By Francis Walker, BASN (first presented January 16, 2017)
BROOKLYN — The highly anticipated WBC/IBF super middleweight championship unification bout between James DeGale (23-1-1, 14 KOs)and Badu Jack (20-1-3, 12 KOs) in front of 10,128 fans at the Barclays Center last Saturday ended in a split draw after twelve exciting rounds that saw each fighter taste the canvas.
“He was doing a lot of running,” Jack said afterward. “[DeGale] was throwing a lot of shit at my guard. I thought I won the fight. I finished stronger. His knockdown was a flash knockdown. I won the fight.”
Jack, making the third defense of the WBC 168-pound title, tasted the canvas at the end of the first round after absorbing a soft shot to the face. It appeared as though Jack was fading badly, as DeGale assumed control of the fight.
“I was never hurt on the knockdown,” said Jack, making the third defense of his IBF title. “My feet got tangled a little bit but I need to watch it again.”
DeGale’s slick movement and counterpunching proved to be more effective. It appeared as though DeGale has a solid control of the fight, but to Jack’s credit, he left everything in the ring. Jack continued to throw punches and respond to DeGale’s effectiveness.
Suddenly in the second half of the fight, DeGale noticeably began to tire. DeGale, on several occasions, spit out his mouth piece, which is a sign of a badly fatigued boxer.
DeGale’s sizable lead was suddenly shrinking. Jack became the more solid puncher of the two, as a fatigued DeGale, who couldn’t keep his protective piece in his mouth, had teeth knocked out.
“I had him before the knockdown even happened,” Jack said. “I knocked his tooth out. He couldn’t keep his mouthpiece in after that.”
Jack had to dig deep within himself to gain more momentum, as he nearly knocked DeGale out in the final round.
“I had to dig down deep and try to knock him out and finish strong,” Jack said. “I definitely finished strong. If it wasn’t for the flash knockdown, it’s a different result.”
The judges scored the bout -114-112 (DeGale), 113-113, and 113-113 even.
“I’ve got huge respect for this man, but I thought I won that, DeGale said. “I landed the cleanest shots. He hit me (in the 12th), but I was more off balance. I respect him. He’s a good, round fighter. Let’s go again.”
According to DeGale’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, it was DeGale’s third consecutive fight away from his native England.
“It was a very, very tough fight,” Hearn said. “James got a little weak after the fifth and sixth rounds. He let Jack into the fight. It was very exciting. Broken nose and broken teeth.”
Hearn also believes that DeGale’s fatigue can be attributed to the fact that he has fought his last four fights outside of Britain – three in the U.S. and one in Canada. Hearn didn’t offer DeGale’s making the 168-pound limit as an excuse for such a sluggish performance.
“He makes the [168-pound] weight comfortably,” Hearn said. [James] made the weight comfortably for this fight as well.”
While DeGale made the 168-pound limit ‘comfortably,’ the same cannot be said of Jack. Don’t expect him to defend the super middleweight title anytime soon. Jack said he plans on moving up to 175, the light-heavyweight division.
“Badou Jack has got too big for 168 pounds,” said Floyd Mayweather, Jack’s promoter. “We had plans after this fight to move up to light heavyweight. This is the second time in a row Badou has gotten a bad decision. James DeGale is a hell of a fighter, but tonight he didn’t win. At the end of the day, I don’t know what the judges are looking at.”