James DeGale Shows His Mettle In Dig-Deep Win Over European Champ Piotr Wilczewski

By James Slater -- 2008 Olympic gold medallist James “Chunky” DeGale wasn’t fighting on the top of the bill last night at The Echo Arena in Liverpool, but the former British and now new European super-middleweight champ’s great fight with tough Pole Piotr Wilczweski sure should have been the main event - so excellent was the action the two determined warriors put on in their spirited 12-rounder.

This is not to say that the main event of Nathan Cleverly-Tony Bellew was a bad fight, far from it; it’s just that the co-main event was that much better (in my opinion anyway).

DeGale, having his first fight back since losing his unbeaten record to bitter rival George Groves, had to dig deeper than ever before against the gutsy 33-year-old defending Euro champ. The desire and heart of both men saw to it that a superb battle took place. At times going toe-to-toe in a crowd-on-its-feet style inside war, both guys unloaded plenty of leather.

DeGale, the younger man by eight years, got up on his toes at times and pumped out his southpaw jab as he boxed stylishly. But the action soon resumed at close quarters.. Cut over his right eye, with the left side of his face swollen quite badly, DeGale sucked it up and came through the first genuine gut-check of his pro career. In doing so, and in such exciting style, “Chunky” will have won over new fans.

DeGale was caught flush a number of times, Wilczewski’s right hand to the jaw proving an effective weapon, and on occasion, whilst on the ropes especially, the younger man’s head was snapped back. But DeGale showed last night that he has got a good chin (even if Wilczewski, now 29-2(10) is no massive puncher) and he also displayed good stamina.

The official scoring of 115-113 twice and 114-114 may inspire some debate, and the man who lost his title via such a close score will surely want a rematch, but the right man won for me. Just.

DeGale, still only a relative novice of a pro at 11-1(8) proved he is a real fighter; a man who can go on to achieve much. But who will he fight next? An immediate rematch with Wilczewski, though it would be welcomed by the fans, looks doubtful. DeGale had one man on his mind ahead of last night’s win: George Groves. If Groves can come through his upcoming fight with (former DeGale victim) Paul Smith, and if promoter Frank Warren can seal the deal, a return of the fight that took place back in May could be an even bigger event the second time round.

On last night’s form, though he took more punches than ever before, I’d lean towards DeGale gaining revenge. But let’s see how Groves does against Smith before we start talking about a possible trilogy!

Article posted on 16.10.2011

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