On the undercard for Errol Spence Jr. vs. Kell Brook, English super middleweight George Groves stopped Fedor Chudinov for the vacant WBA strap. The British broadcast team made a big deal out of Groves “finally becoming a world champion.”
As a boxing writer dedicated to the truth, I am duty bound to point out that Groves absolutely did not “become a world champion” last weekend. He won an alphabet-soup trinket.
Boxing fans should certainly be celebrating Groves’ victory, though. It reaffirms him as one of the division’s most relevant fighters and sets up some extremely compelling unification fights.
The 29-year-old veteran looked as good as ever against Chudinov. The stout Russian came forward relentlessly, applying pressure and attempting to bully Groves along the ropes and into the corners. But Groves used a strategic mix of punches to body and head in order break down Chudinov’s defenses. In Round 6, referee Steve Gray awarded Groves a TKO victory, saving the gutsy Russian from his own bravery.
While there is no true champion at 168 pounds, there are now four very respectable belt holders, and three of them have history together.
WBC champ Badou Jack defeated Groves via split decision in September 2015. Jack faced IBF champion James DeGale last January, escaping with a majority draw.
DeGale’s only career loss came to Groves back in 2011, when the two were both highly regarded prospects.
Now that all three men hold belts, some rematches are clearly in order.
The fourth belt holder at 168 pounds is Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez, the WBO standard bearer. He’s 35-0 with 24 KOs and captured his belt when he shut out veteran Arthur Abraham in April 2016. Just 25, he has imposing height and reach. I think he might end up being the best of the four would-be kings.
If this was a perfect world, a four-man tournament would immediately take place. But in boxing, things don’t simply happen, just because they should.