History was made last Saturday when James DeGale became the first British Olympic Gold medalist to win a world title by overcoming a mid-round surge from Michigan native Andre Dirrell over twelve rounds at the Agganis Arena on Boston University campus.
DeGale got off to a fast start by knocking Dirrell down twice in the 2nd round with powerful left hand shots. Dirrell managed to survive the end of the round and DeGale fought too cautiously in the next round to capitalize on his chance at a knockout victory.
Slowly, Dirrell managed to work his way back into the fight by moving forward and displaying his quick hands by throwing multiple punch combinations. Some of his punches were ineffective, but DeGale did more coasting than punching which hurt the big lead he had on the scorecards.
DeGale’s tactics throughout the middle rounds were hurtful to his lead because it allowed Dirrell to become the aggressor and get back into the fight. Dirrell never hurt DeGale, but he won plenty of rounds just by coming forward and putting pressure on a fatigued-looking DeGale.
During the championship rounds, DeGale finally woke up and actually started to throw punches again instead of talking and coasting. He threw the more noticeable punches, but Dirrell seemed to throw more overall during these rounds. When the final bell rang, both men looked confident they had done enough to win the fight.
DeGale captured the IBF super-middleweight title with a unanimous decision by scores of 114-112 (twice) and a questionable score of 117-109. I scored the bout dead even 113-113.
DeGale’s performance was good but not great. He gave away too many rounds in the middle of the fight and his punches at times were wide and wild. Dirrell showed a lot of courage and toughness in coming back from a brutal 2nd round, qualities a lot people doubted he possessed.
The fight overall was entertaining although at times it seems the two men were talking more than punching. A rematch is plausible, but DeGale will most likely take an easy 1st defense or try to get a fight with one of the other beltholders in the division. He showed a lot of emotion and confidence in calling out the beltholders as well as Gennady Golovkin.
Whatever DeGale decides to do, hopefully he’ll do more punching than talking in the ring.