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Weekend Boxing Review: DeGale draws with Jack; Davis breaks out

By Steven Donnell

Well, what a way to kick off the year. We were promised a big night by Floyd Mayweather and Eddie Hearn and we weren’t disappointed.

In the main event, Badou Jack took on James DeGale for the IBF and WBC super-middleweight titles. In my preview I had picked DeGale, saying he would have to much skill for Jack, and as the fight started that’s how it looked like it would turn out. DeGale started quickly and was moving well in the opening round against a cautious looking Jack. Going into the last 30 seconds of the round DeGale sent Jack to the ground with a well-timed overhand left which caught Jack offguard. Even though Jack was up quickly and didn’t look hurt, it was a wake-up call that he was going to have to slow DeGale down.

Regaining his composure in the second round, Jack then started to turn the screw by the third, landing some nice body shots which would pay back in dividends towards the end of the bout. Going into the middle rounds it was Jack who was really establishing himself and his body shots landing with great power and accuracy which was noticeably  taking the wind out of DeGale. When DeGale was landing, most of his work seemed to be coming off Jack’s gloves and arms. DeGale seemed to be taking a lot of shots flush which was snapping his head back whilst only landing tapping jabs in return.

Before this fight I had said I think that DeGale could get to Jack on the inside but it was Jack who looked the better and landing big shots on the inside. In round nine, DeGale had to try and stop this onslaught from Jack and DeGale did show his class with a big round but although he was landing more, the quality of Jack’s work was far superior. This late rally from DeGale set us up  for a nail biting finish, even though Jack had dominated most of the fight, that knockdown in the first round could prove to be the difference on the cards.

As both came out their respective corners for the final session it was clear that DeGale was a spent force. His face was in a hell of a mess and his legs looked heavy – in contrast Jack, as ever, showed no signs of slowing. After trading some early blows you could see that Jack had lost respect for any power DeGale had and was ready to lay it on him. Jack’s hard work paid off, sending DeGale to the canvas and as DeGale got up you could see he needed the bell. James had nothing left to give and was in survival mode as the relentless Jack went looking for the KO. The end bell came with both going toe-to-toe in the middle of the ring and what a fight this was from start to finish.

For me there was only one winner. The tempo, quality and accuracy of Jack’s work was far better than DeGale’s and when the judges scored it a majority draw I couldn’t help but feel for Badou Jack.

It was a close fight but for me Jack was the clear winner

As a starter before the main course we had Jose Pedraza vs. Gervonta Davis for the IBF  super-featherweight title, in a fight I had been intrigued by as it was my first time seeing Davis after hearing he was a top prospect. Against Pedraza he was testing himself at a whole new level – refreshing for a lad of just 22.

Right from round one Davis looked to settle quickly, also sending a warning shot to Pedraza with a beautiful uppercut, thrown as a clear intention that he had came to win the fight. As the early rounds went by anytime Pedraza tried to get his jab working he would be caught by Davis, backing him up, Pedraza just couldn’t read these awkward shots from Gervonta.

It looked as if Pedraza was trying to let Davis gas himself out -which for me was crazy- letting the youngster build up an early lead, whilst landing some big shots of his own. By round four Davis was still unloading and obviously trying to finish this one early but by now Pedraza was having his success landing on Davis’ body while also posturing at every opportunity, trying to get under Davis skin.

At the halfway mark it looked as if Pedraza had sussed out that he could get to Davis on the inside and even had some success there. But it didn’t take the talented youngster long to work things out and he really shook Pedraza up with a beautiful left hook to the body, followed another to the head, and by now Pedraza must have known this was slipping away. The victory came for Davis in the seventh round. By this point there was very little coming back from Pedraza.

Davis was ruthless with his bodyshots then switching to the head with unbelievable accuracy and it all eventually became too much as Davis sent Pedraza to the canvas, through the ropes and although he made it to his feet the ref has seen enough. What a performance from this lad and what a way to announce yourself to the world. On this evidence there is plenty to come from Gervonta Davis and I can’t wait to see him in action again.

Listen to top analysis of the card in this week’s Boxing Asylum podcast

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Image Credit: Boxingsphere (via YouTube)

ByBoxingAsylum

Preview and Prediction: James DeGale vs. Badou Jack

By Steven Donnell

Asylum writer Steven is looking forward to the big unification clash next weekend

Well folks it’s nearly time to kick off a great start to 2017 with a mouthwatering unification fight between IBF super-middleweight champion James DeGale and WBC champion Badou Jack, in Brooklyn.

For me, James DeGale is the most underrated boxer in the UK today. Not only  did DeGale pick up his IBF title up on the road against Andre Dirrell but this will also be his third time defending it away from home, following tough tests against Lucian Bute and ‘Porky’ Medina. On his day, DeGale is brilliant to watch. There are few that can switch from southpaw to orthodox as naturally as he can and these switches open up angles for DeGale to land his lightening quick combinations, and, when it comes off, it really is a joy to watch. DeGale lacks power but after sending Dirrell to the canvas twice, he did prove that his timing can make up for that. However, on DeGale’s last outing against Medina he had a howler for his high standards. Medina’s high volume punching and constant pressure seemed to throw DeGale, resulting in him eating some big shots and spending most of the night fighting off the ropes, as well as long periods covering and tying up. Although his skills got him the victory on the cards, it was far too close for comfort.

Press Conference: The pair faced off in a recent presser

Badou Jack has a totally different style to DeGale. Jack is really one of those guys with limited ability but what he can do, he does very well. When Jack fought Groves, he bossed Groves from start to finish also sending Groves to the canvas in a stand out performance from the Swede. His judgement of distance really was superb in that fight; he completely nullified Groves’ attacks before he could get inside (to expose what I suspect is his Achilles heel). It really was a great performance against a George Groves that had given James DeGale his only loss to date. In Jack’s last fight against Lucian Bute, he was dragged into a fight that I didn’t think he had in him. Bute came for a war (as he did with DeGale) but in fairness to Jack, he stood up and a showed heart and grit that I’ve never seen from him before in a very entertaining  fight that finished a fair draw .

Prediction

For this fight I just can’t see past James DeGale

I have a feeling Jack might just be tailor-made for him. I think the way DeGale works his way inside will see him take this fight on the cards if not by a late stoppage. DeGale does have flaws that Jack has to exploit and Jack can’t let DeGale dictate the pace at which he fights. One big criticism of DeGale is he takes too much time off during the fight and as Medina showed, he can be got-at and put off his stride. This should be a good, intriguing fight.

Follow Steven on Twitter @Dinobhoy86   @DJayboxingblog

Steven also ran the rule over Joseph Parker in his fight with Andy Ruiz Jnr in a recent piece.

Image Credit: Boxingsphere (via YouTube)