James Degale lost for the first time since May of 2011 and dropped his IBF super-middleweight title to gutsy American Caleb Truax at the Copper Box Arena in London on Saturday night.
The 2008 Olympic gold medalist was fighting for the first time since his titanic drawn battle with Badou Jack in January and just six months after he went under the knife to repair his injured right shoulder. Both the inactivity and a seeming lack of confidence in the shoulder appeared to hamper DeGale, who didn’t look at his sharpest and threw the right hand with a lack of conviction.
Truax, however, did not lack conviction in any department. The Minnesota native entered a Trojan work-rate and put DeGale under enormous pressure from the get-go. DeGale tried to box and move, but all-too frequently found himself pinned to the ropes.
In the fifth round, Truax badly hurt DeGale with a savage salvo of punches – a jolting right hand was followed by a pair of heavy uppercuts and another right. For the rest of the stanza, Truax trounced DeGale, as blood poured from the Englishman’s mouth. DeGale could rarely create any real separation between he and Truax to gain some respite. At times he accepted that there was no escape and stood still against the ropes, bravely waving Truax in.
DeGale steadied the ship a bit in the sixth, but Truax just kept coming and just kept working.
In the tenth, the visitor had another big round, again hurting DeGale along the ropes with a big uppercut. Luckily for DeGale, a head-clash seemed to slow Truax’s momentum somewhat.
Both fighters were shattered in the close championships rounds, but they emptied what was left in their tanks in pursuit of victory.
In the end, Truax was awarded a deserved majority decision win by scores of 114-114, 115-112 and 116-112.
After the fight, the amiable and classy Truax admitted that DeGale is a better boxer than he but noted that he had learned a great deal from watching the Brit’s aforementioned fight with Jack.
“We watched a lot of the Badou Jack tape and noticed that he didn’t like pressure that much,” said Truax, who had previously lost every time he’d stepped up to world class – outpointed by Jermain Taylor in 2012, stopped by Daniel Jacobs in 2015 and finished by Anthony Dirrell in 2016. “He’s a hell of a boxer, a classy boxer, and I couldn’t let him start off on the front foot. I had to keep him backing up, otherwise I couldn’t box with him – he’s a better boxer than me. But I had to make it into a dog fight, and that’s what I did.”
DeGale, who was 1/16 favourite with many bookies, suggested that his surgically repaired shoulder was not at 100% and that he rushed back into action
“I’ve got to go back to the drawing board, I’ve got to sort certain things out in camp, and I’ve got to change things,” said DeGale. “I could jab, there was no pain [in the shoulder], but it’s not flowy, it’s not flowing.”
The result stimulated quite a reaction on Twitter, with some labeling it the upset of the year.
Wow. Traux beats DeGale by majority decision. 114-114, 115-112, 116-112. Arguably the biggest upset of the year. #Boxing
— Sheldan Keay (@SheldanKeay) December 9, 2017
Upset of the year as Caleb Truax wins majority decision and super middleweight title from James DeGale!!!!! #boxing
— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) December 9, 2017
He got it, Degale was shocking. https://t.co/PHdHtAIzGK
— Kenneth Egan OLY (@kenegan30) December 9, 2017
Correct decision! Thought De Gale was gonna get it there but Truax deserved it. #DeGaleTruax
— Adam McKola (@AdamMcKola) December 9, 2017
— Lou DiBella (@loudibella) December 9, 2017
Say what you like about DeGale, but tonight offered yet further evidence that the dude is one tough ba5t*rd. When things heat up in a #boxing ring, he doesn’t shy away. I’ll never forget that late round versus Badou Jack when James clawed his way back from the fringes of oblivion
— Jonathan Shrager (@JonathanShrager) December 9, 2017
Gutted for James degale, 11 months out the ring and some very hard fights on the road has done some damage, Didn't look like the old degale movement and shot variety wasn't how it used to be..
— Lucien Reidy (@LucienReidy) December 9, 2017
Absolutely disastrous for James Degale. ?
Congratulations to Caleb Truax on shocking the world ?? #DeGaleTruax
— Dave Coldwell (@davidcoldwell) December 9, 2017
Gutted for James DeGale, but that Jack fight was a punishing one. He’s a class act and always a joy to interview
— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) December 9, 2017
Been saying for a while DeGale is a bang average fighter. That was supposed to be a routine win. #DeGaleTruax
— Jake Heasman (@jakeheasman) December 9, 2017
Live the life of a fighter or you will get found out…. https://t.co/JlgQT6tWlU
— Carl Froch MBE (@Carl_Froch) December 9, 2017
Degale has got a chin on him. Showed a lot of heart there. #DeGaleTruax ??
— Andy Gatenby (@gatenbygas) December 9, 2017
Call it a day mate, you ain't got it no more.
— George Groves (@StGeorgeGroves) December 9, 2017
Just because… pic.twitter.com/gBiHm00m4S
— George Groves (@StGeorgeGroves) December 10, 2017
— Badou Jack (@BadouJack) December 9, 2017
— Chris Eubank Jr (@ChrisEubankJr) December 9, 2017
Desperate performance by Degale. Some people saying he must be injured, but it looked to me like a case of a boxer who relies on his reflexes for defence, just not having the reflexes he used to have any more #boxing #DeGaleTruax
— Ron Lewis (@RonLewisTimes) December 9, 2017