Lucian Bute vs James Degale & Eleider Alvarez vs Isaac Chilemba
BY KID HERSH
Showtime Championship Boxing: First up was Eleider Alvarez (18-0, 10ko's) vs Isaac Chilemba (24-2-2, 10ko's). In the first round Chilemba was doing a lot of looking but not much punching. Alvarez was using his fast hands to land single shots at a time and was comfortable outboxing and measuring up Chilemba for the round. In the next few rounds Alvarez would continue outboxing Chilemba. It wasn't until the fourth round that Chilemba upped his work rate and tried to really press Alvarez. Alvarez answered by still landing the cleaner blows though and not getting flustered. He then upped his work rate further in the fifth round to put an emphasis on the fact that he was the better boxer. Alvarez continued boxing his man in the sixth round and then in the seventh the tides turned after Alvarez took a solid right hand and started backing up and going defensive. Chilemba looked confident and took control, out throwing Chilemba for the first time in the fight. The eighth round was the best one of the fight and a great round for the year as both guys were inside trading bombs by the end of the round after vying for control for the majority of it. The ebb and flow of the eighth round was great and neither fighter would give ground. The ninth round was closely fought but at a lesser rate than the eighth. The tenth showed Chilemba trying to pressure and come on stronger but Alvarez was doing his best to fight him off and use outside boxing to out point him. Chilemba got through in the eleventh round where Alvarez looked like the more tired man. The twelfth and final round was again closely fought with Chilemba pouring it on in the first minute but then fading for the final two. A lot of close rounds in this fight, just feels to me that Alvarez edged out the close ones, having more consistency overall on the whole. He did receive the MD with one card giving him 10 rounds and the other 7.
Before the main event Custer interviewed Adonis Stevenson in a surprising frankly interview where he said that he just talked to Sergey Kovalev, who is at the venue, and they talked about fighting in June and he agreed to it. Kovalev wants it on HBO, Adonis is Showtime, but he said that for certain he is going to fight him because he wants to win the title - which Kovalev holds. I am pretty surprised that he would say that considering Dawson had the lineal title and he knocked him out in the first round which would mean it passed to him. But, it's all boxing semantics I guess in the end because most fans would say Kovalev is the man to beat and their personal lineal champion.
Main event time with James DeGale (21-1, 14ko's) vs Lucian Bute (32-2, 25ko's). This is the first defense of the IBF title for DeGale, traveling to Bute's backyard in Canada to give the ex-champ a shot at getting his old title belt back. The first round was fought at a very fast pace with Bute landing left hands - one of them hurting DeGale midway through the round. DeGale was landing some good shots as well but Bute has him frustrated a bit early on in my opinion. In the second round the pace was a bit slower as the fight turned to a chess match where the fighters were looking for holes on the other man to exploit. DeGale tried turning to orthodox to give different angles as well but did not have much success with it. The third round saw DeGale gain confidence though and up the work rate while pressing the action on Bute. Bute is answering back very well and landing some great shots as well including his signature uppercut but he was outworked this round. The fourth round was more ebb and flow, with DeGale throwing lots of punches but Bute landed some of his best shots of the fight with more hard uppercuts as well as straight left hands. DeGale showed an amazing defense in the fifth round as he dropped his hands and slipped punches while stepping around Bute and countering with angles. He was extremely slick and showing great athleticism in this round but Bute was not cracking yet, still showing a lot of determination and landing some shots himself. DeGale continued showing his great defense in the next couple rounds as he moved about the ring and showed that Bute just cannot connect on him flush consistently - even with his hands down! Bute showed that he came in great shape and ready to fight in the eighth round as he pressed forward, still having good speed and snap in his shots. He is just having a hard time with DeGales angles as he steps around Bute and moves diagonally and all directions with ease to slip Bute's shots. DeGale's momentum was still going for the next couple rounds into the championship ones, especially the tenth as he punished Bute while sitting down on his shots. DeGales defense and footwork is just something great to watch going down the stretch here, slipping shots and showing great head movement. The twelfth round was one to remember with both men giving every extra ounce of energy they had left in the gas tank while slugging it out. Tough to pick between the two with the Canadian fans on their feet and in a defeating roar over the great championship fight they are seeing between two warriors who will not back off. DeGale again though I feel just had the edge of it with his slicker defense. He did end up taking the hard earned victory via UD. Bute has no shame in this fight though - he gave a great account of himself.