DeGale, Gavin and Saunders all Win, but fail to impress

By Boxing News - 12/06/2009 - Comments

saunders433By William Mackay: British amateur prospects James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders were all successful on Saturday night on the undercard of the World Boxing Association title match between Amir Khan and Dmitry Salita, at the Metro Arena, in Newcastle. DeGale and Saunders were forced to go the whole route and win by decisions over their limited opponents, whereas Gavin got what appeared to be a controversial 6th round stoppage in his fight on the same card. What appeared to be missing from the three amateur prospects is hand speed, defense and power.

In the case of Saunders, he seems to be on the short side for a super middleweight and looks to be lacking in arm length as well. Overall, DeGale, Gavin and Saunders look like good regional fighters in the future, but I can’t see anything yet in any of them that tells me that they’ll be future contenders at the world level.

DeGale (5-0, 3 KO’s) defeated light hitting journeyman Nathan King (12-15, 1 KO’s) by a four round decision. DeGale spent much of the fight switching back and forth needlessly between southpaw and orthodox. It didn’t matter which he was fighting, he was controlling the bout over his hapless opponent. It seemed a bit ridiculous really, all the switching back and forth. DeGale, the former 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist for Britain, generally slapped with his punches in every round and showed zero power.

DeGale’s hand speed hasn’t improved any, as he looked very slow with his punches. When he would throw, he often seemed to be throwing backhands like an amateur off the street rather than a former Olympic Gold Medalist. DeGale held and hit on a number of occasions in both the 3rd and 4th rounds, expertly draping his right arm around King’s neck and then while holding him in place nailing him with left hands. Very ugly to watch.

On defense, DeGale was hit often by King, perhaps because DeGale fought with his arms down by his sides at all times and wasn’t prepared to guard his head. It’s a style that DeGale needs to consider changing. He doesn’t have the quickness to predict and get away from incoming shots like Joe Calzaghe did. Instead of getting out of the way of shots, DeGale seems a second too late in sensing the punches coming and takes many of them in the face.

DeGale never had King in trouble and had to be content with winning a four round decision. DeGale needs to find power somewhere because he’s going to have problems at the pro level when he gets put in with better opposition at some point in the future. I think DeGale can get away with his poor technique against the local fighters, but when they put him in with a top ranked middleweight, I see DeGale like a boat on the ocean without an oar.

Light welterweight prospect Frankie Gavin’s 6th round stoppage over Samir Tergaoui (10-6, 8 KO’s) was controversial in my view, because Tergaoui was still firing back and on his feet at the time of the stoppage. Gavin fired off a flurry of shots, many of them missing their mark. However, the referee Andrew Wright jumped in anyway and stopped the bout with nine seconds to go before the end of the fight stopping it at 2:51.

An angry Tergaoui then shoved the referee seconds after the fight. It’s hard not to see why Tergaoui was upset, because he was still fighting back and didn’t look hurt in the least. But the stoppage continues Gavin’s knockout streak of 5 wins with five knockouts in his pro career, even if it did seem like a needless stoppage.

Gavin dropped Tergaoui at the start of the 6th with a straight left to the head. It seemed more of a flash knockdown than a legitimate one, because Tergaoui wasn’t hurt and continued to fire shots back at Gavin. Thinking he had Tergaoui hurt, Gavin went all out, going left hand crazy throwing one left hand after another and leaving himself wide open for shots from Tergaoui. It looked very sloppy, as Gavin was hit repeatedly as he tried to score a knockout.

In the earlier rounds, Gavin plodded forward landing body shots and head punches, but getting hit a lot by Tergaoui. Indeed, Gavin was getting hit too much in mind given that he was facing a badly over-matched opponent. Although Gavin held his guard up a little better than DeGale, he still was poor at blocking punches.

By the 5th, Gavin was covered in sweat and was starting to look tired. He took a lot of shots to the face and didn’t look fast or all that powerful.


Super middleweight Billy Joe Saunders (5-0, 3 KO’s) looked like the best of the three prospects, beating Lee Noble (11-13, 2 KO’s) by a six round decision. Nobles came into the bout having lost five of his last six fights, rarely threw anything back at Saunders. Most of the fight had Saunders fighting on the inside landing hard body shots mixed with hooks to the head. Saunders showed good power when punching to the body, but seems to have a lesser ability when throwing head punches.

Saunders kept his guard down at all times and was very hittable. With his inside fighting, Saunders looks like a throwback fighter from the past. He was successful against Noble, but I think Saunders will be way out of his element if he’s put in with a modern top 15 super middleweight with speed, movement and reach. Saunders is going to have to learn how to fight on the outside if he wants to extend his career. His inside game is going to cause him to take a lot of punishment in his career. Saunders doesn’t hit hard enough to take his opponents out quickly as we saw on Saturday night as he had to settle for a decision win over an opponent with a record of 11-12.

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