Groves Continues Momentum but Sprott Comes Up Short
By Mark Whalley
On Saturday night “Saint” George Groves recorded his second victory in just a fortnight, stopping the overmatched Baker Barakat inside two rounds in Magdeburg, Germany.
Groves is building towards a big fight on the Froch/Kessler undercard on May 25th, and saw Barakat as an opportunity to put a few more competitive rounds in the bank without coming under too much threat of defeat.
Indeed Barakat, who already had 13 defeats to his name, lived up to his billing as a lamb to the slaughter by spending the entire fight covering his chin and refusing to attack.
Consequently, Groves found it easy to locate his target, enjoying plenty of success to the body with heavy-handed shots.
He wobbled Barakat right at the end of the first with a tasty left uppercut, but the bell saved the Syria-born pugilist.
The second round was much of the same, and Groves eventually floored Barakat with an overhand right, though it seemed to land on the back of the head.
Barakat managed to get to his feet but looked unsteady, and the referee waved off the fight seconds later when another Groves right snapped his opponent’s head back violently.
On the same card, veteran heavyweight Michael Sprott lost a points decision to Robert Helenius – nicknamed the “Nordic Nightmare”.
The Reading-born fighter put up a game fight but ultimately did not have enough to worry Helenius, who has won all of his fights (including a robbery of a victory against Dereck Chisora) but is struggling to live up to his early promise as a legitimate threat to the Klitschko brothers.
Both fights were on the undercard of a WBO super-middleweight world title fight between Robert Stieglitz and Arthur Abraham.
Stieglitz’s gameplan was to immediately overwhelm champion Abraham, who notoriously covers up into a “turtle shell” defence to save energy for the later rounds.
The tactics worked, with Abraham unable to handle the sheer volume of punches Stieglitz sent his way. The fight was stopped after the end of the 3rd round due to a horrible amount of swelling to Abraham’s left eye.
The result will be of particular interest to Groves, who has been trying to line himself up to face the winner.
If the fight can be made, he will fancy his chances against Stieglitz, who represents a softer proposition than the other world class operators at the top of the super-middleweight division – namely Andre Ward, Mikkel Kessler, and Nottingham’s own Carl Froch.