George Groves remained unbeaten with victory over veteran Glen Johnson
Last Updated: December 16, 2012 6:47am
George Groves: One of many unable to break the spirit of Glen Johnson
George Groves defended his Commonwealth super-middleweight title with a points victory over veteran Glen Johnson at the ExCel Arena.
Groves, now 16-0, threw every punch in his arsenal but was unable to shift the immovable Canadian, just two weeks short of his 44th birthday.
The Briton went for the early stoppage and loaded up in the first two rounds in a bid to become only the second man to prevent Johnson hearing the final bell.
But with the former world champion still in there, Groves had to wind back the pace and pick his shots more carefully with the veteran still dangerous with the right hand, on the few occasions he was able to throw it.
Groves was rightly wary but the emphasis was very much on offence throughout the entire 12 rounds, with Johnson increasingly unable to offer much by way of aggression.
It looked as though the end could come in the sixth round, one of Johnson's more active until Groves trapped him on the ropes late in the session, unloading a barrage of hurtful blows.
The venom continued in the next with Johnson merely looking only to defend as Groves threw leather for the first two minutes without barely a punch in return.
It was remarkable that the veteran was still upright and Groves backed away on several occasions with a look that suggested he couldn't believe it either.
The eighth was quieter as a result but it was another chalked up for the Brit, as were the 'championship rounds' with Groves eventually claiming a shutout on points.
Johnson did hit the canvas late in the final session but it was more of a slip than anything else although he was still administered a count.
Former top amateur Billy Joe Saunders was taken the distance by Nick Blackwell before adding the British title to his Commonwealth middleweight strap.
Saunders was never in serious trouble but 22-year-old Blackwell made him look uncomfortable for the first time in a professional ring.
Saunders had the better of the early exchanges but Blackwell appeared unperturbed and gradually clawed his way back into it.
The challenger walked his opponent down despite taking Saunders' heavier shots, having plenty of successes of his own and opening up a cut by the champion's right eye.
Blackwell, whose only previous defeat was to Martin Murray, proved his fitness as he came on strongly past the halfway mark, backing Saunders up and making him look sluggish at times.
But Saunders' early lead and ultimately classier work made him a deserved winner in his third title defence of the year, the judges scoring it 117-112, 116-113 and 115-114.
Earlier in the night, Liam Smith won the vacant Commonwealth light-middleweight title with a unanimous points victory over game Londoner Steve O'Meara.
Smith becomes the third of four boxing brothers to claim a domestic title.