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James DeGale Cruises To Bigger Things in 2013

by Cliff Rold

26-year old 2008 Olympic Middleweight Gold Medalist James DeGale (14-1, 9 KO) of Harlesden, London, England, won his fourth straight since a narrow loss to George Groves as he works towards contention in the Super Middleweight division, dropping 35-year old veteran Fulgencio Zuniga (25-7-1, 22 KO) of Barranquilla, Colombia, on Saturday night at the Bonus Arena in Hull, Yorkshire, United Kingdom, en route to a dominant unanimous decision.  It was Zuniga’s third loss in four fights after dropping decisions to Light Heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud and 168 lb. contender Thomas Oosthuizen.

Both men weighed in below the division limit, DeGale a half pound under at 167 ½, Zuniga at 164 ½.

DeGale fought at an exact pace in the first two rounds, the southpaw mixing his attack with long left from the outside and doubling wisely to the body when close.  In the second, a quick shot to the head seemed to drop Zuniga, but referee Luigi Muratore ruled a slip.  Zuniga had been standing on the ring paint at ring center and there was surely a judgment call.  Zuniga rose and looked shaken but it went his way.

Zuniga got a little help in the third as well.  After having a little success early in pressing DeGale to the ropes, DeGale started to work the perimeter, forcing Zuniga to follow.  Stopping for an assault in the final minute, DeGale led with hooks and followed with lefts, a sharp left uppercut dropping Zuniga.  Zuniga beat the count and DeGale pounced.  Muratore stopped the attack briefly, appearing to believe he’d heard the bell despite plenty of time left in the round.  He waved the fighters back on and Zuniga covered, rocked late with a right hand but keeping his feet.

In the fourth, DeGale continued as he had been throughout the fight.  Zuniga attacked him late on the ropes but DeGale blocked well and looked for precise counters.  It would take until the sixth for Zuniga to show some real hurt again, bent over by hard body shots near the ropes and rocked with a shot the head not long after.  Zuniga, to his credit, did what he had all night, continuing to come forward and throwing leather in hope of a turnaround.  He got through with some rights but the guard of DeGale absorbed the left hook.

DeGale continued to be the more accurate man through rounds seven and eight even as Zuniga willed himself to continue competing.  After the eighth, WBC open scoring showed DeGale with a five-point lead (the bout was contested for a WBC Silver belt).

DeGale continued to take breaks in the last third of the fights on the ropes, daring Zuniga to get into the fight but never really letting him do so.  When he opted to move, and occasionally switch to an orthodox stance, DeGale showed superiority and kept piling points.  DeGale tried to close the show in the twelfth, rocking Zuniga near the minute mark and letting loose some hard shots along the ropes.  Zuniga endured, came out firing, and made the final bell.

The scoring was clear given the previously announced lead, favoring DeGale at unanimous scores of 118-109. 

DeGale came into the bout rated #6 by the IBF and #4 WBO.  One can assume he now joins the ratings for the WBC as well.

Also televised, the son of a former Super Middleweight champion continued his progression as a professional.  23-year old Chris Eubank Jr. (9-0, 4 KO), 163 ¾, of Brighton, Sussex, United Kingdom, scored his first stop in three fights with an impressive second round thrashing of 28-year old Oleg Fedotovs (15-10, 11 KO), 164, of Riga, Latvia.  It was the third loss in four fights for Fedotovs and the third stoppage loss of his career.

The card was televised in the U.S. on Wealth TV, promoted by Hennessy Sports.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

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