3 More Rounds

DeGale retains title over Bute

Photos: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

Photos: Amanda Westcott / Showtime

James DeGale defended his super middleweight title on Saturday night as he scored a unanimous decision win over former world champ Lucian Bute in Quebec City.

In what was DeGale’s first title defense, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist opted to fight a bit more aggressively and had success landing body shots and hooks against Bute, who was more than willing to trade punches and gave as good as he got.

Bute, 35, was hoping to win back the same belt he defended nine times before succumbing to Carl Froch in 2012, and put on one of his best performances in years.  Bute’s better rounds came midway through the fight, as DeGale tried to fight a more tactical fight, giving Bute the opportunity to pin him near the ropes and unload lefts to the body and right hands upstairs.  When DeGale was the aggressor, he controlled the rounds, but when turning defensive, Bute (32-3, 25 KOs) took over.

In a Round of the Year candidate, the two unleashed their full arsenal in the final round, as Bute looked for a knockout and DeGale was happy to return the favor.  However, in the end, the younger DeGale (22-1, 14 KOs) received the nod with scores of 116-112, 117-111 (twice).

Bute-DeGale

“I’m young and I’m fresh. I’m peaking right now,” DeGale said.  “I’m ready for the best in the world. Credit to Bute – he’s a great champion and believe me, he will be back.”

“Like I’ve said in the past, he is a world-class fighter. I’ve still got things to work on in the next three or four years and I’m going to be my best.”

Bute wasn’t discouraged by the loss and said he would fight on in an attempt to get one more title shot. 

“I think it was a great fight.  I did my best tonight,” Bute said.  “I think it was a close fight.  He’s an Olympic champion, he’s a world champion.  If the judges give him the decision I respect that. I’ll be back in the gym to work hard and continue to fight.  I think it was a very close fight.  I’m happy with my performance and I’ll be back in the gym to get back in the ring one more time. 

“The last three years were difficult for me.  After I lost to Carl Froch that was a very difficult period for me.  I took a break, and now I’m back.  I feel great, I feel healthy and now I have one more chance to be back on the top.”

In the Showtime Championship Boxing co-feature, light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez scored a majority decision win over Isaac Chilemba, earning him the right to face light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson.

Scores were 114-114, 118-110, 115-113.

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