James DeGale staked his claim to be recognised as the best super middleweight on the planet with a thrilling points win over Lucian Bute last night. In an unexpectedly competitive fight, DeGale edged a rejuvenated Bute over 12 rounds in a Showtime/SKY televised ruck at the Videotron centre in Quebec City, Canada, to retain his IBF title. The British star was pretty much a clear winner in what was the defence of the title he won against Andre Dirrell earlier in the year. The champion prevailed with scorecards of 117-111 (twice) and 116-112, however, credit must be laid at the feet of local favourite Bute after a quality performance which puts him firmly back in the mix in a red-hot 168 lb division.
Both men fought at a frantic pace from the off, although it was the visitor who was landing the cleaner, more damaging punches – in particular a quality left uppercut which found a home all night long. The all-southpaw affair saw the Englishman land 211 of 710 punches (30%), whilst Bute was slightly less active having landed 140 of 521 shots (27%). DeGale eased through the first four rounds, but a resurgent Bute scalped many of the mid-rounds which also coincided with the champion being cut above the left eye due to an accidental headbutt. DeGale was impressive during the final third of the fight and landed a wicked array of punches from his unnatural orthodox stance, including a dynamite lead left hook, as well as the aforementioned uppercut, which both proved decisive over the distance.
Bute (32(25)-3) was always in the fight and will take many positives from the loss, with the performance suggesting he is getting back to the days which saw him pound-for-pound rated and top of the super middleweight tree. DeGale moves to 22(14)-1 with the win and there is a strong case for him being the pound-for-pound best fighter in a talent packed British scene after quality, successive wins over top draw contenders in Brandon Gonzalez, Marco Antonio Periban, Dirrell and now Bute. The Londoner wasted no time in calling out WBC counterpart Badou Jack who is fresh off a victory over his arch-rival and former conqueror George Groves. “I still have to work on things in the gym, but I’m peaking. I’m getting better. The next 3-4 years I will be at my best. April next year, let’s do it. Let’s unify the titles (with Jack),” DeGale told Showtime post-fight.
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