George Groves' rehabilitation from his latest world title loss began with a comfortable fifth-round victory over Andrea Di Luisa on Saturday.
The London super-middleweight gave himself a much-needed confident boost by flooring Italian Andrea Di Luisa twice in the fifth round at the Copper Box Arena. Di Luisa was also given a count in the fourth round, which seemed harsh, but this was a one-sided win which was just what Groves needed to get his career back on track.
Groves, 27, could not afford another setback after being out-pointed by US-based Swede Badou Jack for the WBC world title in Las Vegas last September.
That split points loss followed stoppage defeats to Nottingham's Carl Froch for other versions of the world title in 2013 and 2014, leaving Groves defeated in three of his previous five fights as he climbed through the ropes in east London.
But Groves showed he is far from finished and by the fifth round Di Luisa was looking for the exit signs.
Groves had new trainer Shane McGuigan -- son of former world featherweight champion Barry -- in his corner and he looked fresh and sharp from the first bell in a one-side bout.
By the third round Di Luisa's face was leaking blood but was harshly given a count in the fourth round after he ducked low -- although he did not touch down -- following a right hook to the temple.
But there was no doubt about the two knockdowns in the fifth round that prompted the Italian's corner to throw in the towel.
Di Luisa went down first from a body shot and then was returned to the canvas by a couple of stiff right hands. The Italian's corner then obligingly threw in the towel.
"I feel good and fresh," said Groves, who wants to fight again in April or May.
"My promoter Kalle Sauerland has plenty of shows all over Europe and we will look for another date soon. It feels like a winning team [with trainer Shane McGuigan, who also trains IBF world super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton and former WBA world heavyweight champion David Haye] and I'll do some more training with Shane and look to improve before the next one."