by: Matthew N. Becher
What a better way to start off Memorial day weekend than with some boxing in the afternoon. Live from the Agganis Arena located on the campus of Boston University. This weeks installment was brought by Al Haymon’s PBC on NBC series, and has a major title on the line in the Main Event.
In the co-main former super middleweight contender and Worcester, Mass native, Edwin Rodriguez (26-1 17KO) will move up in weight, testing out the waters at light heavyweight against the undefeated Craig Baker (16-0 12KO).
In the main event, two Olympic medalists and stand out super middleweights. American Andre Dirrell (24-1 16KO) and Great Britain’s James DeGale (20-1 14KO) will look to stake their claim on the division and fulfill a dream of becoming a world champion. Up for grabs is the IBF super middleweight title.
Edwin Rodriguez (26-1 17KO) vs. Craig Baker (16-0 12KO) – Light Heavyweight
Rodriguez comes out testing Baker’s body and head equally. Rodriguez using good head movement and landing heavy shots.
The second round is more of the same, Rodriguez landing big to the body of Baker. Baker keeping on his ear muffs throwing very few punches. Rodriguez is way busier, while Baker not throwing any real punches of substance.
In the third, Baker comes out on fire. Baker throwing about eight straight punches. Rodriguez is able to fend off the attack and starts to pump out his jab. Baker starts to finally show life before Rodriguez starts landing heavy right hands. Baker does not throw any punches back, and even though he is not taking much punishment, the ref steps in and stops the fight in the third round.
TKO 2:22 Round 3 Rodriguez
Andre Dirrell (24-1 16KO) vs. James DeGale (20-1 14KO) – IBF Super Middleweight Championship
Both fighters run into the center of the ring and start pumping out their jabs, finding their distance and timing. Dirrell lands a good uppercut and sharp jabs. They are each smack talking as the bell rings to end round 1.
In the second, both fighters are trading big overhand lefts. Dirrell opens a cut over DeGales eye and becomes the more aggressive fighter, throwing very sharp, hard shots. DeGale is moving around the ring, while Dirrell just pivots his body, not chasing. Then Degale catches Dirrell with his hands down and 20 seconds left in the round, knocking down Dirrell to the canvas. DeGale attacks Dirrell as soon as he can and knocks him down again. Dirrell gets up at the eight count, and the bell rings, before DeGale could finish him off.
The tone of the fight changes from Dirrell being the aggressor to DeGale stalking. Dirrell tries switching to orthodox but cannot find any use for it.
DeGale comes out aggressive, landing combinations. Both fighters trade heavy shots in the middle of the ring. DeGale uses head movement and foot work to keep Dirrell shots off of him.
Dirrell tries bum rushing DeGale, but DeGale is able to smother attacks. Dirrell is now steadily bleeding from his nose and mouth. DeGale looks more comfortable in the ring. Dirrell seems to have lost his game plan and has no backup.
The second half of the fight starts and Dirrell attempts to throw two jabs followed by a big left, but DeGale thwarts the attack. Dirrell throwing more punches, but landing little. Dirrell finally lands a solid combination in the 8th, breaking DeGale’s defense…Dirrell also showing off his hand speed in the round, knowing that he needs these last four rounds to win. DeGale is on his bicycle for much of the last few rounds, hands are down and is looking tired.
Dirrell has definitely become the more busy and aggressive fighter. DeGale is throwing fewer and fewer punches. Dirrell waving in DeGale to engage in a fight, but DeGale keeps moving around the ring. In the beginning of the 10th DeGale starts to throw more punches but is doing his best to stay on the outside of Dirrells reach. Dirrell seems to have more energy. DeGale is possibly winded, taking many of the last rounds off.
As they head into the championship rounds, the fight is very close. Dirrell is more aggressive, bringing the fight to DeGale. DeGale is looking for that one big shot. Dirrell is looking to lure DeGale in. DeGale wants to counter instead of lead. Dirrell not throwing enough punches for someone that needs the final round to possibly win the title.
DeGale wins on all the judges scorecards and becomes the first British fighter to ever win an Olympic Gold Medal and a World Championship Title.
114-112, 117-109, 114-112 UD12 James DeGale