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DeGale vs. Dirrell: Britain’s Golden Boy to make history.

21 May | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
DeGale vs. Dirrell: Britain’s Golden Boy to make history.

James DeGale heads to Boston this weekend attempting to become Britain’s first ever World Champion with an Olympic Gold medal in a real 50/50 battle.

Never before has a British boxer won Gold at the Olympic Games and then gone on to win world honours in their professional career. The most recent British hopeful came in the form of recently retired Audley Harrison who won Gold in the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. Unfortunately, the Heavyweight wasn’t able to make the transition into pro-boxing, only ever getting one world title shot which ended in a KO loss to David Haye.

However, Boxers from other nations have shown that the feat is possible. Current world champions Guillermo Rigondeaux, Vasyl Lomachenko and Wladimir Klitscko all won Gold medals in the Olympics. British boxer and Beijing 2008 Gold medallist James DeGale will be hoping to make history on Saturday night when he comes up against experienced competitor Andre Dirrell for the IBF World Super Middleweight Title. The term ‘genuine 50/50’ is thrown around a lot in boxing, however in this fight I think that’s exactly what we’ve got, with both men finding themselves 10/11 to be crowned champions in Boston.

James DeGale has always been recognised as an extremely well-skilled and accomplished fighter. ‘Chunky’, as he’s known, has elevated himself from a young Olympic prospect into BoxRec’s 3rd placed Super Middleweight behind Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham.

The 29-year-old was set back early on in his career when a certain grudge match against George Groves ended in defeat, which tarnished DeGale’s perfect record. Nevertheless, the London-born fighter was able to bounce back and is now looking for his 11th consecutive win in his most important fight ever this weekend.

The Gold medallist enters his world title shot supremely confident after 3 KO wins in 2014 against a good calibre of opponent, despatching unbeaten opponents Khatchikian and Brandon Gonzalez in four rounds at Wembley on the undercard of Froch-Groves. In November, DeGale faced his latest test in Marco Antonio Periban, in what was deemed as a very good test in preparation for a title shot in the summer. DeGale simply overwhelmed Periban in three rounds, timing a couple of left hooks to perfection to get the stoppage. The Brit’s recent form suggests a vast increase in power of late. DeGale is priced at an inviting 7/2 to finish the fight inside the 12 rounds this weekend.

There’s no hiding, however, that Andre Dirrell is a different proposition to what ‘Chunky’ has faced in the past. America’s top Super Middleweight behind Andre Ward, ‘The Resurrected’ has been in with the very best. In 2009, Dirrell gave Carl Froch without doubt one of the toughest fights in his career, coming to Nottingham and losing narrowly on a split decision. The subsequent year, the American gloved up with one of the most feared fighters in the sport, Arthur Abraham, and knocked him to the canvas in the fourth. He eventually won when Abraham was disqualified for punching Dirrell after he’d slipped in the 11th. There’s no doubting that the 31-year-old has been in the ring with the very best that the Super Middleweight division has to offer.

The Tale of the Tape doesn’t give away much in terms of advantages for either fighter. Both adopt the Southpaw stance and physically match-up very nicely. Similarly, they both boast around 60% KO ratio. If you’re feeling a bit risky, a punt on the draw at 20/1 could be a great idea.

I believe one of the main deciding factors in this fight will be DeGale’s more aggressive style, which should catch the eyes of the judges. The Brit has been very aggressive in his most recent fights, which has suited him very well and his left hook carries huge power. The Olympian won’t find Dirrell easy to hit however. Formerly nicknamed ‘The Matrix’, the American is renowned for his excellent defensive capabilities and ability to slip and slide punches. Therefore, a KO win would most likely come in the later rounds for DeGale, who’s 14/1 to win between Rounds 10-12.

On paper, this looks a tremendously close match-up. However there’s a confidence and belief in DeGale, earned from his most recent fights, that I believe gives the Brit the edge. If ‘Chunky’ can back Dirrell up on the ropes and unleash combinations, and most importantly his left hook, I can see the Gold medallist enjoying spells of success that the Boston judges will enjoy. For that reason I believe DeGale to win on points at 9/5 is your safest best with most conceding the fight will go the distance at is your safest best with most conceding the fight will go the distance at 1/2.