In an early contender for fight of the year, IBF super middleweight champion James De Gale and WBC super middleweight champion Beau Jack battled to a twelve round majority draw yesterday in New York.
DeGale started the faster of the two and scored with a hard lead left hand from the southpaw stance that dropped Jack in the opening round. Jack took the count and recovered well but was having trouble with the Englishman’s speed. The IBF champion continued his success in the 2nd round but Jack began to score with right hands to the body and head in the third round and the fight was very even through rounds three to five with all three rounds potentially going either way.
Jack , who was coming off a draw to Lucian Bute last year, had his first moments of dominance in the sixth round when he trapped DeGale along the ropes and scored with a flurry of punches. Later in the round he appeared to hurt DeGale with a body shot and despite a flurry from “Chunky” in the final 30 seconds it was Jack’s first dominant round of the fight. The 7th round was again hard to score with DeGale seeminly landing more punches but Jack scoring with the heavier blows.
Early in the eighth round Jack knocked DeGale’s mouthpiece out and before the referee had a chance to replace it, the Swedish born fighter began his best onslaught of the fight. Referee Arthur Mercante jnr had an excellent fight and his decision to hand the mouthpiece off to DeGale’s corner and instruct them to rinse it while the fight continued was probably the best handling of that situation I have ever seen. DeGale was in serious trouble during this round and had he received additional time to recover it could have given his promoter Floyd Mayweather jnr another thing to whine about after the fight (more on that later). There was word in a later round that DeGale lost some teeth during this round and that has since been confirmed.
Round nine was another close round with DeGale now landing the harder punches and Jack landing more punches although Jack was still landing hard blows himself as he again knocked DeGale’s mouthpiece out. DeGale took the tenth on my card as well as all three judges’ cards but the round was one of the better rounds of an excellent bout. Going into the championship rounds I had DeGale up 95-94. Round eleven was scored unanimously for DeGale although the round was very close and I’ve seen a number of different cards scoring the round for Jack.
The final round both fighters sensed they needed to win it to win the fight and fought accordingly. Halfway through the round Beau Jack evened up the knockdowns and dropped DeGale with a hard right hand. DeGale was clearly hurt with blood coming from his mouth and his face swelling up. Jack attempted to finish him and again knocked out the British fighter’s mouthpiece and landed hard shots right up until the final bell.
Judge Glenn Feldman’s 114-112 card in favour of James DeGale was overruled by judges Julie Lederman and and Steve Weisfeld who both scored the bout 113-113 allowing each man to retain their titles. This was a fantastic fight and despite neither man winning it, boxing fans were the winner as this fight topped off a card that will be hard to beat in terms of evenly matched fights and back and forth action. I scored the bout 114-112 for Jack but I wouldn’t tell a person who scored it 115-111 for DeGale that they were wrong because there were that many close rounds in this fight.
During the post fight interviews both men felt they won, both men had every right to say that they won. Beau Jack now 20-1-3 with 12 KO’s, didn’t say much except that he wants to fight at light heavyweight and he thought he won and would prefer a rematch there. DeGale’s promoter Eddie Hearn didn’t say anything. James DeGale, now 23-1-1 with 14 KO’s, stated that he landed the cleaner shots and was “picking his (Jack’s) head off” then Jack’s promoter Floyd Mayweather spoke. Mayweather thought Jack was ripped off for the second time in a row and there’s a lot of people who probably agree. Mayweather then stated that the judges ruined this fight, claimed that ONE judge scored a “unanimous decision” for Oscar De la Hoya in their 2007 bout which Mayweather won by split decision and that this was a bad night for boxing.
By a bad night for boxing Mayweather means it was a bad night for him. This was the exact kind of card boxing needed and especially considering it was in New York, a state that almost lost boxing as a sport because of crazy insurance premiums that the State Athletic Commission was forcing promoter’s to take out in order to host shows in the state, this was exactly the type of card boxing needed. Mayweather, despite what he thinks, isn’t boxing. Both times Mayweather got on the mic during this card he made a fool of himself (he swore unneccessarily on free to air TV while being interviewed after the Davis-Pedraza fight, way to bring the kids into boxing) and the only thing that was bad for boxing tonight was what came out of his mouth.
Undercard; Gervonta Davis wins IBF 130lb title, Immanuwel Aleem stops Khytrov
The undercard was sensational. Gervonta Davis looks like he could be a major player at junior lightweight with a dominating performance in his first 12 round bout over Puerto Rico’s IBF world titlist Jose Pedraza. Davis dominated the first four rounds, making Davis miss and exploding on him with counters. He appeared to slow down in rounds five and six but Pedraza’s only really good round was the sixth. Davis took over again quickly in the seventh and put Davis away after dropping him with a series of shots punctuated with a right hook from the southpaw stance.
Davis, now 17-0 with 16 KO’s, reminds me of Adrien Broner when he was at this weight and hopefully he keeps the same focus. While Pedraza, now 22-1 with 12 KO’s, probably had no business being a world titlist (he won a vacant title and hasn’t fought anyone inside the top 10) Davis looked good in dispatching him.
The other televised undercard was another war between undefeated prospects Immanuwel Aleem (16-0-1, 9 KO’s) and Ievgen Khytrov (14-0, 12 KO’s). Aleem boxed from the outside early but hurt Khytrov, a former world amateur champion in 2012 with a win over Olympic gold medalist and Japanese middleweight prospect Ryota Murata, with an overhand right midway through the round. Aleem then became right hand happy and threw pretty much just his overhand right for the rest of the round and seemingly punched himself out by the end of the stanza attempting to finish the Ukrainian.
Khytrov took the second on my card with his aggression. He cut the ring off well and threw a lot of punches on the inside although his defence was very leaky and he took his share of big punches in return. Aleem looked exhausted until he came to life late in the third and stunned Khytrov with a left hook. he then followed it with a beautiful double left hook and dropped Khytrov heavily. Referee Eddie Claudio administered the eight count, then took an inexplicable ten more seconds before he restarted the fight. Rather than using combinations, Aleem winged wild left hooks in an attempt to finish Khytrov and let him off the hook.
The Ukrainian’s corner went off between rounds at their man’s lack of defence and told him not to stay so tall and the advice was well received. Khytrov came back well in rounds four and five and seemed to have recovered and worked his way back into the fight as Aleem had slowed down again. Coming in lower and moving his head more, Khytrov made Aleem miss and went to work when he trapped him along the ropes and seemed to be on his way to a stoppage victory with Aleem tiring. The end came suddenly in round six.
Aleem used his jab better early in the sixth and kept Ievgen off him momentarily before Khytrov went to work. With Aleem defending along the ropes, he landed a right uppercut which backed Khytrov up. He missed with a right hand but then landed a huge corkscrew left hand followed by an overhand right and dropped Khytrov heavily. Khytrov beat the count but was clearly hurt and despite an additional seven seconds on top of the eight count, Aleem landed four consecutive right hands followed by two left hooks forcing the stoppage. There was a lot of hype behind Ievgen Khytrov so this is a huge win for Aleem, who wasn’t very well known before this fight.