By Elliot Foster
Callum Smith is a world champion after three years of waiting.
The 28-year-old super-middleweight knocked out George Groves to claim the status of the best fighter on the planet in his weight division.
Smith had success in parts in the fight, as did Groves, but the third round of the fight was the start of the end for the outgoing champion.
‘Mundo’ had his man in trouble and continued in the ascendency at the indoor arena at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium up until the referee Luis Pabon counted out ‘The Saint’ in the seventh round, exclusively live on ITV Box Office.
Groves was hurt by a barrage of shots from the man trained by 2015 Ring Magazine trainer of the year Joe Gallagher and failed to rise from the canvas as Smith claimed the WBA Super world super-middleweight title, while retaining his WBC Diamond belt and picking up the vacant Ring Magazine bauble and the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
“It’s been a long time coming and I thought, going into the fight, that this could have been my only chance. If I didn’t take this chance, would another one come along?” Smith said afterwards. “George is a very good champion, he’s had a brilliant career and it was a pleasure to share a ring with him. Whether he carries on or not, I just want to wish him the best in whatever he does next.”
Smith played Groves at his own game in the fight, keeping the fight long and using his height and reach advantage to outhustle the 30-year-old.
The end, in the seventh round, began with a left hook. It finished with a body shot followed by another left hook and Groves couldn’t recover.
“It was unforgettable. I had waited this long and you start doubting but I am a big believer in my own ability and I knew I could become a world champion and be the best in the world,” Smith continued. “I had a slow couple of years and people forgot about how good I am but I proved it tonight. I feel like I was winning at the time of the stoppage but I think I was beating him at his own game and I knew I had the power to hurt him.
“We knew Groves is heavy handed but I knew I could do that, it was a bit of a chess match but I got my shots off first and he couldn’t take it.
“I have waited so long for this, I’m not a man who shows a lot of emotion, you never see me ecstatic, but you saw it tonight because it’s a lifetime ambition fulfilled.”