James DeGale Makes History

By Robert Ecksel on May 24, 2015
James DeGale Makes History
DeGale was too focused, determined and strong for the game but outclassed Dirrell. (AP)

James DeGale made history Saturday afternoon by becoming the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a world title…

Saturday afternoon at the Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts, in a fight televised live on NBC, James DeGale (21-1, 14 KOs), from Harlesden, London, UK, made history by decisioning Andre Dirrell (24-2, 16 KOs), from Flint, Michigan, to win the vacant IBF super middleweight title. The final scores were 114-112 twice and a troubling 119-109.

One of the many knocks against Premier Boxing Champions is its supposed reluctance to put its star fighters in tough fights. No good businessman wants to risk his investment, and Al Haymon is nothing if not a good businessman. But DeGale vs. Dirrell, which looked good on paper, lived up to expectations and kicked that meme to the curb where it belongs.

Fighting out of the red corner in black trunks with white trim, DeGale asserted himself in the first. He worked effectively on the inside, using his legs to move in and out of range, landing an nice uppercut and solid hook from the southpaw stance. Dirrell, fighting out of the blue corner in white trunks, responded with some pinpoint punches of his own. When he was backed up he fought off the ropes and connected with enough solid shots to eke out round one.

All that changed and changed dramatically in the second.

DeGale connected with an uppercut. Dirrell looked sharp landing a series of combinations, one of which opened a gash above DeGale’s right eye. The blood might have bothered him, but not enough to prevent him from landing a beautiful looping left that sent Dirrell crashing to the canvas. Instead of taking his time, Andre jumped to his feet with his hands at his side and was met by a barrage of punches punctuated by another big left that drove him to the ropes, where he sunk to the mat a second time. It almost looked like it was over before it had begun.

Dirrell’s corner told him between rounds, “You can pull it out. Box, Andre,” encouraging words for a discouraged fighter.

The fighters traded jabs at the start of round three. Using his skills and athleticism, Dirrell fought his way back into the fight. DeGale, perhaps suffering a bit of letdown after the previous round, caught Dirrell with two punches at the bell to make it a toss-up.

Dirrell switched from a southpaw to an orthodox stance at the start of the fourth, but DeGale was on fire. He was landing right jabs, straight lefts, and beating Dirrell to the punch.

Round five was no different. DeGale was fighting smart and fighting effective. Boxing, moving around the ring, letting his hands go, he was landing double jabs and straight lefts at the bell to end the round. It looked like DeGale was pulling away. It looked like Dirrell had no chance of catching him.

DeGale continued the onslaught in round six. A four-punch combination followed by a nasty 1-2 brought blood to Dirrell’s mouth and nose. James was beating up Andre. The left side of his face was starting to swell. But the ring general from across the pond didn’t stop to admire his handiwork. A lead right hook sent Dirrell’s blood flying. The Yank landed a nice counter at the bell, but it wasn’t enough to win the round or save the fight.

Things suddenly got interesting in the seventh. Dirrell let his hands go just as DeGale began to fade. He landed a four-punch combination that drove DeGale to the ropes. DeGale fired back, but most of his punches bounced off Andre’s guard. Whenever James attempted to mount an offense, Dirrell countered and pushed him back. The tide had turned. Dirrell won the round and was coming on strong at the bell.

Dirrell won the next three rounds. He had momentum on his side and DeGale wasn’t punching back. His hands were down. He was looking for the one big shot to end it. But that big shot had come and gone in the second and now it was anyone’s fight. Dirrell was pumped. Between rounds nine and 10 he told DeGale, “C’mon motherfucker. Work motherfucker.” Success was breeding success as we entered the championship rounds.

DeGale got his second wind in the 11th. Dirrell started strong but as the seconds ticked off, DeGale again came into his own. He was connecting with punches at the bell to clinch the round.

The fight was up for grabs going into the 12th and final round. DeGale initially kept his distance. He sensed he had the fight won. Dirrell, for reasons known only to him, wasn’t punching. James landed a four-punch combination that pushed his opponent to the ropes. DeGale backed off to ring center, whereupon Dirrell proceeded to follow him around the ring. DeGale landed a right at the bell to seal the deal, the victory, and the IBF super middleweight title.

