By Rory Fitzgerald
DeGale makes history
British Super Middleweight James DeGale made history in Boston on Saturday night by becoming the first Brit to win an Olympic gold medal and a professional world title. He defeated American Andre Dirrell to win the IBF World super middle weight title.
“Chunky” came into this fight as a marginal favourite and he showed why, oozing class in the first four rounds of the fight. The 29 year old southpaw was dominant in the early going, showing great speed and strength to gain the centre of the ring and seemed to be able to land his left hand at will.
It was a crunching left hand in the third round that sent the American to the canvas. Dirrell gingerly got back to his feet when DeGale went in for the kill. With his opponent stuck against the ropes, the Hammersmith man launched a barrage of shots to send the 31 year old to the mat again. “Chunky” was closing in on an incredible knockout victory when the bell saved his opponent.
Whatever was said to the Olympic gold medallist at the end of that round is unclear, but he came out for the 5th round a totally different fighter. Dirrell gained control of the centre of the ring and his confidence seemed to come back with every round. Winning rounds five through to ten. DeGale seemed happy to box and move, protecting a lead that was slowly being eroded.
A huge last two rounds by “Chunky” were a must and he duly responded. Both fighters had a nervous few moments wait while the scorecards were being read out. 114-112, twice and a remarkable scorecard from the Canadian judge who was obviously watching a different fight scoring it 117-109. All to the winner by unanimous decision, James DeGale.
“I will fight anyone” declared the new IBF champion after the fight.
On the undercard, Cork man Gary O’Sullivan defeated Melvin Betancourt with a second round stoppage. From early on in this one, it seemed apparent that “Spike” was only interested in an explosive knockout win to impress the watching American audience. Every chance he got, the Irishman was unloading bombs on his opponent. Betancourt did have some success of his own, with O’Sullivan’s lack of defensive work leaving him very open at times.
However, the man from the Dominican Republic simply could not deal with “Spike’s” power and was sent crashing down with a ferocious right hand that many would struggle to get back up from.
All credit to Betancourt as he got back to his feet and bravely answered the referee’s ten count. It only delayed the inevitable as a clubbing left hand from O’Sullivan was enough too see off his brave foe.
Bigger and better things await the Cork man as the big fights are surely only around the corner. Possible future opponents include Gennady Golovkin, Chris Eubank Jnr and Matthew Macklin. While a Munster show against Andy Lee would be a spectacle that would draw a massive crowd.
It wasn’t all good for the Irish as Cork based Cuban heavyweight Mike Perez hopes of getting a shot at Deontay Wilder were dashed in emphatic fashion by Alexander Povetkin in Moscow. The big Russian landed a huge right hand in the opening minute of the fight that Perez simply never recovered from. With only 91 seconds gone, Povetkin landed an even bigger right hand on the Cuban and unfortunately that was enough to see the home fighter get the victory.
Povetkin Vs Wilder could certainly be one the most exciting heavyweight clashes in recent years, in what has been a poor division of late.
Also this weekend we saw Irish-American welterweight Danny O’Connor destroy Chris Gilbert in five rounds. Gilbert had been a late replacement for the injured Paulie Malignaggi.
Edwin Rodriguez continued his rise up the light-heavyweight rankings with a third round stoppage of previously undefeated Craig Baker in Boston. Andre Ward is the only man to defeat Rodriguez in his pro career.
In other news
Talks seem to be underway for a potential blockbuster of a fight between Carl Froch and the unbeaten beast Gennady Golovkin. Froch insists he will only be tempted to fight again if he feels motivated by a challenge. Would GGG in Wembley stadium in front of 80,000 fans tempt him? Let’s hope so.
The IBF have named Evegny Gradovich as there boxer of the year ahead of his clash with Lee Selby on Saturday night. As if the Welshman needed an added incentive ahead of that fight, with the IBF world featherweight title on the line.
Eddie Hearn has done it again. A monster show from the 02 in London this Saturday night which includes stars such as Kevin Mitchell, Anthony Joshua and Lee Selby. All serving as a treat to the main event for the IBF world welterweight strap between Kell Brook and former Irish Champion Frankie Gavin. An unbelievable night of boxing not to be missed.
It has been announced that George Groves next opponent will be WBC super middleweight champion Badou Jack. Jack will put his title on the line that he recently won against Anthony Dirrell in what will be a very tough fight for Groves.