By John J. Raspanti
The two best fighters in the super middleweight division put on a show last night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. When it was all said and done, knocking it each other down and battling tooth and nail for 12 rounds, IBF champion James DeGale and WBC titleholder Badou Jack had fought to a rollercoaster majority draw.
The scores were 114-112 DeGale, and 113-113 twice. Jack’s knockdown in the final round saved him from losing a decision to DeGale.
The decision might have annoyed some, but it shouldn’t have.
It felt right.
DeGale (23-1-1, 14 KOs) did well in the opening stanza. He popped flashy combinations and kept the onrushing Jack at bay. Near the end of the round, a quick left deposited Jack on the seat of his pants. Jack got up quickly, more surprised than hurt, but the stumble put him behind by a few points in the fight.
Jack (20-1-3, 12 KOs) rallied in Round three, catching his shifty opponent with hard shots to the body. DeGale was the busier man, but Jack wasn’t going anywhere. Jack’s bodywork paid dividends in Rounds five and six. He forced DeGale into the ropes and unloaded.
DeGale mounted a rally of his own in Round seven, but found himself on the ropes and being pummeled in Round eight.
With three rounds left in the contest, fatigue set in for both champions. DeGale, with puffy eyes and a bloody nose, couldn’t move as he had earlier in the match. Jack had lost a step, but neither had lost the will to win.
They traded punches in Rounds 10 and 11. Jack’s seemed harder, while DeGale’s were more constant.
DeGale was doing pretty well in the last round until Jack caught him with a perfectly-timed right hand.
The blow sent DeGale crashing to the canvas. Jack tried to finish the wobbly DeGale, but the gutsy Brit wasn’t about to let that happen. He battled back in the last seconds of the round, strafing Jack with hard punches to the chin.
Not surprisingly, both fighters thought they had done enough to deserve the decision.
“I thought I won the fight,” said Jack. “I finished stronger,”
DeGale countered a few seconds later, “I thought I won,” he said. ”I landed the cleaner shots.”
There were no losers last night.