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.”
Amanda Serrano (31-1-1, 23 KOs) capitalized on the opportunity to fight in the first women’s world title fight on English-language national television in nearly a decade, with a dominating performance in victory. Serrano defended her WBO Junior Featherweight World Championship over former two-division world champion Yazmin Rivas (35-10-1, 10 KOs) via unanimous decision. The judges scored the bout 97-97, 98-92, 99-91.
Serrano was the busier fighter from the opening bell, and landed nearly the double amount of the punches as her opponent – 206 compared to 107 – while connecting on an impressive 41 percent of her power punches.
“We knew she was going to come to fight,” Serrano said. “She’s a Mexican fighter who’s very tough and experienced. I had to show her my power and my skills. I was glad to get 10-rounds in and I hope the fans enjoyed the fight.
“We wanted the knockout, but I was ready for 10-rounds. People who think I’m just a brawler saw that I’m a great boxer today. We picked a tough opponent because we wanted to showcase that I can beat good fighters and take a punch if I have to. I can do everything in the ring. We wanted the toughest fighter out there and she came to fight.
“It was a great night for women’s boxing and I hope it keeps getting bigger and bigger. We want the best. My goal is to drop to 118 pounds and win a title in my fifth division. I want to fight other champions. My goal is to be the first Puerto Rican to hold world titles in five weight classes.”
Rivas disagreed with the decision.
“It was an excellent fight. I followed all of the instructions from my corner and I believe that I won,” Rivas said. “I think the last round was very close, but I think I did well in all the rounds.
“I knew everything was against me and to win I had to knock her out. Unfortunately it didn’t happen today. I believe that after this fight, women will have more opportunities to show their skills on television.”
In an exciting matchup of undefeated middleweights that saw multiple knockdowns and swings of momentum, Immanuwel Aleem (17-0-1, 10 KOs) defeated previously unbeaten Ievgen Khytrov (14-1, 12 KOs) by sixth-round TKO.
Aleem struck first with a massive overhand right that staggered Khytrov and left him wide-eyed and susceptible to punishment. Aleem pushed forward and continued to land punches, but the Ukrainian was able to stay on his feet to survive the round and return to his corner.
Khytrov recovered brilliantly to win the second round on all three judges’ scorecards, including 10-8 in the eyes of one judge. The third round saw an early candidate for Round of the Year in which Aleem dropped Khytrov hard with a strong left hook that put Khytrov down for the first time in his career. Khytrov continued to show incredible resolve as he was able stay on his feet and blast Aleem with a late shot that nearly put Aleem out.
The back-and-forth continued with Khytrov seemingly beginning to take control of the bout until the sixth round when Aleem landed a series of overhand right hands that put Khytrov down again. Khytrov beat the count but Aleem continued to push forward and battered a defenseless Khytrov until referee Eddie Claudio halted the bout 1:20 into round six. Aleem landed 50 percent of his power punches in the bout that was scheduled for 10-rounds.
The opening bout of the telecast saw former title challenger Thomas Dulorme (24-2, 16 KOs) earn a sixth-round TKO victory over Brian Jones (13-7, 7 KOs) in their welterweight contest. In his first bout since signing with Mayweather Promotions, the Puerto Rican-fighter dominated and controlled the fight by landing 46 percent of his power punches.
Big overhand rights and uppercuts did most of the damage early for Dulorme as he staggered Jones in a dominant third round. Dulorme began to work the body shots in as he wore Jones down but missed low repeatedly in round five and had a point deducted from him by referee Shada Murdaugh. Dulorme was able to recover in the next round and used a strong flurry to force the referee to intervene and stop the fight at 1:49 of round six.