James DeGale’s IBF Super Middleweight Title Win Over Andre Dirrell Makes History

BOSTON — James DeGale won the IBF super middleweight championship with a unanimous decision over Andre Dirrell on Saturday at Agganis Arena after starting strong, then hanging on for the belt.

“I am speechless,” DeGale said, via fight promoters. “My whole career, what I’ve been building up to is winning a world title, and I have finally done it. It’s an unbelievable feeling, I have made history. I am the first British Olympic gold medalist to become a world champion.”

The fight appeared all but over after Round 2, when DeGale brought the crowd to its feet with two powerful punches that produced knockdowns. [tweet https://twitter.com/premierboxing/status/602216356965036033 align=”center”]

Dirrell, a 2004 Olympic bronze medalist for the U.S., was saved by the bell, but he also took a few more powerful punches from DeGale in the third round.

In an unforeseen turn of events, though, DeGale appeared to run out of gas in the middle and later rounds. Dirrell took full advantage in what became a tremendous comeback attempt. He went on the offensive early in each of the remaining six rounds, and forced DeGale into the ropes and corner multiple times.

To DeGale’s credit, he was able to withstand some powerful jabs and quick combos from Dirrell with an excellent defensive effort. It was a true testament of the Englishman’s strength and stamina.

Dirrell finished with a 488-400 advantage in punches thrown, but DeGale bested him 115-111 on punches landed. One real advantage for DeGale was an 83-65 lead in power punches connected. Many of those came in the first three rounds, which were crucial in DeGale winning by unanimous decision.

The three judges had DeGale winning 29-26, 30-25, 29-26 through three rounds, and that early lead helped him stave off Dirrell, who won five of the final six rounds 10-9 on two of the three judges’ scorecards. Dirrell might have been able to earn a draw if he had won the final round because two judges scored the fight 114-112, with DeGale winning Round 12 10-9 on both cards.

It’s unknown who and where DeGale will fight next, but he’s certainly ready for all challengers, now boasting a 21-1 record.

“I am back now and injury free. I will take on any super middleweight in the world,” DeGale said. “There is no other super middleweight in the world who will beat me.

“I am hard to beat when I am at my best. Let’s not forget, Dirrell (who’s now 24-2) is a very good opponent. Very talented and hard to beat. I am super fit, feeling good, and I am ready. I am IBF world champion.”

Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@NBCSN

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