A Storm Brewing in Boston - DeGale v Dirrell preview
Live on Sky Sports this Saturday, is the intriguing clash fans of Britain's former 'Olympic Gold' medal winner James 'Chunky' DeGale and onetime Olympic Bronze medallist himself Andre Dirrell have been waiting for. A true 50/50 fight on paper and one that most informed pundits are finding very difficult to call! This is reflected in the betting with Dirrell a marginal favourite Stateside and DeGale the same in the UK.
Comparing these two skilful Southpaws isn't easy, with very little in the way of form to match them against. Dirrell has fought almost exclusively in the USA and fought nobody that DeGale has, losing just the once, to our very own Carl Froch, there was no disgrace in that. DeGale is also a fighter with just the one defeat, a close points defeat to the talented George Groves in only his 11th pro fight. The Groves fight is where I will start:
DeGale could have been given the decision in this fight, it was very close, but the key for me was, (not for the first time) Groves got under DeGale's skin; he later did the same before his fights with Froch. DeGale wasn't in my opinion focused on fighting the right fight to beat Groves, letting him pinch rounds whilst trying to be more the Alpha Male. DeGale has bounced back well, learning from the mistakes he made and winning all his 10 fights since. The last 2 years have been very impressive; his skills are getting better with every fight and his strength increasing along with his knockout ratio. DeGale's close relationship with his trainer Jim McDonnell is in my opinion a key factor in his ability to travel to Boston and bring the title home. I can vividly remember McDonnell ending the career of the great Barry McGuigan with a sensational performance which shocked us all, this ability to snatch an opportunity when you get the chance, is a mindset in which DeGale is no doubt being tutored at every opportunity by his trainer. McDonnell is a great tactician and he was exactly the same as a fighter, but also brave as a lion. James DeGale will need to be the same on Saturday!
There is no doubt Andre Dirrell has the pedigree of a World Class fighter, he is an athletic, well muscled, speedy fighter who at times has demonstrated ruthless boxing ability, whilst exuding confidence bordering on arrogance. All went well for Dirrell until, fighting in the 'Super Six' series; (aimed at crowning the best super middleweight in the world) he was beaten, as mentioned already, by our own soon to be World Champion Carl Froch. In this fight in Nottingham (still the only fight for Dirrell outside the US) I felt underwhelmed by Dirrell's display, yes it was a close split decision, but I was left feeling that Dirrell only wanted to survive, with Froch walking him down the whole fight, and Dirrell constantly holding at the first sign of any danger from Froch's punches. It was no spectacle, and a performance he cannot repeat against DeGale where he will have to leave it all in the ring!
I'm sure Dirrell has learnt a lot about himself following the defeat, and he also, has remained unbeaten since.
Dirrell has had problems in and out of the ring though, beginning when winning by a 'Disqualification' of his Super Six opponent Arthur Abraham. Abraham had hit Dirrell when he was down, due to slipping on a wet patch, the blow knocked Dirrell out in a delayed fashion, and the referee immediately named Dirrell the winner. It's on record that Dirrell suffered 'Neurological' damage from the Abraham blow, and he consequently pulled out of the remaining 'Super Six' bouts, turning down the fight with his friend and eventual winner of the series Andre Ward (1 of only 2 men to beat Carl Froch) Dirrell didn't fight for the next 21 months, where it has been widely reported he was also experiencing family problems, but has since had 5 fights in 3 years, beating good but not exceptional opponents in a professional manner.
In choosing a winner I find myself leaning towards the younger DeGale, I feel he could be hungrier than perhaps Dirrell will expect, and he has been sensational in his recent fights, beating high class fighters like Brandon Gonzales and Marco Antonio Periban in brutal fashion.
Both being 'Southpaws' should make for a good fight, but I fancy there is some value in backing a 'Late Round Stoppage' in favour of DeGale! His recent prolific wins by Knockout point to a fighter at the peak of his powers, DeGale could land a knockout blow for you all, with prices here at William Hill as large as 28/1 for DeGale to win in any of rounds 8.9,10,11 and 12
Of course going to America and winning is never easy! So for doubters of the British fighter's chances, we here at William Hill are Top price 11/10 Dirrell to win, and also 15/8 to win on points.
Nevertheless I think Dirrell will have to deal with a storm brewing in Boston, in the Shape of James 'Chunky' DeGale.
Enjoy the fight, till the next time!