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James DeGale beats Andre Dirrell to become world champion

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James DeGale shares his thoughts after becoming the new IBF super-middleweight champion

James DeGale defeated Andre Dirrell to become the first British Olympic boxing gold medallist to win a professional world title.

The British super-middleweight won the vacant IBF world championship by out-pointing Dirrell in Boston.

DeGale floored his American opponent twice in the second round and although Dirrell came back in the middle rounds, the Brit secured a unanimous decision by scores of 117-109, 114-112 and 114-112.

The wide decision from the Canadian judge was a surprise at the end of 12 gruelling rounds that saw both challengers take control, box on the front foot and counter in equal measures.

After the knockdowns Dirrell grew in confidence as the fight went on but in the end it was a sharp and positive start from the visitor that will ultimately etch his name in the history books.

It looked anything but a fairytale, though, with DeGale being cut in the second round with a vicious right. It did not though take him completely out of his stride and he soon took control.

He then went one better and put Dirrell on the floor, one of several left hooks leaving the American struggling to make the count and struggling to regain his balance. There was a second count after another hard shot hit home and Dirrell was bundled to the floor and maybe that double knockdown eventually gave him the win.

More from Degale V Dirrell

James DeGale celebrates after knocking down Andre Dirrell
Image: James DeGale knocked down Andre Dirrell in the second round

DeGale went for the finish in the following rounds, pushing forward in clinical but careful bursts, but even if it did not come, he was dominating. The trademark sliding-in shots kept Dirrell steering clear and the odd occasion he tried to reply, he was caught by the DeGale right counter.

It was the fifth round, though, that saw things change, the 'Resurrected' living up to his nickname, bullying back, his left landing cleanly on more than one occasion and DeGale seemingly happy to take a step back.

It led to an outburst from trainer Jim McDonnell in the corner and DeGale's straight right cut Dirrell's cheekbone, but that was the last hard shot he seemed to land.

I am speechless. All I have ever wanted to do was to win a world title and I have finally done it. It's an unbelievable feeling, I am world champ.
James DeGale

Dirrell then took charge and it was role reversal as DeGale was the one staying out of range, the momentum starting to shift. The eighth had the Boston crowd cheering him on for the first time and by the end of the ninth, Anthony Dirrell was calling his brother 'The New'. It did seem like DeGale was starting to fade.

But the championship rounds saw the 29-year-old DeGale get stronger, slowly and certainly crucially. Both swapped combinations yet all of a sudden DeGale was soaking them up and hitting back again, his punches harder and sharper.

It seemed as though the 12th round could decide the outcome of the fight and both came out strongly from the start, swapping shots, yet DeGale again came on strong and was slipping aside and then again, sliding in.

In the end it did not matter, because the boy from Harlesden won by two points on two cards and a massive eight on another and above all, it saw him win a world title and make British boxing history.

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