This week’s fight from the vault comes in the form of James DeGale vs Andre Dirrell, which took place 8 years ago this week, on May 23, 2015, in Boston, Massachusetts. It was a highly anticipated bout in the super-middleweight division, with both fighters competing for the vacant IBF super-middleweight title.
James DeGale entered the fight with a professional record of 20 wins, 1 loss, and 14 knockouts. Andre Dirrell recorded 24 wins, 1 loss, and 16 knockouts. Both fighters were accomplished amateurs before turning professional, with DeGale winning a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Dirrell representing the United States in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
James DeGale vs Andre Dirrell
The fight itself was a closely contested battle. DeGale showed his technical skills and athleticism, employing a varied and effective combination of punches. The Englishman started extremely fast, putting Dirrell down twice in the 2nd. Dirrell, on the other hand, after recovering from the early onslaught, relied on his speed and counterpunching abilities to keep DeGale at bay, to win the majority of the mid and late rounds. With many onlookers having it level at the start of the 11th, DeGale dug out the victory, coming back to win the last two.
James DeGale emerged as the winner by a unanimous decision. The judges’ scores were 114-112, 117-109, and 114-112, all in favor of DeGale. With this victory, DeGale became the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a world title in professional boxing (with Lennox Lewis representing Canada at the games)
The fight between DeGale and Dirrell was significant not only for the IBF super-middleweight title but also for establishing DeGale as a force in the division. It showcased his skill set and determination, solidifying his reputation as one of the top super-middleweight boxers at that time. DeGale went on to make multiple defenses of his title and was somewhat unlucky not to get the nod, in his Split Draw against Badou Jack in a title unification in 2017.
DeGale can be added to the long list of extremely successful Super Middleweights from Britain this century, putting himself alongside Carl Froch, Joe Calzaghe, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, and of course his former rival George Groves. All of whom won world titles at the weight.