Groves and DeGale win to stay on course

Rivals George Groves and James DeGale stayed on course for world title challenges – and a possible rematch – by winning their respective fights at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.

Groves stopped Denis Douglin of the United States in the seventh round, while his fellow West Londoner DeGale impressed with a third-round stoppage of Marco Antonio Periban.

DeGale is the mandatory challenger for the WBA and IBF super-middleweight titles Carl Froch twice defended against Groves, who has repositioned himself after those defeats by becoming the mandatory challenger for the WBC belt currently held by American Anthony Dirrell.

DeGale, who lost narrowly on points to Groves when they met in 2011, finished off Periban by  landing with a big left and following it with another to send his man sprawling into the ropes.

Referee Howard Foster immediately called a halt to the contest without bothering to count.

It seemed another premature stoppage by Foster, who infamously ended Groves’ first clash with Froch when the Hammersmith man had appeared to be in a commanding position.

But there was no doubt that DeGale looked in a different league to Periban despite the experienced Mexican having previously challenged for a world title.

DeGale was aggressive from the start, landing with heavy shots in the opening round.

Periban fared better in the second but the fight came to a sudden end when he was caught with a couple of beautifully delivered punches from the former Olympic champion.

Groves was next up and was caused problems by the workmanlike Douglin in the first four rounds – and was left with a cut near the bridge of his nose after a clash of heads.

But he began to take control, landing with heavy shots in the fifth and again troubling Douglin, who was visibly tiring, in round six.

And Groves’ power told when he followed a crunching body shot with a thumping blow to the head which floored his opponent.

Douglin got to his feet but was clearly badly shaken and as Groves pounced with more shots, the referee stepped in.

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