By Wayne Bartlett: James DeGale was forced to dig deep to retain his European super middleweight title, as he outpointed teak tough Frenchman Hadillah Mohoumadi.
Scorecards of 119-109, 117-111 and 116-112 all in favour of DeGale, belied a tough night for the southpaw champion, in what was his first bout since splitting from promoter Frank Warren.
With his tiring charge lying on the ropes and a relentless bombardment coming his way, new promoter Mick Hennessy must just have been glad DeGale got through this defence with the win.
Mohoumadi, now 13-3-1(9), came into the fight as an unknown, but his game plan was soon as apparent as the fact he came to Bluewater in Kent hell-bent on winning.
Despite enjoying a height advantage, the Frenchman didn’t box tall, and pressing forward at every moment the visitor lost the opening rounds as DeGale rattled off quick-fire bursts of punches on the move.
Undeterred, Mohoumadi continued to push the fight with his gloves held high, and from round four onwards the champion was spending more and more time on the ropes.
The eye catching work was always that of DeGale’s, and in round five a solid uppercut rocked back the head of his Gallic adversary, but nothing seemed to deter the challengers enthusiasm.
Heading into the later rounds the fight was being fought at a gruelling pace but as soon as the Londoner maintained some space it was a different fight completely, with DeGale slashing home hooks and uppercuts.
The 2008 Olympic gold medallist finally made his foe stop in his tracks in round ten, but this proved to be momentary as DeGale, now nursing a small cut to his left cheekbone, dug in the remaining rounds to pound out the unanimous win.
"I knew he’d be game and durable but I didn’t know he’d be that tough!" said the marked up victor in the post fight interview.
Now 13-1(9) and his talent reaching a wider audience on terrestrial Channel 5, DeGale also spoke of a fresh start after his wrangles outside the ring.
On the same night as a fellow British Olympic gold medallist whose fights were once screened on terrestrial TV, was obliterated in a round after a pro career that never reached it’s potential, it will be interesting to see the path James DeGale takes.
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