bout in Germany between his undefeated countryman Callum Smith and Jurgen Brahmer in the final, which is scheduled for June.
That date may be complicated by the shoulder injury that gave a rampaging Eubank belated encouragement – hope his rudimentary and one-dimensional efforts for the majority of the bout scarcely merited.
Eubank Jr’s father offered a frank assessment of his son’s performance.
“He didn’t perform,” Chris Eubank Sr. said. “He’s a lot better than what you saw. He was just loading up, that’s the cold hard truth of it. He’s a good fighter but he didn’t show it.”