George Groves made a winning return in his first fight since losing to Carl Froch in May by outpointing Frenchman Christopher Rebrasse at Wembley Arena.
The unanimous verdict saw Groves claim Rebrasse’s European super middleweight crown and the vacant WBC silver title.
The fight also doubled as a final eliminator for the WBC world title, which means Groves could now face Anthony Dirrell for a shot at the undefeated American’s belt. Groves came into the fight on the back of successive defeats to IBF and WBA champion Froch – the first of his career – with his eighth-round defeat at Wembley Stadium earlier this year following the controversial nine-round defeat to the same opponent last November.
Even though he was the challenger, the 26-year-old Londoner was still the favourite against Rebrasse, who had won 22 of 27 fights at a lower level. Despite largely dominating throughout, Groves was unable to put the Frenchman away and was forced to go all 12 rounds.
However, he eventually took the title, with two judges giving ‘The Saint’ victory by 118-110 and one by 117-111. “It was a tough fight,” said Groves. “Rebrasse was a good opponent, a tough guy, he took an awful lot of punches. You always have to be cautious against a guy who has never been stopped. I want to knock people out, I didn’t manage it tonight but I gave it a real good go.”
On the prospect of facing Dirrell next, Groves added: “He’s already done some statements, he’s a bit cheeky, a little bit outspoken. He’s been very disrespectful. Disrespectful to Rebrasse. I knock out a lot of guys and he took a lot on the chin tonight, Dirrell – I’m not sure he’ll stand up to that. He got his win, he’s champion, I’ll give him that respect, but he says he doesn’t want to come to the UK, we might just make him. He says he doesn’t want to fight me, but now he has to.”
Groves said he would be happy to face another opponent if need be as he waits for Dirrell, while he also took the opportunity to challenge Froch – who was working at the fight as a summariser – to a third showdown. Groves told Froch: “Carl, you stopped me twice, but I still think I can beat you. I’d love to have another crack so if you’re up for it, maybe next year who knows? I’m up for it.”
Froch, who stopped Groves both times by knockout, responded: “When it’s 2-0, it’s 2-0. When you’re playing pool in the local, if it’s 1-1 you’ve got to have a decider haven’t you, but when it’s 2-0 you’re going home with a smile on your face.”
Froch went on to say that he has a few options in the pipeline for his next fight, including the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Dirrell, James DeGale and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.