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Truax stuns DeGale in Homecoming


By Steven Bateson


Caleb Truax shocked the world as he outfought and outhustled James DeGale over twelve rounds to win the IBF Super Middlweight Championship at the Copper Box, London on Saturday night.


It was DeGale’s first fight in eleven months and perhaps ring rust played a part, perhaps the injuries sustained in that fight have not healed as well as hoped, and he was in big trouble in round five after absorbing a huge right hook and uppercut from the American but he managed to see it through, eating another two monstrous right hands before the bell, and hold off the challenger long enough to make it over the finish line.


The champion started brightly and even had Truax hurt with body and head assaults in round one as he bamboozled his foe with his switch hitting style. But Truax was in confident mood and marched forward, his pressure pushing DeGale backward and the Olympic gold medalist seemed happy to sit on the ropes, something he has been criticised for in the past, which allowed the challenger to gain a foothold in the contest.


It was there that Truax found his big breakthrough in round five and the huge power punches had DeGale’s legs wobbly whilst also bloodying his mouth badly, opening the wounds suffered back in January against Badou Jack, and for a moment it seemed like the huge upset was imminent. DeGale was forced to absorb more punishment but saw out the round, much to the chagrin of Truax but relief of the champion’s corner.


The next few rounds followed a similar pattern of Truax hunting DeGale down whilst the champion attempted to use his jab and get back to his boxing fundamentals. It was a case of what kind of style you may prefer and the bout was certainly in the balance heading down the home straight.


Truax may have been tiring slightly from round nine but the champion didn’t seem able to pick up the pace himself and the challenge seized control again in the tenth stanza, body blows and a relentless bombardment of punches in the corner certainly gave him the nod.


DeGale, roared on by his hometown crowd, came out firing in round eleven and seemed to sense the urgency of the situation, his title in the balance. He planted his feet and began to land heavy shots of his own and suddenly Truax looked a little more unsteady and battle worn


It seemed like the title was up for grabs heading into round twelve and it was DeGale throwing the more meaningful shots, finally standing his ground in centre ring for sustained periods and letting his hands go. Truax was still happy to oblige in a firefight but he was just being beaten to the punch and at the end of the fight there was certainly a difference in opinions on who had won.


DeGale has excellent boxing skills but he went to the ropes far too often and there was a distinct lack of confidence in his jab (a sign that his shoulder injury has not healed properly) Truax covered himself in complete glory in all departments and now he has huge opportunities ahead of him.


It was a very close fight and there will be those who believed DeGale won, himself included, but he did not box to the best of his ability and cannot have anyone to blame but himself. Perhaps he rushed back from his injury but this night belongs to Caleb Truax and nobody can take that away from him.


Scorecards read: 114-114, 115-112, 116-112


Selby retains. Warrington looms


Lee Selby defeated the previously undefeated Eduardo Ramirez via unanimous decision, retaining his IBF Featherweight Championship in the process. Ramirez, who missed weight and could not win the championship anyway, was game and marched forward from the first bell with the aim of detonating bombs but Selby was able to negotiate any danger and use his athleticism and footwork to maneuver around the ring whilst teeing off with eye catching combinations and punch variety. At times Ramirez did find success but not once did his power punches slow Selby up, a right hand in round one and then one five his best work, and the Welsh Wizard grew more and more comfortable as the bout progressed into the mid stage.


Selby was slipping shots and making his Mexican opponent look foolish at times, however question marks may also be asked about Selby’s punch power and how that will affect him against the calibre of opposition he is currently chasing. Ramirez was starting to look frustrated by his elusive target by round eight but Selby was also tiring and standing still a little too often, allowing Ramirez a more successful session on the scorecards.


Round nine passed without little note although Selby’s work was looking a little more ragged and Ramirez’ pressure arguably allowed him to steal another stanza but he wasn’t doing enough to change the perception that he was behind in the contest. Selby was back in control in round ten but then he was under siege in eleven from a constant barrage from Ramirez, a little too late for the Mexican having given up so much of the earlier rounds. Selby finally had his man hurt from body shots in the final round, rubber stamping his overall dominance and putting the icing on a decent albeit uninspiring performance.


It was far from a classic fight and although there were signs of the talent that Selby possesses he will need much more against the likes of Carl Frampton, Leo Santa Cruz etc. He is now mandated to defend against Josh Warrington sometime in the spring and though he skills may be superior he did noticeably slow up toward the end of the fight and that is something he cannot allow against an opponent that can fight bell to bell for twelve rounds.


Scorecards read: 118-110, 119-109, 116-112 (first two scorecards were a little wide)


Yarde takes out Sjekloca in four


Anthony Yarde made a statement with a fourth round stoppage of the tough veteran Nikola Sjekloca. Yarde started brightly with a fast jab and his explosive power punching but Sjekloca eased into the bout and was starting to find a home for his jab and right hand in round two. Sjekloca had Yarde on the ropes and was scoring shots when Yarde unloaded with a huge right hand to the jaw that dropped the Serbian for an eight. Sjekloca got to his feet and was rocked again by another right but managed to see out the round. In round three Sjekloca was back on his boxing and picking holes in the defense of Yarde, but each time Yarde landed it was obvious he was hurting his foe. In round four Yarde caught Sjekloca with a thunderous right hand as his foe reached in and from there the Serbian completely fell to pieces. Yarde punched his foe around the ring, dropping him again, and though Sjekloca rose again he was beat into submission until the referee was forced to make a mercy stoppage.


