George Groves: Briton becomes world champion with win over Fedor Chudinov
George Groves ended his wait to become a world champion with a gutsy stoppage of Fedor Chudinov to land the WBA super-middleweight title in Sheffield.
The Briton was asked questions by Chudinov, but produced a display of heart, showcasing variety and power to win the title in the sixth round at Bramall Lane.
After being backed onto the ropes for much of the contest, Groves leapt forward with a right hand to begin a sustained attack and moments later referee Steve Gray stopped the Russian.
Groves raised his arms before slumping on the ropes after finally taking a world strap at the fourth time of asking.
World champion… at last
If - and when - Groves publishes a book after retirement, the chapters focused on 2014 through to 2017 will make compelling reading.
Defeats in world-title shots to Carl Froch twice and later Badou Jack in 2015 had prompted soul-searching for Groves, who has since admitted he was confused about his position in the sport having suffered such disappointments.
But a change of trainer - joining forces with Shane McGuigan - has delivered five straight wins, culminating in this admirable display at Bramall Lane, where he finally got what he wanted.
In many ways, the bout itself was a rollercoaster befitting his career. Though he started as an odds-on favourite, Groves faced sustained pressure from Chudinov, who simply walked the Briton down time and again, denying him space.
Even when the pair clinched, Chudinov was aggressive in throwing punches as they grappled and his attacks drew blood above Groves' left eye in the third round.
The underdog was showing the qualities that had previously won him the WBA title that he lost to Felix Sturm in 2016 - though Sturm later vacated the title and tested positive for steroids.
That loss was the only one of his career until now and, in truth, having been the aggressor for so long, he may wonder how the tide was turned so quickly.
But Groves' spring from the ropes to begin his assault was classy and the variety of hooks and straight rights which followed simply overwhelmed his opponent.
What next for Saint George?
This win creates the potential for an all-British unification match between Groves and IBF champion James DeGale.
Groves beat DeGale in 2011 and has sought out a second meeting in the past.
The pair debated the prospect when ringside for David Haye's defeat to Tony Bellew in March and with this win and a subsequent title, Groves now has collateral.
The other champions in the division, WBA king Tyron Zeuge and WBO title-holder Gilberto Ramirez, will not frighten Groves, though meetings with either will hardly offer the pay-per-view potential a clash with DeGale would.
But the next step is a question for tomorrow. Groves is a world champion, at last.