On 4th October Groves entered Bethnal Green's historic York Hall to rapturous applause as a sea of coloured Saint George Groves T-shirts rose to greet their hero. And in true style, the young hopeful from Hammersmith delighted his ever-growing army of supporters with a contest full of true grit, determination and confidence beyond his years, storming to victory in his fifth fight, up against tough Latvian Light-Heavyweight Martin Kukuls, in the fifth round of their scheduled eight round contest.
Boxing for the first time since April, it isn’t hard to see why the hard-hitting 21 year-old is so popular, respectfully wearing a black armband and dedicating his bout to Darren Sutherland, following his tragic death.
Late replacement Kukuls proved to be far stronger than his record might suggest and provided a good test for Groves. He’d originally been scheduled to box Matthew Barr, a fighter currently placed slightly above him in the British rankings, only for the Southpaw to pull out at late notice leaving Kukuls to step in.
Groves made a measured start to the contest, feinting well and showing good movement as Kukuls came forward. It was a promising start, with the Latvian showing he had come to win, purposefully attempting to back Groves onto the ropes and unload. He landed very little though, missing with the left hook several times in the opening two rounds as Groves displayed good defense and footwork to avoid any trouble whilst countering with some thunderous shots.
Groves began the third in impressive fashion, working the jab with more frequency and picking off his opponent at will, the Latvian finding it virtually impossible to get inside. But it was in the fourth round Groves truly unleashed his wrath, using the jab to force Kukuls backwards onto the ropes before unloading with some crunching hooks to the body. Several such bursts ensued before an excellent right uppercut sent the Latvian back-peddling onto the ropes. Groves rained in the body shots again as he looked to finish the fight but was halted by the bell as the round came to an end.
The fifth saw more of the same as Groves used his outstanding jab to back up Kukuls and set-up the shots to the body. By now, the Latvian was showing a very tight defense, with his hands tucked high and very few punches being returned. It meant Groves needed to be accurate with his punches and he was, landing a sweet left to the midsection that brought Kukuls to his knees. The ref gave him an 8 count before continuing the action, but as the crowd roared, Groves stormed forward with an assault of blows to the head and body, landing some crunching shots that eventually convinced the Kukuls corner to throw in the towel. The referee didn’t spot this at first but had come to his own conclusion anyway, calling time on a bout that had Groves supporters on their feet, showing their appreciation for the saintly spectacle they’d just witnessed.
After his win Groves, who recently signed with promoter Frank Maloney, said,
“I’m feeling good. It all went to plan. He was a tough nut to crack, he made me work, and so all the stuff we’ve been practising in the gym that I wanted to put into the fight I was able to do,
“I’ve got a hectic schedule in the next five weeks. I’m boxing on Frank’s show up in Sunderland on October 16, in just 12 days time. I’ll be boxing alongside Tony Jeffries and Travis Dickinson, the next two around my class, so I’m out to prove I’m better than them guys.”
Ratings - World: 3/1,279
Ratings - British: 2/52
Residence: London, UK
Won: 25 (KO18)
Rounds Boxed: 176