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.
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.”
Undefeated 130-pound Floyd Mayweather protégé Gervonta Davis (17-0, 16 KOs) dethroned defending IBF Junior Lightweight World Champion Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12 KOs) with an impressive seventh round TKO (2:36) in the opening bout of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING.
Davis was supremely accurate from the opening bell, landing an astounding 48 percent of his power punches and 40 percent of his total shots. Davis won his first title at just 22 years of age, similar to his mentor Mayweather, who picked up his first belt in the same weight class when he was 21.
Pedraza was making the third defense of his belt, but didn’t come out with his traditional “Sniper” game plan of fighting at range and picking apart his opponent. Davis gained confidence as he connected on the inside, landing at an impressive clip and preventing his Puerto Rican opponent from landing with effective lateral and head movement.
The Baltimore native hurt Pedraza with a huge left hook to the body in the opening moments of the sixth round, forcing Pedraza to guard his right side while eating repeated combinations with no answer for the onslaught. Davis landed more than 50 percent of his power shots in the sixth and Pedraza never really recovered. He was floored in the seventh round by a big right hook, falling to the canvas for the first time in his career. Pedraza got up, but referee Ricky Gonzalez sensed Pedraza was defeated and immediately halted the contest.
“I’ve had experience, I was telling you all that and you didn’t believe it,” said Davis, who became the youngest reigning world titlist. “I did the hard work, and us coming out on top, it means a lot. Having a great boxer and promoter backing me feels great.
“In this camp, I studied ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd, not ‘Money.’ I learned to stay composed. He caught me with some good shots. I took it and I came back out. That’s how you show you’re a real dude.
“I felt that he was laying down. I caught him one time in the body and he backed up. My team told me to go back to the body. My team told me to stay under control and go back to the body.”
Said Mayweather: “For this training camp, I didn’t want to be around him. I didn’t want to talk to him. I wanted him to focus so he could go out and be right. Is this the future of boxing? Abso-f***-lutely.”
Pedraza admitted he made a fundamental error in fighting Davis’ game.
“The strategy was to fight him from a distance, but it didn’t work out that way,” Pedraza said. “In spurts I did do it, but in the end I was trying to give too much pressure and that didn’t work.
“There was a moment there when I adjusted to the game plan that I wanted, but I kept trying to fight with him and it didn’t work.
“It’s no excuse, but I was at 135 pounds and coming down to accept this fight maybe wasn’t the right move.”by