DeGale and Jack battle to draw

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. degalejackposterThe 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 jackdegalecardtrouble 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.

Boxing Preview; De-Gale-Jack, Nasio-Fujimoto

This weekends boxing action is headlined by the huge super middleweight unification fight out of New York with IBF titlist James DeGale unifying with WBC titlist Beau Jack with an IBF junior lightweight title fight on the undercard. Also featuring this weekend is Cuban star Erislandy Lara defending his WBA junior middlweight title against former Miguel Cotto victim Yuri Foreman. There is no action domestically but Australian heavyweight champion travels to Japan to take on former K-1 star and now full-time boxer Kyotaro Fujimoto for the vacant OPBF heavyweight title.

James DeGale vs Badou Jack
Vacant Ring Magazine world championship, WBC/IBF world titles
New York, USA
Television- Fox Sports 5, 1.30pm Sunday 15 Jan
Australian fight fans are being treated to a lot of Showtime fights free to air on Fox Sports. It’s expected to continue with the huge welterweight showdown between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia later this year as well as the Carl Frampton vs Leo degalejackposterSanta Cruz rematch but first up is the entirely under-hyped super middleweight unification bout between WBC titlist Badou Jack and IBF titlist James DeGale.

DeGale (23-1, 14 KO) took the vacant IBF title by defeating Andre Dirrell in 2015 following Carl Froch’s retirement. He has since defended it twice with a clear cut decision wins over former champion Lucian Bute and Italy’s Rogelio Medina. DeGale’s sole career loss was via razor thin decision to George Groves back in May 2011. Groves and DeGale were amateur rivals with Groves defeating DeGale in the unpaid ranks before DeGale went on to win the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. Groves win over DeGale for the Commonwealth title in 2011 was a huge upset and a huge fight for British boxing but DeGale has bounced back well while Groves’ career has slid following his losses to Carl Froch in 2014.

Badou Jack (20-1-2, 13 KO) took the WBC title from Anthony Dirrell, who defeated Sakio Bika for the WBC title and was making his first defence of the title. Jack showed he was one of the top super middleweight’s in the world in his next fight with a majority decision win over George Groves on the Mayweather-Berto undercard and was unlucky not to get the decision over Lucian Bute in a fight that he clearly won (Bute later tested positive for banned substances). Jack’s only loss was in 2014, a surprise first round knockout against Derek Edwards, who has since lost his last three bouts.

DeGale should be the favourite but Jack has surprised people in his last three fights and a lot of people were expecting him to lose all three. This is a fight between two of the top three super middleweights in the world and Ring Magazine has put their vacant title on the line for the winner. WBO champ Gilberto Ramirez, in my opinion, is the top super middleweight in the world following his domination over Arthur Abraham, who had established himself as the best super middleweight behind Carl Froch with wins over Robedrt Stieglitz and Martin Murray. DeGale has the edge in speed for me and I think this will be the difference. I expect this one to go 12 rounds and Jack will likely make it close but DeGale should be able to control the fight with his hand and foot speed and take a close decision.

The undercard sees an IBF junior lightweight title fight between Jose Pedraza and Gervonta Davis. The title has gone to Pedraza after Rances Barthelemy moved up to lightweight and Pedraza is making his third defence. Davis, a 2012 national golden gloves champion, is taking a significant step up in class, competing in his first 12 round fight but has a thirsd round knockout over former title holder Cristobal Cruz on his record. A women’s world title fight between one of the best women’s boxers in the world Amanda Serrano and former WBC bantamweight champion Yazmin Rivas for the WBO junior featherweight title and a middleweight contest featuring Ukraine’s former world amateur champion Ievgen Khytrov make up the rest of the card.

Erislandy Lara vs Yuri Foreman
WBA junior middleweight title
A non televised fight on Australian TV, Lara is making a rather routine defence against Foreman, who hasn’t really done a whole lot since losing back to back fights against Miguel Cotto and Pawel Wolak in 2010 and 2011. Lara won’t pressure Foreman as much, which might give Foreman a chance as his losses were both against pressure fighters, but Lara is too slick and technical and should win a wide decision.

Kyotaro Fujimoto vs Wille Nasio
Vacant OPBF heavyweight title
Kyotaro Fujimoto (15-1, 8 KO) is a former K-1 fighter who was being built up as the next Japanese star after wins over Peter Aerts and Jerome Le Banner but after losses to Semmy Schilt and Gegard Mousasi in 2010 he switched to boxing. His one loss was to Solomon Haumono by knockout the last time he went for the OPBF title. He has since won the Japanese national title and has defeated middleweight boxer Nobuhiro Ishida on points (Ishida is a notoriously tough middleweight who was only stopped by Gennady Golovkin and has a first round knockout win over James Kirkland) and scored wins over Peter Okhello and Australia’s Nathan McKay.

Nasio (10-1, 9 KO) is coming off a fourth round stoppage over Hunter Sam and his only loss was to Tai Tuivasa in a one night tournament in the fourth fight of his pro career. He’s also defeated Nathan McKay, although his win was via first round knockout and Kyotaro went 8 rounds with McKay. Nasio should be the favourite in this fight, Kyotaro has trouble keeping strong guys at a distance and he doesn’t have huge power for a heavyweight. If Nasio takes his time and puts on steady pressure he should be able to break down Kyotaro the same way Haumono did and force a mid round stoppage.