U.K. super middleweight star James “Chunky” DeGale 22-1 14KO’s retained his IBF belt in an elite level performance over Lucian Bute 32-3 25KO’s. DeGale proved that he is the belt-holder at 168 to be reckoned with as he turned in a performance that should have put the other alphabet organization titleholders on notice.
As expected, the Canadian fans brought a raucous crowd to the event held in Quebec as they cheered for Bute from start to finish. DeGale came out during the opening round with intentions of setting a fast pace in hopes of tiring the older and perceived faded Bute. To the surprise of nearly everyone Bute was not faded. Firing awkward combinations and using top shelf in and out movement DeGale won the fight as much with his footwork as with his high volume punch output.
During the fourth and fifth rounds Bute landed hard body shots that slowed down DeGale, following up with hard shots and combinations Bute flashed that crisp punching that helped him retain the IBF title that DeGale now owns for nine successful defenses.
Referee Marlon B. Wright, who is best known for helping Lucian Bute escape a knockout loss to Librado Andrade in 2008 in a controversial no knockdown and subsequent long count; was a non-factor in the bout only warning for elbow use by DeGale and Bute when both fighters were using the subtle check elbows to create space.
The latter rounds of the fight saw the young British champion pick up his pace and fire combinations from the most awkward angles and dart out then back in when Bute was no longer set. Bute would have his moments and land shots even appearing to hurt DeGale again in the tenth round with a body shot but it was too little to earn him the nod.
DeGale takes his IBF title back home to Great Britain on scores of 116-112, and 117-111 twice. The win for DeGale sets up a potential unification fight with WBC champion Badou Jack, who recently defeated English darling George Groves in a close contest last May. With both fighters involved with boxing figure-head Al Haymon the matchup should be easy to make. A home-coming to the UK coupled with the unification would be a huge event and surely would sell more tickets in the UK than it would in the US.
The co-main event saw Eleider Alvarez 19-0 10KO’s win a majority decision over Isaac Chilemba in an eliminator match for the WBC number one contender spot and the right to become champion Adonis Stevenson’s mandatory challenger.
Alvarez won the early rounds on activity as he landed looping shots and worked on the inside of Chilemba. As the fight wore on fatigue set in and allowed Chilemba to take control down the stretch as the two went back and forth in a close fight that was tough to score and could have gone either way.
Alvarez won a majority decision on scores of 114-114, 110-118, and 113-115 in a fight that was close or could have gone either way. The scorecard of 110-118 was atrocious.