When James DeGale’s booming left hand sent Andre Dirrell to the canvas with 25 seconds remaining in the second round, followed 16 seconds later by a second knockdown, the Englishman established The Moment in Saturday’s 168-pound title bout.
The sequence proved to be the difference in the fight at Boston’s Agganis Arena, as the 10-7 round lifted DeGale to a win by unanimous decision over Dirrell. Judges Dan Fitzgerald and Howard Foster scored the bout 114-112, while judge Alan Davis had it 117-109.
“After dropping Dirrell, I knew I could hurt him and felt in a commanding position,” said DeGale, who already had blood streaming from beneath his right eye at the time of the knockdowns. “I knew 100 percent that I had a big round and it definitely set the pace of the fight. It made Dirrell wary of my left hand because he knew I carried dynamite.”
James DeGale (21-1, 14 KOs) outlanded Andre Dirrell 115-111 in total punches and 83-65 in power shots, his early effort forcing his American rival to fight with caution before recovering.
“He got me in that second round, and he knocked me down twice. That was totally my fault,” Dirrell said. “I didn’t have my right hand up high enough. I did see the replay of that. I had to find myself after the second. I had to find my legs again. In the third and the fourth round, they were still pretty heavy.”
Dirrell battled back in the second half of the fight and controlled much of the action in his attempt to overcome the two early knockdowns, but DeGale won the final round on two of the judges’ scorecards to secure the victory, making him the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a professional world title.
“I knew it was not going to be an easy fight,” said DeGale, who has now won 11 straight bouts since losing a majority decision to fellow countryman George Groves in May 2011. “I couldn't take any chances and had to be [on guard at] all times. I rate Dirrell as my toughest fight to date.”
For the full recap, including photos and videos, visit our Dirrell vs DeGale fight page.