Badou Jack vs Lucian Bute & James "Chunky" DeGale vs Rogelio "Porky" Medina
BY KID HERSH
From Washington, D.C. Came a highly anticipated championship doubleheader on Showtime. First up was Rogelio "Porky" Medina (36-6, 30ko's) vs James "Chunky" DeGale (22-1, 14ko's). Porky vs Chunky!! The first round was fast-paced, much like DeGale's rounds typically are. He was attacking from all kinds of angles and turning Medina, causing him to cover up and have a bit of a mute offense. We all know that Medina is a slow starter though so it is not surprising to a certain extent. The second round showed positives from both fighters as a real fight broke out! Medina was not backing down at all whatsoever and you could tell he was completely mentally focused and not at all concerned about DeGale's superior skill set and athletic capabilities. He showed this by boring forward and cutting off the ring on DeGale, trapping him on the ropes and in the corners while pounding away to the body. DeGale was landing some "pretty" shots such as head snapping uppercuts but it was obvious that he was being forced to fight at a pace he was not completely comfortable with. The third round was great back and forth action as the fight put on an air of one of those "potentially great ones" where you feel the tension building and neither fighter is backing down one bit with the styles clashing to create excitement. Medina had his moments in the third round early on where he blasted away with powerful combinations when in range but DeGale answered back midway through the round with combinations of his own that momentarily stunned and backed off the Mexican pressure fighter, only to have him shake it off and go right back at the champion for more brawling. When the fourth round tolled Medina made it clear that part of his plan is to press from the start of every single round, which he did yet again and blasted combinations at DeGale while backing him into the ropes with extreme aggression. It was very clear that he was doing a great job of making DeGale uncomfortable and he was the ring general as DeGale was forced to answer to him and fight at Medina's pace and tempo. Don't get me wrong, DeGale was landing some excellent shots, but they were skilled responses to the forced bearing down on him. This continued through the fifth round until in the sixth DeGale fought his way back into the fight by hurting Medina with an explosive left/right combination that cracked home with authority, sounding like a gunshot. The combination was in the final minute of the sixth round and it momentarily backed up Medina which is really saying something considering his game plan is clearly to not take any steps unless they are forward. Medina showed he is a warrior that came to fight though as he came out in round seven pressing just like every time previous and took control back of the fight for large chunks of the round. DeGale showed that he was a bit more comfortable moving around the ring than he was in the first half the fight but still I saw a man reacting in manners that typically mean he is trying to hide serious trouble. He did it and did it well but it's fights like this and rounds like these ones that create lots of controversy for scoring among the fans. In the eighth round DeGale went out and took control, showing that there was a top level fight with a couple of top level fighters that would not back down. DeGale had an excellent round as he got on his wheels and moved laterally and slide out of the pocket at angles while pumping the jab to cause Medina to miss with a lot of his shots. DeGale took that momentum and carried it into the ninth round where he showed lots of angles to his punches and especially footwork and head movement. DeGale's skill set was on display in the ninth when he was extremely hard to predict and hit flush, really showing that potential of being a top level fighter when he puts it all together such as he did in the final minute of the ninth round. For the tenth round DeGale came out with the solid momentum at the end of the ninth and continued the success in much the same manner with his unpredictable movements and angles on his shots but the second half of the tenth round it was all Medina coming on strong due to putting in solid body work and backing DeGale into the ropes while pounding away. The championship rounds were going to decide a winner on my card and Medina took control early in the eleventh round and never let it go for the remainder of that round as he took it clearly via activity and pressure. The twelfth and final round was another one that could be scored multiple ways depending on if you like the activity and pressure of Medina or the accurate, flashy punching of the champion. I will just say that a draw is a fair score in this fight and it could easily sway either direction - I just love the energy of the entire fight and that neither man cracked or backed down; we saw them both at their best in this high level fight! DeGale would end up winning the fight by UD with two of the judges having it a whopping 117-111. This fight ended up a controversial one because of the wide gaps in scoring we saw but it's one of those weird fights that could swing either direction. Compubox had Medina throwing nearly 100 punches per round and more power shots thrown than DeGale threw total shots. The other side of the coin is that DeGale landed over half of his total punches - a very impressive rate. Does a person like the work rate and pressure of Medina or do they like the accurate, flashy, crisp punching of DeGale? The consistent pressure of Medina or the dominant spurts of DeGale? The heavy body work of Medina or the flashy footwork of DeGale?
Next up was the main event Lucian Bute (32-3, 25ko's) vs Badou Jack (20-1-1, 12ko's). In the first round Jack established himself as the ring general slowly over the course of three minutes. He turned in the center of the ring, giving Bute angles and making him reset or come up short on his straight left hands. Meanwhile Jack was shooting off straight right hands after establishing his jab more and more by the minute. In the second round Bute was really busy with his head movement and unpredictable angles - almost in a DeGale sort of way but yet much more nervous and instead of setting up his punches the unpredictability was more so for defensive purposes. Starting in the second and then into the third round Jack was going to the body quite frequently on Bute due to that unpredictable head movement. When he went to the head it was a lot easier to miss than going to the body, which was a much more stationary target. Bute was bleeding by the end of the fourth round due to an accidental elbow he took on a missed hook by Jack. Bute was throwing a lot of arm punches and not committing to anything despite having very good power that we all know about. In the fifth round Jack established him more - especially with the big left hook that Jack landed from southpaw stance over two minutes into the round. The shot cracked home with authority and Bute held on right away, which was a very wise move from the veteran. Bute came out moving his hands more in the next couple rounds, seeming to adjust a bit to Jack turning him frequently so that instead of resetting his offense he was in position to shoot off combinations. His combos were still more so arm punches though while Jack's were crisp and punishing shots. Going down the stretch one had the feeling that Bute was looking to steal rounds with his arm shots and putter-patter combinations in spurts. Jack was also confusing Bute quite a bit by changing from orthodox to southpaw stance, which could be part of the reason why he is shooting the arm combinations; hoping to land something. Bute had a very good tenth round that seemed to come out of nowhere but upon completion of the round it seemed to me that Bute was simply either tired or taking a round off to prepare for the championship rounds. Jack's shots were straying low at this point in the fight as well - as they would in the eleventh round as well when Bute showed great stamina and got even busier when he ramped up his work rate spite being 36 years old just like he did against James DeGale. But enclosed the show very well in the twelfth and final round by keeping his work rate up after ramping it a few rounds previous. Jack was by no means supremely tired or on the verge of being gassed out but he was noticeably more tired than the 36 year old warrior in front of him that was looking to become champion again. The cards would come in very "surprising" with a majority draw as two judges had it 114-114 and the third judge had it 117-111 which was more towards the reality of the fight in my estimation. The judges must have been counting arm punching as more important than crisp, powwerful shots down the middle.