Jeddah - Britain's Callum Smith knocked out his compatriot
George Groves in Saudi Arabia on Friday, dethroning the more experienced
fighter to claim the World Boxing Association super middleweight title and the
coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Smith, 28, knocked out the 30-year-old Groves - who has held
the WBA super middleweight title for 16 months - in the seventh of 12 rounds,
capping a winning streak in his 25th bout, with 18 knockouts overall.
Groves has won 28 out of 32 fights this season, with 20
Smith's height worked to his advantage at Friday night's
bout in Jeddah: the Liverpudlian, who stands 191 cm tall to Groves' 182.1 cm,
towered over the title defender as he delivered fast right-hand hooks, met with
a quick left-handed punch by Groves.
But Smith caught Groves with a left hook off the temple
nearly two minutes into the seventh round, followed by a fast flurry as Groves
stumbled into the ropes and hit the floor.
Referee Luis Pabon made a full 10-count with Groves still on
A victorious Smith fell to his knees on the canvas, visibly
moved, as his three brothers rushed into the ring to congratulate him.
"I waited so long. It just means everything,"
Smith said from the ring.
"I'm not a man who shows a lot of emotion. You never see
me ecstatic, but you can see tonight... it's a lifetime of work, all gone into
"I'd like to wish (Groves) good luck in whatever he
Smith was handed the Muhammad Ali Trophy by the boxing
legend's daughter Rasheda Ali. He also now hold the RING Magazine title.
Both Smith and Groves had expressed surprise with the choice
of venue, telling reporters they would have preferred to fight closer to home
to give their family and fans a chance to attend the fight.
Friday night's bout, which opened at 22:00 is the first
international boxing event to be hosted by Saudi Arabia, the ultraconservative
kingdom that has launched a massive campaign to clean up its image.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the Saudi king, was
appointed heir to the throne in June 2017 and has since spearheaded a campaign
aimed at modernising his country, including ending a ban on women driving and
allowing women to enter sports stadiums.
The western city of Jeddah has long had a reputation as more
tolerant than the Saudi capital and this year hosted a WWE event, headlined by
US wrestling star John Cena.