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DeGale: Dirrell doesn’t like it when it gets difficult in there

dirrell323By Scott Gilfoid: While super middleweight contender James DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs) has never fought #2 IBF Andre Dirrell (24-1, 16 KOs) before in order to give an accurate description of his talent and what he can or can’t do in the ring, DeGale is already dissecting him by saying that he sees him as someone who struggles when put under duress.

This Saturday night fans will get a chance to see if the 29-year-old DeGale knows what he’s talking about when he and Dirrell go head to head for the vacant IBF 168lb crown.

If DeGale knows what he’s talking about, then Dirrell will implode under the slow, plodding pressure that DeGale puts on him. But it’s more likely than not that DeGale will be the same fighter that his fellow countryman George Groves exposed four years ago in besting him by a 12 round decision. DeGale hasn’t stepped up since then. It’s only now after four long years that DeGale will finally be facing the best after his 10 tune-up fights that have consumed four years of his career without showing anything.

“Momentum is a big thing,” DeGale said. “Look at my last two performances against good, quality opponents and look his last three,” DeGale said to “I just think overall, I’m better. I think he struggles. He doesn’t like it when it gets hard in there. He’s a competent fighter, but he likes it when he’s dictating the pace and he’s on the front foot.”

I don’t think Dirrell has struggled in any of his fights during his career. Dirrell did have a bout against Carl Froch in 2009, which turned into an affair where he was getting fouled constantly by him from the 5th round to the 11th. If you want to call that a struggle, then I agree it was a struggle. When a referee isn’t stepping in to control a fight where a lot of fouling is occurring by one fighter, be it low blows or rabbit shots, it can turn into a struggle for the fighter being fouled. But apart from that, it really wasn’t a struggle for Dirrell in that fight against Froch. It was actually pretty one-sided with Dirrell dominating the much slower and less skilled Froch from start to finish. The only other tough fight that Dirrell had was against Arthur Abraham in 2010, but that was a dominant performance from Dirrell until he was fouled by Abraham after he slipped on the canvas. If you look at the replay of the fight, you’ll see that Dirrell was in control of the bout the entire way without any struggles.

“I’m just raring to go. I’m ready. I’m looking forward to it, I’m focused, my mind’s on it,” DeGale said to “I’ve trained too hard, I’ve come so far; it’s my time to prove all the doubters and haters wrong.”

It would have been nice for DeGale to prove his doubters wrong before this fight against Dirrell, because DeGale has fought a lot of weak opposition since his loss to Groves in 2011. If DeGale had fought someone good during all those years, he would have proven his doubters wrong a lot time ago. It’s unfortunate that he waited this long before attempting to prove his doubters wrong. But I think this is the wrong opponent for DeGale in terms of style, speed and talent for him to be trying to prove the doubters wrong. DeGale is one of those slick type of fighters that tries to clown his opponents. But the thing is, Dirrell does all that stuff too, and he’s arguably much better at it than DeGale is. Like I’ve said before, DeGale is a poor man’s version of Dirrell in my opinion. He does everything Dirrell does, but not nearly as good.

This Saturday’s DeGale vs. Dirrell fight will be televised on NBC on Premier Boxing Champions in the United States. A lot of fans will be in for a real treat in seeing this great match-up on a non-premium cable channel.

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