James DeGale (21-1, 14 KOs) defeated Andre Dirrell (24-2, 16 KOs) Saturday afternoon on Premier Boxing Champions on NBC from Agganis Arena in Boston to earn the vacant IBF super-middleweight world title.
Degale had Dirrell in trouble early knocking him down twice in the second round to open up a lead on the scorecards. Dirrell fought back strongly throughout the rest of the fight by using his jab and a series of combinations to stun occasionally DeGale but was unable to make up the gap on the scorecards. The judges’ scores were 114-112 twice and 117-109.
Worcester’s Edwin Rodriguez (27-1, 18 KOs) impressed the crowd at Agganis Arena with a dominant third-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Craig Baker (16-1, 12 KOs). The ref stopped the fight at 2:22 into the third round because of unanswered punches to the head.
Another local favorite, Framingham’s Danny O’Connor (26-2, 10 KOs) was determined to put on a show close to home and he delivered in a big way, stopping Chris Gilbert (13-2, 10 KOs) in the fifth round. O’Connor knocked Gilbert down in rounds two and three before getting the stoppage in round five.
Here is what the fighters had to say Saturday:
“I am speechless. In my whole career, what I have been building up to is winning a world title and I have finally done it. It is an unbelievable feeling. I have made history; I am the first British Olympic Gold medalist to become a world champion.
“I am back now and injury free. I will take on any super middleweight in the world. There is no other super middleweight in the world who will beat me. I am hard to beat when I am at my best.
“Let’s not forget Dirrell is a very good opponent who is very, very talented and hard to beat.
“I am super fit, feeling good and I am ready. I am a world champion.”
“They said I ran from Carl Froch, and they took that fight from me. He ran tonight, and they gave it to him.
“All he did was run, no way I lost this fight.”
“I imposed my will and took him out. I was hitting him with some hard rights, and it was only a matter of time.
“I hit him with a lot of clean rights, but I really wanted to knock him down.
“I’m ready for a title fight now, but maybe it will take one more fight. That’s up to my team.”
“I felt like it was stopped too soon but it’s done now, and all I can do is go back to the gym and work harder and come back stronger next time.
“I commend Edwin and today I guess the better man won.
“My activity level wasn’t high enough that’s all.
“I’m a champion either way it goes; it’s time to get back in the gym.”
“The game plan was to be intelligent and use my skills. We didn’t think he was as skillful, and I didn’t want to fight down to him. Luckily the body shots really affected him.
“As soon as Paulie Malignaggi got injured I turned my focus towards this fight. That’s all I thought about. I still want to fight Paulie.”
“Danny O’Connor is a slick well rounded fighter. He just caught me with a great shot. I really appreciate the experience of fighting on this card, but I feel like I have more to give.
“To improve on my performance in the future I just need more experience, I’ll be back.
“Danny is the best fighter I’ve fought so far.”