Callum Smith beats George Groves via seventh-round knockout to win WBA world title

Callum Smith celebrates his super-middleweight win over George Groves. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Callum Smith knocked out George Groves in the seventh round to be crowned WBA world super-middleweight champion in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) Final on Friday.

Smith beat his English rival in a third defence to capture this first world title and defend the fringe WBC Diamond belt at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Victory also saw Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) lift the Muhammad Ali Trophy in the first year of the WBSS eight-man elimination tournament. Ali's daughter, Rashidah Ali, presented unbeaten Smith with the trophy commissioned for the WBSS that began a year ago, and which also featured a cruiserweight tournament that Oleksandr Usyk won in July.

All four world titles were on the line when Usyk outboxed Murat Gassiev and, although only one world title belt was on the line in Jeddah, Smith has emerged as new the world's super-middleweight's No 1.

Smith earned most of the $10 million purse from winning the all-English fight that took place thousands of miles away from the boxers' home nation -- in the first world title fight ever to be staged in Saudi Arabia.

He also became the second person in his family to win a world title after brother Liam ruled as WBO super-welterweight champion from 2015 to 2016.

"It has been a long time coming," Smith said. "I thought I've waited this long will another chance come? But I'm a big believer in my own ability and I knew I was good enough to become the best on the planet and I believe I've done that.

"I felt I was ahead on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage, I was out-boxing him at distance.

"I always knew I had the power to finish it but I also showed I had the boxing ability. I knew I could wait and got my big shots off first."

Groves (28-4, 20 KOs) had questions to answer before the fight. Mainly, concerns about his fitness after dislocating his left shoulder in his semifinal points win over Chris Eubank Jr in February.

But in the end, it came down to Smith's astute boxing and ability to land his big shots from long range, beginning the end with a left hook to the temple before following up to leave Groves in a heap on the canvas.

"Full credit to Callum, he boxed well," Groves said. "He's heavy handed and he caught me with a body shot at the end.

"I'm going to have a good rest, I'm not retiring. It has been a dogged year. It was a little over a year ago when I won the title and I miss my family and kids."

Smith, the youngest of three boxing brothers (Paul, Stephen and Liam) from Liverpool, certainly had an easier route to the final with wins over Erik Skoglund and substitute opponent Nieky Holzken.

Smith, 28, made a good start in his first world title fight, finishing the first round with a cluster of punches.

Groves, 30, was full of feints and sharp jabs early in the second while Smith, who had a four-inch height and six-inch reach advantages, opted to box at range.

Smith staggered Groves with a right hand on the counter in the third round, before launching into a vicious assault with the champion penned against the ropes. Groves did well to survive the storm and come out firing, on steadier legs, landing a good left hook.

Smith's right hand continued to find the target in the fourth, but Groves was more successful with the jab later in the round. Smith then probed patiently for opportunities to land the right hand in the fifth round, but Groves again landed more with the jab.

Groves was having a good sixth round, landing jabs despite his shortfall in reach, when he was nailed with a jolting right hand to the jaw thrown from long range. He was then caught and stunned by a counter attack in the seventh, rocking backwards by a sweet left hook to the temple.

Smith was unrelenting in his attack with the champion trapped in the corner. A right to the body and a right uppercut among a barrage of punches sunk Groves to his knees, and was counted out.

Beaten WBSS semi-finalist Eubank Jr, the son of former world champion in the 1990s Chris Sr, made a return to winning ways after his opponent, JJ McDonagh, retired at the end of three rounds due to an injured right shoulder.

McDonagh was then incensed with Eubank's post-fight comments in the ring while being interviewed for television and the Irishman had to be restrained from starting the fight again.

Eubank (27-2, 21 KOs) 29, from Brighton, is now hoping to face Englishman and the former IBF world super-middleweight champion James DeGale (24-2-1, 14 KOs) in December.

"I've been out the ring seven months and it was an opportunity to shake off some ring rust but I was a bit too tough for him," Eubank said.

"He was starting to feel my power. Now we are looking for a big fight. That [DeGale] is definitely a fight I'm looking forward to and we are trying to make it happen."