By James Slater – Tonight in Liverpool, 2008 Olympic gold medallist James DeGale won the biggest fight of his now nine-fight pro career, as he stopped defending British super-middleweight champ Paul Smith in the 9th-round. Despite giving away lots of experience and going against the advice of some good judges who felt tonight’s fight was too much too soon, “Chunky” was in command pretty much all the way before the stoppage that came at two minutes and 8-seconds of the 9th.
DeGale is now 9-0(7). Smith, in being stopped for the first time in his pro career, is now 29-2(15).
Southpaw DeGale came out fast and he got home with some crisp left hands to the head in the opening round. Much faster than the hugely popular Liverpool warrior, the gifted 24-year-old was also more versatile.
Smith, the older man by four years, enjoyed a good 3rd-round, but he picked up a bad cut by way of an accidental head clash in the 4th. At times in the fight Smith pressured DeGale on the ropes, but “Chunky” was never close to being overwhelmed.
By the 7th, DeGale was in total charge, teeing off on Smith with both hands. The possible star of the future really was picking his shots well and already the end was in sight. Smith was hanging tough but he was beginning to take heavy shots.
The 8th saw DeGale rock Smith’s head back with a right uppercut that came in the middle of a fast combination. Smith took the punches well, doing well not to fall. But the end did come in the 9th, as DeGale went to work in style.
Hurt earlier in the round, Smith was finally stopped with just over two minutes gone in the round. Another classy burst had Smith in bad shape and a final hard left hand to the head prompted referee Howard Foster to dive in. Smith protested, and his vocal fans booed, but the call was a good one.
All in all a very impressive win by DeGale; one that may have experts suggesting he can go much further. Before tonight DeGale had never gone past the 5th-round, yet he looked at the time of the stoppage that he had easily enough gas to be able to go much further. As with any young fighter, there are still question marks about DeGale, his chin still being relatively untested, but so far he really does look like a future world champion.
Smith was utterly convinced he would have too much for DeGale tonight, as were a number of good judges. Instead, the man who collected gold in Beijing picked up his first real pro title.
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