Aftermath: Jack vs DeGale
The judges couldn't separate Badou Jack and James DeGale after their thrilling super middleweight unification match on Saturday night in Brooklyn. In the aftermath, Boxing Monthly had some burning questions we wanted answering. Haroon Ahmed, Callum Rudge, Andrew Harrison and Chris Williamson from our online team provided the answers ...
BM: Lots of debate about the scorecards. How did you see it?
HA: Firstly, what a fight! At 10am on Sunday morning I had still not slept! Unbelievable fight. That's what you get when two of the best get it on. Both boxers fought tremendously. Both didn't deserve to lose after putting on such a wonderful performance, but boxing doesn't work like that. I had Jack winning, due to the 12th round knockdown. I thought he landed the more accurate blows.
CR: Like two of the judges I scored it 113-113. I expected DeGale to get the decision as he had clearly outworked Jack but I really liked Jack's accuracy and felt he could've stopped DeGale if he'd composed himself in that 12th round. Overall though I agreed with the result.
AH: I scored it 114-114. A draw felt like the right verdict and the bout had a cool symmetry to it, with DeGale bundling Jack over in the opener, and Jack returning the favour in the last. Floyd Mayweather was a mile away when crying 'robbery' in the aftermath (despite claiming he knows more about boxing than anyone else).
CW: I scored 114-112 to DeGale, which surprised me when totalled. DeGale largely 'nicked' his rounds whereas 'The Ripper' dominated a number of the rounds he took, in particular the eighth.
BM: What has this fight done for both men's reputations?
HA: The fight will have only elevated both in terms of being recognised in world boxing. Being from the UK, we've heard a lot about DeGale. Jack, on the other hand, has always slipped under the radar. I'm sure fans will follow his progress a lot closer from now on.
CR: I think this fight has done more for Jack's reputation than DeGale's. Not many people expected Jack to win this fight so for him to get a draw (most people I saw online thought he won) shows that he was underestimated by most going into this. DeGale showed his toughness and proved that he's the number 1 or 2 at super middle. I think some may think the worse of DeGale because he didn't wash Jack. That would be unfair, Jack's a quality fighter.
AH: Both men's reputations will have grown from this. It's an encouraging result in that respect. Jack appears to be getting stronger with each fight - which is a huge boon when you hold centre ring and steadily walk opponents down. DeGale deserves huge props, also. That was his fourth fight on the road, and it can't be overstated how much of a disadvantage that is in boxing. A lot of fighters would have fallen apart in that final round. Yet, in the dying seconds, DeGale was swinging for the fences. It was a smashing fight.
CW: The stock of both men definitely increased on Saturday. It was a clinch-free, action-packed fight broadcast to a very wide audience. I'm excited to watch both men again. As far as DeGale is concerned, he showed mettle he never had to before and this showing will surely intensify the warmth which the British have shown 'Chunky' lately.
BM: Jack is talking about moving to 175. Thoughts on this, implications for a potential DeGale rematch and where would you like to see these two go next?
HA: I wasn't surprised to hear about Jack's decision to move up a weight class. He and promoter Floyd Mayweather planned to clean the division through unifying the belts but I guess Jack must find it difficult making weight. After hearing Floyd and Badou post-match, I doubt we will see a rematch. Then again, money talks and Floyd is the money man.
CR: I would love to see a rematch between these two but, when asked, Jack didn't seem delighted at the idea of making 168lbs again. While they could have a rematch at a catchweight, the fight isn't as big without the titles and lineage on the line. I think Jack moves on and looks for a fight with Adonis Stevenson and DeGale faces the winner of Callum Smith and Anthony Dirrell.
AH: Jack looks a different athlete to the man who fell apart against Derek Edwards three years ago. He rolled forward like a Panzer last night and appeared to be a full weight above DeGale. Ideally, they'd fight again in the UK. Light heavyweight is a shark pool right now and I don't see Jack being the Brody figure armed with a scuba tank. It would be shame for them to part ways. They could fight a trilogy based on last night and everyone would win (figuratively, if not literally).
CW: Jack didn't demonstrate many obvious signs of being tight at the weight and weighed in with almost a pound to spare. That said, it's unusual for a titlist to vacate a belt unnecessarily and it seems his mind is made up and plans are afoot at the higher weight. From a British perspective that's a shame because Jack vs WBC mandatory Callum Smith would be very, very intriguing. Still, light-heavyweight is in good shape and matches with top dogs Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev or Adonis Stevenson attractive. If they're unavailable then Joe Smith Jr would make a 'can't-miss' eliminator.
Liking the Jaws reference by the way, Andrew, especially since DeGale said before the fight that Jack "doesn't have any special effects"...
DeGale has plenty of business left at super middle, so after a good rest I'd like to see him face Callum Smith or Ramirez. However, with that pesky IBF mandatory due, expect him to fight Mexican based Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui first.
BM: How on earth did DeGale survive that twelfth round and do you think he should have been docked a point for his mouth guard coming out?
HA: DeGale was extremely impressive. I'm extremely surprised how he survived after such blows, especially after the knockdown in the 12th round. I thought he showed tremendous grit and determination against one of the best in the division. He'll take a lot of confidence from the fight going forward.
CR: DeGale spoke pre-fight about having a new nutritionist and while I usually roll my eyes at that sort of thing, DeGale was spending less time on the ropes last night and made the weight comfortably enough so he was clearly in great shape. I wasn't too angry about the mouth piece, yeah it was unfortunate but the ref did a good job of letting the fight carry on until a break naturally occurred. I think it was handled right.
AH: I thought [referee Arthur] Mercante [Jr] handled the mouthpiece issue admirably. He went over to read DeGale the riot act in his corner at the end of one of the middle rounds, until DeGale's trainer, Jim McDonnell, barked that his man had lost teeth, which was causing the problem. The officials were as impressive as I've seen for a long time and should be commended as such.
CW: Perhaps because Jack didn't watch Froch vs Taylor enough times?! No, seriously: guts, conditioning and survival instincts. DeGale is approaching veteran stage now and showed incredible durability and heart during those torrid eighth and twelfth rounds. Arthur Mercante was correct not to dock points given the circumstances, with James missing his front teeth. I don't believe it was a Diego Corrales vs Jose Luis Castillo I style 'time-buying' trick.
BM: Is Badou Jack one of the most underrated boxers on the business?
HA: Badou is highly underrated, but I believe his value will increase after this fight. He's been on the receiving end of a few poor decisions which has affected his record. He's come out of the fight as a true champion, and I respect him for that. I think he's overlooked largely due to the fact he's reserved in nature. You don't hear much trash-talking from him.
CR: Absolutely, I picked Jack pre-fight and was surprised at how some saw this fight going. While he's not a pound for pound fighter, he's got wins against Anthony Dirrell and George Groves and has draws vs Bute and DeGale and most people think he won both of those last two. If Jack wasn't tight at the weight he would've beaten DeGale and will eventually give Stevenson all he can handle.
AH: Jack seems to be improving with each fight and it's difficult to gauge a fighter who's on a steep upward trajectory. He won't be underrated after last night, that's for sure.
CW: He certainly was prior to this bout, with even the finest boxing magazine around ranking the Swede *ahem* number 5 in the division, behind DeGale, Ramirez, Callum Smith and Andre Dirrell. I expect Jack's resume and performances will now be considered strong enough for him to get the respect he merits.