By Jack Price @PriceyJ97.
Groves had to impress in this fight in order to be considered as a serious world contender. It was clear that he was desperate to do this when he shot straight out of the blocks at the first bell and piled the pressure on his Jamaican opponent. Johnson, renowned for his granite chin, soaked all of this up and came back strong and tried to turn it into a battle early on. Unfortunately the 43-year old's efforts didn't last long and it was all one-way traffic from around the 3rd round onwards.
Johnson, whilst clearly never in real trouble, started to struggle with the pace and at one point went for over a minute and half without even throwing a punch. However, Groves too appeared to slow in the later rounds but still remained in clear control for the entire fight. His explosive punches didn't damage Johnson but they caught the eye of the judges and all the fans who were there to see how the Brit would do in this big step up.
I had the fight scored 120-108 (every round to Groves) but it could have been even wider. The referee called a controversial knock down for Johnson in the last round, but the slow-mo highlights showed that it was actually just a slip. Unfortunately the judges don't get to see the replays so some of them had it slightly wider. 120-107x2 & 119-109 were the final scorecards.
This was exactly the performance Groves needed tonight, if not better. It was almost certain that 'Saint' George was never going to get the stoppage tonight, so we can't moan about a points win. At times, Groves power did have Johnson troubled for just a few moments. And although Johnson is rapidly declining, Groves was more impressive against him than the likes of Carl Froch, Tavoris Cloud and Chad Dawson were against Johnson just a few years ago.
There's a big year ahead for Groves who claims that a world title shot is on its way. We know that there could be a domestic "love" triangle forming between Groves, Carl Froch and James DeGale so hopefully we'll see some interesting match-ups between them too in the near future. Its all about getting the right fights at the right times for Groves. He's not on the same level as the likes of Froch, Kessler & Ward yet but a fight with WBO champ Arthur Abraham is a one you'd have to give him a chance in.
It was a good end to the year for George Groves and hopefully it will be an even bigger year for him in 2013!