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  1. Koolz 02:51pm, 05/24/2015

    One thing people have to understand about Golovkin he does exactly what Sanchez says.  If Sanchez tells him to not knock the guy out yet, then GGG isn’t knocking the guy out.
    if Sanchez says I like what you are doing but I want to see more Head to body combinations, then the next round you will see that.
    This is also part of Golovkin’s Success.
    Sanchez will have a plan against Froch and GGG will deliver.

    Monroe fight"don’t worry keep pressuring him and what you are looking for will come”(sixth round TKO)

    DeGale later fight GGG…maybe but I can’t see DeGale being able to win that fight ever.  And Golovkin beat Dirrell in the Amateurs.

  2. Koolz 01:25pm, 05/24/2015

    That was such a close fight.  DeGale did just enough in that last round to win it.
    Very exciting fight.  Funny while I was watching it I was picturing GGG fighting DeGale and not Dirrell and well, the fight would have been a KO fifth round to GGG.

    And no I do not see Froch winning against Golovkin but hope to hell the fight happens!

  3. The Tache 10:15am, 05/24/2015

    Congratulations to DeGale, I was worried that he appeared to be throwing it away but thought he just nicked it by a couple of points.
    Froch was in the studio for the UK broadcast and said he is deciding next week if he will retire or fight again. They asked about GGG and he said that that would be a fight that would interest him, whether he means it not I don’t know. I did chuckle when Glenn McCrory, his co-analyst said he would fancy GGG in that one.

  4. Matt Mosley 10:11am, 05/24/2015

    Irish Frankie - Yeah, some of the fickle type fans who jump from one bandwagon to the next. You see plenty on the net.
    I saw nothing different in GGG against Monroe than what we usually see, other than that Monroe was a little harder to pin down than most.
    GGG searches and destroys. I would like to see him in with some elite opponents now though, if possible.
    I know what you mean though, maybe Froch thought he saw some weaknesses like some others said they did.
    That could be good for Golovkin though as it could make some fights easier to make now.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:05am, 05/24/2015

    Matt Mosley-Good points….it’s just that everyone seems frisky and froggy for GGG now, based in large part on unwarranted negative critiques by some of his destruction of Monroe who in my estimation is anything but a chump and would give both Canelo and Cotto fits.

  6. Matt Mosley 05:27am, 05/24/2015

    Irish Frankie, remember though that Froch will be the naturally bigger man in there, has a great chin and can punch a bit himself.
    I’m sure GGG would be the rightful favourite but I wouldn’t count Froch out so easily.
    GGG has the skills and technique advantage but will his KO power carry up to 168 as effectively as it is at 160?
    Of course, Froch is getting older so I would certainly favour GGG but I think it could be more of a fight than some think.
    I might go to see it live if it gets made.

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:56pm, 05/23/2015

    Here’s Froch’s going away fight…oh wait….I forgot…..he only get’s excited by guys like GGG these days…..he’ll get excited alright if he gets in with GGG because his ass will literally be on fire before that night is done and done!

  8. Clarence George 05:42pm, 05/23/2015

    I had it 113-112 for DeGale.  Alan Davis’ 117-109 is inexplicable, and the same is true of Robert Benoit stopping the Rodriguez-Baker fight.  Plenty of incompetence to go around, as usual.

  9. Laurena 05:17pm, 05/23/2015

    It was a good fight and Dirrell showed a lot of heart after the knockdowns, which are not something he’s accustomed to. Hopefully the viewers keep PBC on network television. The fans who earn barely a living wage deserve to enjoy the sport, too. Lovely job, Robert, as always.

  10. nicolas 04:05pm, 05/23/2015

    I scored the fight a draw. But have no trouble with Degale getting the win. If anyone deserved it, he did. I only gave Degale the 11th of the last 6th. Was surprised to see on the score cards that they all gave Degale the first round, but it was close. Dirrell definitely deserves a rematch.

  11. Matt Mosley 03:28pm, 05/23/2015

    Good fight.
    I had it 114-113 DeGale and thought it could have gone either way.
    The 117-109 card for JD was BS.
    Dirrell proved he DOES have the heart required for the top level and
    can make for some good fights.
    I think he could get a rematch with JD down the line.
    JD took his foot of the gas but like he said he wasn’t fighting some chump.
    Both good fighters.
    I think Dirrel had the edge in skills and technique but DeGale just did enough
    to outfight him. The knockdowns were obviously the big factor.
    Don’t see DeGale beating the 168lb no.1 Ward.
    He might give him a pretty good fight though.

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