By Jeff Sorby: Super middleweight contender George Groves (17-0, 13 KO’s) made easy work of Dario Balmaceda (11-7-2, 7 KO’s) in stopping him in the 3rd round in a two knockdown performance on Saturday night in the 24-year-old Groves’ first fight with Matchroom Sport at the Wembley Arena in London, UK. Grove put the lanky Balmaceda down with a short right hand to the body in the 2nd.
In the 3rd, Groves finished Balmaceda with a powerful right hand to the jaw that put him down. Balmaceda got back up but the fight was halted at 0:58 of the round. Groves, #1 WBO, will now be fighting on May 25th as the co-main event on the Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler fight card. Groves is supposed to be facing a quality opponent for that fight, and it could be his last fight before he gets a title shot against the Arthur Abraham vs. Robert Stieglitz winner.
Fighting in his second straight tune-up fight, former EBU middleweight champion Darren Barker (25-1, 15 KO’s) defeated Simone Rotolo (35-4, 15 KO’s) by a 4th round stoppage. Rotolo couldn’t come out for the 5th round due to an injury he suffered to his right hand. Barker knocked Rotolo down in the 1st round, and had him hurt in the 3rd and 4th rounds from solid shots. Rotolo’s injury in the 4th may have saved him from being knocked out in the 5th because the fight was heading in that direction if it had been allowed to continue. Barker’s promoter Eddie Hearn says he wants to match him against a better opponent for his next fight. Let’s hope so because he’s had too easy fights back to back, and he can certainly fight better guys than Rotolo.
In welterweight action, a bloated Lee Purdy (20-3-1, 13 KO’s) came out looking like a super middleweight and was able to dominate the lighter Cosme Rivera (35-16-3, 24 KO’s) in beating him by a 9th round stoppage. The fight was stopped by the advice of the ringside doctor due to Rivera having suffered a bad cut over his right eye. Purdy knocked Rivera down in the 1st round from a left hook to the head.
The much heavier looking Purdy stalked Rivera around the ring all night, hitting him with hard shots, and walking through his lighter punches. Purdy looked enormous in there and it would have been interesting to see how much he weighed because it was like he was three divisions heavier than Rivera. In the 8th, Rivera staggered Purdy with a right hand, and was giving him trouble in the 9th when the fight was halted.