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Home » Sport » Boxing

DeGale powers to victory

Olympic gold medallist James DeGale continued his inexorable rise with a ninth-round stoppage of Paul Smith to claim the British super-middleweight title in only his ninth fight on Saturday night.

DeGale, 24, was taking a significant step up in class to challenge for his first major title after just eight professional fights. While all of those outings were victorious, it was considered a major gamble to throw himself into such deep waters at this early stage in his career.

However, he rose to the task with typical panache, looking classy and composed throughout before stepping it up in the ninth to hurt Smith and force the technical knockout.

Southpaw DeGale showed the early aggression, however Smith did land a solid right to the body. DeGale hurt Smith with a southpaw jab and crashing left hand as the bell sounded and goaded the champion before returning to his corner.

A scrappy second saw a slight improvement from Smith but it was again DeGale who shaded it, the pick of his work a lovely left to the head followed by one to the body. A roar went up in the third when Smith enjoyed some success with a left-right pairing and a right later in the round was well timed. Harlesden's DeGale, though, was landing shots more regularly.

A cut opened over Smith's right eye - having had horrendous problems in his previous two fights - in the fourth, though it was unclear whether it was caused by a punch. DeGale poured forward and landed several shots in an impressive flurry late in the round.

The fifth was probably Smith's best so far as he dragged DeGale into a war, drawing excitable cheers from the partisan crowd. DeGale went beyond five rounds for the first time in his fledgling career but seemed fresh and controlled.

Two hard lefts at close range thudded against Smith's head then before he got some respite with a time out after a low blow from DeGale. The challenger began the seventh with a stiff right uppercut but was later caught by a left hook by Smith, before DeGale slipped to the floor at the end of the round.

DeGale's work was more prolific and consistent than that of his game opponent and he snapped Smith's head back with a three-shot volley in the eighth. Smith almost looked ready to go in the ninth when DeGale put more venom in his shots, landing fierce blows flush on Smith's chin.

The Liverpudlian seemed to recover well but when another left hit home sickeningly hard and DeGale rained in blow after unanswered blow, referee Foster waved it off much to Smith's disgust.


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