James DeGale beats Piotr Wilczewski to win Euro title
James DeGale became European super-middleweight champion after beating Piotr Wilczewski in Liverpool
James DeGale beat Piotr Wilczewski by a mixed decision on Saturday to win the European super-middleweight title, rebounding from his first career defeat by George Groves in May.
The bout went the entire 12 rounds and was decided by the judges, with the scorecards reading 114-114, 113-115, 113-115 in DeGale’s favour to hand the 25-year-old a majority decision after the toughest fight of his career.
DeGale, who improved his record to 11 wins, eight by knockout and one defeat, began the fight at a fast tempo, hitting his smaller opponent from distance with his southpaw jab and winning the first round relatively easily.
European champion Wilczewski had only been beaten once before in his career, and from the second round onwards showed he was at his best, fighting up close to DeGale and catching the Londoner with damaging right hands.
By the third round a cut was apparent below DeGale’s right eye, as the Pole stifled Olympic gold medallist’s rhythm and natural game by turning the fight into a brawl.
DeGale was stunned by a huge right hand midway through the fifth and was forced to grapple and dance his way to the end of the round as his Polish opponent attempted to end the fight.
However, from the sixth round onwards DeGale began to box the fight his way, using his superior speed and athletic ability to dictate the tempo from distance and using his jab and quick flurries to win the rounds.
Wilczewski, always dangerous, tired as the fight progressed, but remained a threat up close, always looking to throw his right hand when the opportunity arouse.
In the final round, the two boxers entertained the crowd as they stood and traded punches in the centre of the ring, but when the bell rang it was clear DeGale had done enough to win the European title.
“It’s about time, I’m back on top,” said DeGale after the fight. “Hopefully some doors will open.”
“I showed some grit and had to dig deep. His [Wilczewski’s] record speaks for himself – he’s a good seasoned pro.
“I got caught in the fourth round and then couldn’t hear and my legs went a bit after I lost balance, but I got through it.
“I’ve got a world ranking now – I’m ranked number two in WBO. I’ve won the British and European titles in 12 fights and the Olympic gold. I want to fight for the world title by the time of the next Olympics.”