WBC Siler super middleweight champion James DeGale (18-1, 12 KO’s) stayed in line for a world title shot against WBC 168 lb champion Sakio Bika by defeated Gevorg Khatchikian (20-1, 8 KO’s) by an 11th round TKO last Saturday night at the City Academy Sports Centre, Bristol, Avon, United Kingdom.
DeGale knocked Khatchikian down a couple of times in the 11th round with body shots. Referee Mark Green then decided that Khatchikian had taken enough punishment so he stopped the bout at 2:58 of the round.
DeGale boxed beautifully through most of the fight. However, his habit of keeping his hands down by his sides led to DeGale getting nailed with a lot of hard right hands from Khatchikian. In the 5th round, DeGale got caught with a tremendous right hand from Khatchikian. DeGale backed up like he was hurt, and he took punishment for the remainder of the round.
Khatchikian was able to get to DeGale with some nice shots in the last part of the fight. But DeGale upped the pace in the 10th round and was battering Khatchikian at will with shots. The fight probably should have been stopped in that round because Khatchikian was tired and beaten by then.
This fight was technically a tune-up fight for DeGale, because Khatchikian was clearly not a world class opponent despite the glossy 20-0 record that he came into the fight with. The two fighters were world’s apart in terms of talent. However, DeGale’s failure to get Khatchikian out of their early led to him taking a lot of hard right hands from him during the course of the bout. Like in all fights, if you leave a guy out there long enough he’s going to connect with some big shots, and Khatchikian definitely landed some really hard right hands to the head of DeGale.
You could see the affects of Khatchikian’s power shots when looking at DeGale’s face after the fight. Both eyes were swollen and reddened. The side of DeGale’s right was a painful looking red. DeGale wasn’t supposed to come out of this fight looking like this, because this was a dreadful mismatch on paper and it should have been an easy fight for him.
DeGale could be facing WBC champion Sakio Bika next. Badou Jack, who the WBC wanted DeGale to fight in an eliminator bout, was destroyed this past weekend in a 1st round stoppage loss to Derek Edwards, so he’s out of the picture for DeGale. If the WBC will be letting DeGale fight Bika next, then DeGale is going to need to fight a lot better than he did against Khatchikian for him to beat Bika.