In what can already be considered a potential fight of the year candidate, tonight fight fans saw the UK's James DeGale facing Sweden's Badou Jack in an exciting title fight to unify the WBC and IBF Super Middleweight belts. DeGale entered the bout with a record of 23-1, while Jack boasted a record of 20-1. The fight certainly lived up to the expectations of the public and nothing more could have been asked for in this unification bout, which is a rarity to see in the sport these days.
The two combatants did not waste any time in letting the fireworks fly, as it was James DeGale who struck first. He was able to time Badou Jack coming in and caught him with a straight left that sent him to the canvas. It was not the ideal start that Badou Jack could have envisioned, but being down early on the scorecards did not seem to deter the TMT-affiliated fighter. Badou Jack was able to slowly work his way back into the fight with his pinpoint accuracy and flush body shots that seemed to take some zap out of the legs of the elusive DeGale over the middle rounds. The fight was fairly even during the middle rounds even though DeGale claimed a two-point lead early on with the first round knockdown.
Heading into the championship rounds, there was still no definitive frontrunner in the fight and it was clearly evident that a tough decision was looming. The fight was back and forth between the two champions as DeGale was able to weather the storm of Jack and actually put together some good rounds of his own where his work-rate could be considered a pivotal factor in judging the rounds compared to the accurate and flush shots of Badou Jack. Round 12 would be Badou Jack's best round of the night. In the middle of the round, he landed a clubbing left hook that clearly hurt DeGale and while DeGale had crouched forward, Jack followed up the left with a right hand that sent DeGale stumbling backwards and down to the canvas. In a closely scored bout with many toss-up rounds, the knockdown could've been the fatal blow for the IBF champ DeGale. He was able to survive the round but Jack was clearly the more durable fighter the second half of the fight.
It would all come down to the judges' scorecards for the two fighters. Both combatants have had controversial decisions recently and this would turn out to be another one for them. Jack earned a controversial majority draw against Lucian Bute, in a bout that he clearly won and later saw Bute test positive for a banned substance post-fight. DeGale on the other hand was coming off a controversial unanimous decision victory against Rogelio "Porky" Medina, a fight that many thought DeGale lost. Judge Glenn Feldman scored the bout 114-112 for DeGale, while the other two judges scored the bout even at 113-113, resulting in a majority draw. Badou Jack was visibly upset after the decision was announced as this was the second time in a row he has been involved in a controversial decision.
In the post-fight interview, DeGale pressed for a rematch in the UK with his promoter Eddie Hearn by his side. Badou Jack, who has been mentioning moving up in weight to the Light Heavyweight division since last year was, non-committal about a possible rematch in the UK. Jack's promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr. stated, "This decision was bad for boxing". Albeit the controversial draw decision, a rematch with James DeGale is certainly worth sticking around the 168-pound division for, as Jack would be able to earn another great payday and possibly unify titles successfully in a second bout with Degale.
In the co-main event of the card, Gervonta "Tank" Davis proved he was ready for the main stage as he was able to knockout previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza of Puerto Rico to capture the IBF Super Featherweight title. Davis improved his record to 17-0 with the knockout victory. This marks the first world title for the 22-year old out of Baltimore.