James DeGale retained his IBF super middleweight title on the road tonight in Quebec City, beating former titleholder Lucian Bute in a spirited, action-packed fight that closed out a huge Saturday in boxing.
DeGale won a unanimous decision on scores of 116-112, 117-111, and 117-111. BLH had it 116-112 for DeGale, who banked some early rounds against the older Bute, and was able to cut a pretty torrid pace over the course of the fight. His work to the body in particularly was vicious, and the fact that the 35-year-old Bute not only stood up to all of that but gave about as well as he got says a lot about where he's at in his career.
In fact, it could easily be argued, at least in my opinion, that Bute (32-3, 25 KO) has never fought near this well against a true top-tier opponent in the past. In 2012, he was trounced by Carl Froch. In 2014, he couldn't pull the trigger against Jean Pascal. Tonight, he got rushed early by DeGale (22-1, 14 KO), stood up to the pressure, and held his own over 12 rounds, staying competitive throughout in a fight that had no lulls and some really terrific, punishing rounds where both guys were landing good shots.
DeGale, 29, gave credit to Bute and said he expects the veteran to be back strong after this performance. It was a gutsy move for DeGale to go on the road to make a title defense against such a popular fighter, but he did so and comes away with the win. He says he'd like to unify with WBC titleholder Badou Jack in April, a fight that could conceivably be made without much trouble.
As for Bute, he says he's going to get back to the gym and fight on, believing this was a close fight, and giving credit to DeGale.
For our part, we give credit to both guys on what was a surprisingly exciting fight, the best of a weekend that has sort of turned boxing upside down in some respects.
How did you score the fight?