The No. 1 and No. 2-ranked super middleweights in the world met in a unification to determine the world’s best 168-pound fighter Saturday on SHOWTIME. After two knockdowns and 12 intense, back-and-forth rounds, the distinction as the world’s best super middleweight is still up for grabs.
WBC champion Badou Jack (20-1-3, 12 KOs) and IBF titlist James DeGale (23-1-1, 14 KOs) fought to a 12-round majority draw in the main event of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING in front of 10,128 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The bout was scored 114-112 (DeGale) and 113-113 twice, and the only clear winner was the sport of boxing and its fans.
(Photo credit: Tom Casino/SHOWTIME)
Britain’s DeGale, making the third defense of his IBF belt, started the drama by flooring Jack with a jab with 30 seconds left in the first round. But it was back and forth from there in a highly skilled, closely contested battle between the consensus best in the weight class and in the eighth unification bout in division history.
Jack, making his third title defense, was more effective on the inside and more active, throwing 745 total punches vs. DeGale’s 617.
The pivotal moment in the fight occurred when Jack floored DeGale for the first time in his career with a left-right combo punch midway through the 12th and final round. Without the 10-8 round, DeGale would have won a unanimous decision.
“I thought I won the fight. I finished stronger,” Jack said. “His knockdown was a flash knockdown. I won the fight. He was doing a lot of running. He was throwing a lot of shit at my guard.
“Let’s do it again at light heavyweight. It’s time to move to light heavyweight.”
DeGale countered: “I’ve got huge respect for this man, but I thought I won that. I landed the cleanest shots. Let’s do it again. Let’s do it again in London.
“He hit me (in the 12th), but I was more off balance. I respect him. He’s a good, all-around fighter. Let’s go again.”
In an exciting matchup of undefeated middleweights that saw multiple knockdowns and swings of momentum, Immanuwel Aleem (17-0-1, 10 KOs) defeated previously unbeaten Ievgen Khytrov (14-1, 12 KOs) by sixth-round TKO.
Aleem struck first with a massive overhand right that staggered Khytrov and left him wide-eyed and susceptible to punishment. Aleem pushed forward and continued to land punches, but the Ukrainian was able to stay on his feet to survive the round and return to his corner.
Khytrov recovered brilliantly to win the second round on all three judges’ scorecards, including 10-8 in the eyes of one judge. The third round saw an early candidate for Round of the Year in which Aleem dropped Khytrov hard with a strong left hook that put Khytrov down for the first time in his career. Khytrov continued to show incredible resolve as he was able stay on his feet and blast Aleem with a late shot that nearly put Aleem out.
The back-and-forth continued with Khytrov seemingly beginning to take control of the bout until the sixth round when Aleem landed a series of overhand right hands that put Khytrov down again. Khytrov beat the count but Aleem continued to push forward and battered a defenseless Khytrov until referee Eddie Claudio halted the bout 1:20 into round six. Aleem landed 50 percent of his power punches in the bout that was scheduled for 10-rounds.
The opening bout of the telecast saw former title challenger Thomas Dulorme (24-2, 16 KOs) earn a sixth-round TKO victory over Brian Jones (13-7, 7 KOs) in their welterweight contest. In his first bout since signing with Mayweather Promotions, the Puerto Rican-fighter dominated and controlled the fight by landing 46 percent of his power punches.
Big overhand rights and uppercuts did most of the damage early for Dulorme as he staggered Jones in a dominant third round. Dulorme began to work the body shots in as he wore Jones down but missed low repeatedly in round five and had a point deducted from him by referee Shada Murdaugh. Dulorme was able to recover in the next round and used a strong flurry to force the referee to intervene and stop the fight at 1:49 of round six.