By Alexey Sukachev
Wembley Arena, London - George Groves (20-2, 15KOs) bounced back from back to back stoppage defeats to Carl Froch, with a twelve round unanimous decision over Christopher Rebrasse (22-3, 6KOs) to capture the EBU/WBC silver super middleweight titles. Groves is now the mandatory challenger to WBC champion Anthony Dirrell. The scores were 118-110, 118-110 and 117-111.
Rebrasse is rated #3 by the WBO/WBC, while Groves stands still at #4 by the WBC, #6 by the WBA and #10 by the IBF. What is more important is the fact that Groves is rated #5 by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
The contest itself proved to be hard and spirited. Both combatants tried to find their luck at the middle range. The problem with Rebrasse was a total lack of punching power, which was on display early on. However, even those weakened and soft punches by the Frenchman rocked Groves a couple of times - specifically in the middle rounds. Lack of class and activity cost the defending champion, who was also losing a battle of jabs.
Groves didn't look like a world-beater either, being too reserved in open exchanges and losing his superior punching power somewhere down the line. However, in a shootout contest Rebrasse was hit more and landed less meaningful punches thus leading to a clear loss over twelve.
Fighting at the site of his greatest glory, 2012 London featherweight gold medalist Luke Campbell (8-0, 6 KOs) didn't disappoint his fans by stopping fading Polish veteran Krzysztof Szot (18-16-1, 5 KOs) in seven rounds.
Campbell, 26, was slowly picking Szot apart, combining stiff jabs with sudden uppercuts and body punches to mount damage to the Pole. Szot was cut, bleeding from various small wounds on his face and beaten continuously. Finally, in the seventh, Campbell landed several well placed shots, with a left hook being most memorable of them, thus sending Szot on a knee, where he was counted out by the referee at 2:09 of the seventh.
Krzysztof Szot has now lost his seventh straight. Campbell has his next appointment on Oct. 25 in Hull against FOTY contestant Daniel Eduardo Brizuela (26-3-2, 8 KOs) for a vacant WBA I/C title.
Khalid Yafai's bigger and younger brother Gamal "The Beast" Yafai (4-0, 2 KOs), 23 (to 25 years of Khalid) overcame an annoying pain in his left arm, to convincingly outpoint Frenchman Sofiane Bellahcene (3-7-3) over six with a sole score being 60-54 - in his favour. Yafai was briefly down in the first due to a low blow by Bellahcene.
British super flyweight Khalid Yafai (12-0, 8 KOs), a former amateur star, added the first international strap (a vacant IBF I/C 115lb belt) to his resume with an easy second-round stoppage of vastly overmatched Nicaraguan Herald Molina (17-9-3, 7 KOs).
The fight was deemed to be short from the opening bell. Yafai was better in every possible department, finally dropping Molina down with a body punch at the end of the round. He went on with more pressure, connecting with a hard left hook to the whiskers, which dropped the Nicaraguan down hard at the beginning of the second round. He got up, and was even allowed to go on, but was crushed by another left bomb soon thereafter. Time of stoppage was 1:50.
Debuting cruiserweight Luke "Duke" Watkins (1-0, 1 KOs) entered professional ranks with a convincing stoppage of Czech veteran David Vicena (8-21-2, 6 KOs) in round four. Watkins was dominating Vicena but the latter wasn't in danger at any time. However, after several hard shots, the referee chose to call a halt to the fight with a minute remaining in round four.
In a tune-up fight, light welterweight Ricky Boylan improved to 12-0, with 4 KOs, after a decision win over Hungarian Karoly Lakatos (13-45-1, 5 KOs) in a four-rounder. Lakatos was no match for Boylan. The sole score was 40-35.
Lightweight prospect Martin Joseph "Wardy" Ward (10-0-1, 5 KOs) passed a major test at this point of his professional career by stopping experienced Georgian journeyman Kakhaber Avetisian (35-25-1, 17 KOs) with three seconds remaining in the fight.
Avetisian, who has wins over former world title challenger Andreas Evensen and also against 29-0 Guillaume Salinge, offered tough resistance to Ward, who controlled the pace and the flow of the contest mainly with his jab. Late into the eighth, Ward connected with a hard left hook, which dropped Avetisian down. The Georgian got up but was in no position to continue for the fight to be stopped.
Light heavyweight Oscar Ahlin (10-0, 9 KOs) of Sweden resumed his series of stoppage wins merely a year since his last fight. The promising prospect was tested a bit by rugged Latvian Olegs Fedotovs (18-16, 12 KOs) before rallying hard during the last round. Fedotovs ate several unanswered punches in the center of the ring but was in position to continue - however, the referee has wrongly halted the action at 2:15 of the sixth stanza.Fedotovs has lost his third straight contest this year.