And The New: IBF Super Middleweight Champion
By TOM WATT on May 25 2015
This past Saturday night in Boston saw two former Olympians in America’s Andre Dirrell and Britain’s James DeGale go head to head for the recently vacated IBF Super-Middleweight Title. A closely fought battle between two of the division’s best ended in a Unanimous Decision win for James ‘Chunky’ DeGale with the judges’ scorecards reading 114-112 (2) and 117-109. Whilst there can be some debate as the margins on the cards, the result itself was not up for debate.
Many came into this fight expecting a chess-match between two very tricky southpaws, what they got was a Boxing match that exhibited all that the sweet science has to offer. Both men came out of the blocks looking sharp and keen to make an impact early on but it was DeGale who took command, working busily behind his jab and controlling the centre of the ring. In the second round DeGale landed cleanly with a hook that floored Dirrell – the American was able to beat the count but was soon back on the canvas as the bell sounded for the end of the round, DeGale was in control.
DeGale then had his man wobbled again in the third round but seemed reluctant to throw too much caution to the wind, mindful that World Title shots don’t grow on trees and clearly not wanting to gas out too early, easing up allowed Dirrell to regain his composure though and take the round. As the fight moved into the middle rounds DeGale seemed to take his foot off the gas and as he did so Dirrell began to build some momentum for himself, comfortably winning rounds 7,8,9 and 10.
As the Championship rounds loomed DeGale’s corner urged him to raise his game and not take the win for granted, with so many close rounds and fighting on away soil, Team Chunky didn’t want to leave anything to chance and DeGale lifted his game once again, winning round 11 with two of the judges and dominating in the fight’s final round. As the bell sounded there was nothing left to do but wait for the decision. Boxing has somewhat of a reputation for throwing out controversial decisions, particularly when an ‘away fighter’ looks set to win so despite the stellar display and the knockdowns, tensions were high in the ring. As the scorecards were read out the excitement, relief and joy shown by the DeGale camp epitomise everything that winning a World Title should be as promoter Eddie Hearn and long-term trainer Jim McDonnell embraced the new World Champion.
DeGale had made history by becoming the first British Olympic Gold Medallist to become legitimate World Champion and he made it clear in his post-fight interviews that he isn’t done yet. “I could retire tomorrow and be a happy and humble man” said DeGale in an interview with IFL TV before going on to say he would fight ‘anyone’ in the division including long-term Super-Middleweight king, Andre Ward and DeGale’s own longstanding rival, George Groves – who can setup a massive unification fight if he is able to defeat Badou Jack in their upcoming WBC Title fight.
It has been a long road for James ‘Chunky’ DeGale to this World Title and the story is by no means complete as he now eyes unification fights in the division and big-money fights with some of the biggest names in the Sport. He will go into any fight now with the confidence that being a World Champion brings and having gone abroad to win a World Title in someone else’s backyard, DeGale can now look at dictating his own terms and building his legacy.
1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
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