IBF super middleweight champion James "Chunky" DeGale (22-1) and Lucian "Le Tombeur" Bute (32-3) went to war for 12 rounds Saturday night in Quebec, Canada. DeGale retained his title via unanimous decision, but it wasn't an easy victory.
BoxRec's Philippe St-Martin shared the scorecards:
The margin of victory seemed wide. This was a competitive fight from start to finish. Seeing DeGale win by six points on two of the three cards was peculiar.
The final numbers from SHO Stats were in favor of DeGale, but they suggested a closer fight than the judges scored:
There's no question that the champion came out fast and earned the early rounds with his activity and movement. He switched back and forth between orthodox and southpaw.
His alternating stances seemed to create problems for Bute. DeGale peppered him with body shots and short uppercuts.
Bute took the shots well and reciprocated with his own body attack. Known for his signature left hook to the body, Bute's punch whacked away at DeGale's midsection regularly.
The shots appeared to hurt DeGale on a couple of occasions, but none was enough to put the champion in peril. At about the midway point of the fight, DeGale's punch output seemed to diminish.
A headbutt opened a cut over his left eye, and he ate a steady diet of body shots. The lapse in energy forced him to fight in spurts rather than at the breakneck pace he had set in the first three rounds.
By utilizing his superior movement, DeGale was able to buy time and energy. When he had mustered enough stamina to step back into the fray, he won most of the exchanges.
The final round punctuated the fight appropriately. Both men took their shots at trying to end the bout—or at least make one final statement to the judges.
ESPN.com's Dan Rafael spoke colorfully about the final frame:
St-Martin also complimented the two fighters' efforts:
At 35 years old, Bute looked spry and energetic to close the bout. The 29-year-old DeGale was winded, but he had been the more active puncher and mover.
During the post-fight interview, DeGale was complimentary of Bute, but he wasted no time calling out his next opponent, per Rafael:
WBC champion Badou Jack is a rugged competitor who also loves going to the body. DeGale is the quicker fighter, but Jack has the type of style and presence that can wear an opponent down. That fight would be a barnburner, should it come to fruition.
Per Rafael, Bute was gracious in defeat:
He also let the fans know that he'll fight again. Coming into the bout, he had lost two of his last four fights—and he didn't look good in most of those fights. After this performance, he has reminded fans that he is still an elite 168-pound fighter.
We'll wait to see whom he steps into the ring with next.
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