Andre Dirrell vs James DeGale & Edwin Rodriguez vs Craig Baker
BY KID HERSH
From Agganis Arena in Boston came a compelling PBC matchup in the afternoon between Andre Dirrell (24-1, 16ko's) vs James DeGale (20-1, 14ko's). It was featured on NBC. In the first round it was a pretty close matchup between the two southpaws and ex Olympic medalists. Dirrell seemed to control the range a bit better and landed a vicious uppercut to the body midway through the round. Both guys were talking to each other and not going to back off at all. In the second round Dirrell was having himself a great round by getting off first, having a solid defense in slipping DeGales shots, and being very aggressive while drawing blood from DeGales right eye. With less than 30 seconds left in the round DeGale caught Dirrell with a massive left hook that sent him to the canvas. Dirrell rose, but went down once again as he was on wobbly legs and barely made it through the round as the round ended with him clinching right as DeGale was going for the kill. In the third round Dirrell was again the ring general for the majority of the round by controlling the distance with his jab andd getting off with his lead left hand but got sloppy at the end of the round in dropping his hands and got caught again with a big left hand that wobbled his legs with less than 30 seconds left in the round. In the fourth round Dirrell's face showed the discouragement as he got out-jabbed and beat to the punch. DeGale carried the momentum through the fifth and sixth rounds, even bloodying Dirrell's nose and mouth in the sixth round when he was showing that ring generalship in knowing when to punch and when not to, when to turn it on and when to turn it off. Meanwhile, Dirrell looked a bit perplexed and discouraged in not knowing how to solve the puzzle in front of him. In the seventh round Dirrell turned up to the heat at the end of the round, throwing combinations with his blazing fast speed while DeGale covered up and blocked many shots but also took some. Dirrell carreid that momentum into the eighth round where he again threw more punches and walked DeGale down while being more effective than in the early to mid rounds. Is DeGale saving himself for the late rounds? It appears so, either that or he is lackadaisical, as in the ninth round he laid back further and let Dirrell come forward and throw more shots. He isn't doing damage but again he put another round in the bank just because of DeGales low output. The two fighters are also jawing at each other nonstop in this round and the last, having no love loss as Dirrell was pounding his heart and coming forward to show that he is not going gently into that good night. In the tenth round it was a close one, with Dirrell landing the best punch of the round - an uppercut early on that snapped DeGales head backwards violently. The rest of the round was close fought, with DeGale coming more alive than in the previous rounds. This fight is awfully close at this point and makes me wonder why DeGale has gotten so complacent in the last few rounds, allowing this fight to get close! Well, right when I am basically screaming at him to just let his hands go (seeing as how he is not out of stamina) he came on strong in the eleventh round would solid flurries and powerful shots that thudded home on Dirrell, who had the steam taken out of him and put him back on his heels. In the twelfth and final round neither man really exploded with any sort of reserve stamina saved up, which I thought DeGale may have had at this point. DeGale unloaded with a series of combinations only once in the round, and otherwise stayed on his wheels as Dirrell plodded forward but didn't have the energy to do anything against DeGales excellent defense. The cards came in a UD win for DeGale, who makes history as the first British gold medalist to become a world champion (IBF).
Next up on the card was Edwin Rodriguez (26-1, 17ko's) vs Craig Baker (16-0, 12ko's). Baker is a big unknown, and looked like just that in the first round as Rodriguez came out and murdered his body for the entirety of the first round, absolutely destroying the body and pushing Baker backwards for the full three minutes and beating him both at long range as well as inside. It was more of the same in the second round, with Rodriguez landing a couple of devastating uppercuts. In the third round the fight was over when midway through the round Baker took a right hand that hurt him, sending him back to the ropes, where Rodriguez followed up with combinations and single shots for nearly an entire minute until the referee stopped the fight. Surprisingly, Baker still seemed like he could continue, but it was painfully obvious that he is so outmatched that he is not going to be able to win on either points or a haymaker even. Rodriguez was just too many levels above him.