Sjecloca had never been stopped before, last time out was defeated on a split decision by Robert Stieglitz whilst also going the distance with Callum Smith, Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika and Tyron Zeuge, and has twice challenged for world titles but has primarily campaigned at super middleweight and not light heavy, saying that nothing should be taken from Yarde due to his excellent power punching display. There is still plenty of work to be done, Yarde still has never been past four rounds, but there are great signs that he is developing into a quality fighter and there will be some huge nights for him in 2018. He and his team will work on his defense after this, he was hit too easily tonight, but his strength and athleticism allow him to change any fight in his favour and though he has a very high ranking with the WBO he isnt ready for a world title shot yet so hopefully we’ll see him contesting the British Title sooner rather than later.


Dubois continues to impress


Daniel Dubois continued his explosive streak as he steamrolled Dorian Darch in two rounds of their heavyweight contest. Darch managed to last longer than most of Dubois’ opponents but only just, dropped inside the first three minutes by two heavy right hands to the side of the head. He beat the count but even the minute rest period between rounds wasn’t near enough to allow him to recoup, Dubois starting the second round with venom. A left hook dropped Darch early in the second stanza and although he got up it was obvious that he was in a whole world of trouble. Dubois kept his composure, amazing for just 20 years old, and then knocked his Welsh opponent down again with a trademark right hand. Darch is tough and showed that as he got to his feet but yet another right hand left him slumped in the ropes to end the contest. It is still early days for Dubois (now 6-0 with 6 KO’s) but for a young man he has terrific composure, skill and timing. He works excellently off the jab and in 2018 he needs to be stepped up in competition to show the world exactly what he is capable of. He is mandated to fight for the English Title against Nathan Gorman and that would be a terrific step up for Triple D.


Undercard round up


Lee Mullender captured the IBF Middlweight Title by stopping the very game Lee Churcher in eleven rounds. Wales’ Churcher started the fight brightly and won the first two rounds with impressive bodywork and uppercuts that just could not miss, Mullender demonstrating a complete lack of head movemennt. But Brentwood’s Mullender marched forward from start to finish, undeterred by anything thrown his way, and as early as the third round it was clear that Churcher was tiring from the effort involved. Mullender downed his man twice in round five, a solid right hand as Churcher slipped was responsible for the first and then a clipping right hand had him on the floor again but both times the Welshman was able to rise and continue the bout. Mullender was in the complete ascendancy now and it was obvious that Churcher was tiring dramatically but still the veteran continued to throw back whilst absorbing every shot that came his way, the right hand from Mullender was finding the target in a more frequent fashion. The referee scored a third knockdown in round eight, although it looked more like a slip, and at that point it was clear that Churcher would need a stoppage to register a victory in his favour, something that looked almost impossible given his drained gas tank and lack of punch power. If Churcher had carried power then Mullender would have been in trouble as he still could not avoid the uppercuts on the inside but the Welshman was merely surviving by the tenth round and was showing no sign of turning the tide. Churcher was cut in round eleven from a clash of heads and then moments later was floored by a left hook, prompting the referee to end the bruising contest. Mullender’s work was scrappy and although he was the aggressor he wasn’t impressive against a foe that was near out on his feet by the halfway point. The Essex man will need much more than a face first approach and toughness if he wants to fight at British level, he will encounter plenty of problems against a boxer if he does not learn to move his head.


Fans inside the Copper Box were treated to a ten round slugfest as Johnny Garton stopped France’s Mihail Orlov inside the distance of their IBF European Title bout. Both men went toe to toe from the outset, showing no respect for defense, but in the end Garton was able to grind his opponent down and halt him, adding the vacant Welterweight bauble to his ledger. Garton (now 21-1-1 with 7 KO’s) will likely be looking at English titles or further ahead in 2018.


Archie Sharp goes 11-0 (6 KO’s) with an eight round decision over the tough Rafael Castillo. Castillo has mixed in decent company with the likes of Zelfa Barrett and Reece Bellotti so this contest will have taught Sharp a great deal. The Welling Super Featherweight is in a very hotly contested domestic division so there could be some interesting bouts in the new year. Referee scored the bout: 80-71


Sanjeev Sahota improved his pro record to 10-0 (3 KO’s) with a six round decision over Slovakian journeyman Ivan Godor. Hornchurch’s Sahota is making his way up the British 140lbs rankings and may be contesting titles in the new year. Referee scored the fight: 60-54


Highly touted Flyweight Harvey Horn makes his professional debut with a third round stoppage over Denis Bartos of the Czech Republic. A left hook to the body dropped Bartos for an eight count and then a further Horn onslaught prompted the referee to intervene. Horn has many admirers and will be one to watch in 2018.


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