Undefeated British & Commonwealth Super-middleweight champion George ‘The Saint’ Groves produced a stunning finish to stop dangerous Mexican Francisco Sierra in the sixth round of a superb fight in San Jose.
The Saint was boxing for the first time in eight months after a series of injuries had ruled him out of clashes with Kenny Anderson and WBO World Champion Robert Stieglitz, but he soon shook off any ring rust to stop Sierra after a spectacular four punch combo sent the tough Mexican crashing to the canvas in the sixth round.
Boxing out in San Jose, California on the undercard of the Robert Guerrero v Selcuk Aydin WBC Welterweight clash, Groves, now (15-0, 12 KO), made a steady start to the contest, taking the opening rounds despite an aggressive start from Sierra with good work to the body and some neat right hands. However, a head clash in the third opened up a nasty cut to the side of the Saint's right eye and the Hammersmith man was forced to dig deep.
Good work from the Groves corner stemmed the blood and Groves won the fourth with more big right hands before a close fifth saw the Saint take a huge shot to the body towards the close of the round. That only served to galvanise Groves though, as he came out firing in the sixth.
A stunning combination of shots dropped Sierra heavily and though the Mexican managed to climb to his feet, Groves stormed in to force the referee to jump in and halt the contest to hand the Saint his fifteenth professional win.
Talking after the fight, Groves commented that Sierra was every bit as tough as he had expected he'd be:
"We asked [Golden Boy matchmaker] Robert Diaz for a real solid opponent, a tough test and Francisco Sierra definitely was. He had a good record, a strong guy, he knows how to throw a punch, takes a good shot and he proved that tonight I think.
"It was about breaking him down methodically and not tearing right into him. The first couple of rounds was just taking the distance off him and totally making him miss completely.
"In the sixth round I think, a big shot went in. And I can sort of feel him half slumped. I said to myself 'do I jump on him now or do I give him a couple of seconds [to feel him out]' and obviously I made the right decision."
The fight marked the Saint's second outing in the US after another six round stoppage win almost exactly 2 years to the day, out in Las Vegas, and Groves admitted he relished the experience.
"I love it out here. I made a few mistakes the first time I came out here. But you learn things and then you adjust to fighting in different time zones and out here is a different culture of boxing. Generally the fighters are better here.
"There’s loads of room for improvement, but for me the main thing was to come out here, get some solid rounds under my belt and do a job properly and hopefully win over some support.
"This fighter had some support but I think in the end I won over a few fans and Golden Boy were very impressed and that was my main objective."