James DeGale scores unpopular unanimous decision over Lucien Bute to retain IBF title

James DeGale scores unpopular unanimous decision over Lucien Bute to retain IBF title

Main pic: Lucian Bute reacts when they announce his loosing in a fight for Super Middleweight IBF world championship against James DeGale, in Quebec City, on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. DeGale won the bout. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot. 

QUEBEC — James DeGale retained his IBF super-middleweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over former champion Lucian Bute of Montreal in an action packed battle that left the crowd booing the scores from judges who saw the Briton as the clear winner.

DeGale (22-1-0) made a successful first defence of the title he won in May from American Andre Dirrell in Boston.

British judge Phil Edwards and Canadian Benoit Roussel each had it 117-111 and Puerto Rican Nelson Vazquez had it 116-112, all for DeGale. The Canadian press had it a 114-114 draw.

A raucous, pro-Bute crowd at the Videotron Centre saw a remade challenger, one who abandoned his former — almost elegant style — for that of a predator, always in motion and moving in on the attack.

DeGale, who was bleeding over the left eye from the fifth round, countered with quick bursts of shots, although Bute’s chin, which has been in question in recent years, held up. DeGale was also warned twice for elbowing.

Bute (32-3-0) held the IBF title for five years before a crushing fifth-round loss in England to Carl Froch. His career looked close to an end with three mediocre fights in the next three years, but he looked to be back as a top-level super-middleweight against DeGale.

The co-feature saw Eleider (Storm) Alvarez (19-0-0) win a majority decision over Malawi native Isaac Chilemba (24-3-2) in a close-fought battle between two champion jabbers. One ringside judge had it 114-114 while the others scored it 118-110 and 115-113 for Alvarez.

Alvarez, a Colombian based in Montreal, becomes the mandatory challenger to WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson of Montreal.

Meanwhile, at ringside, Stevenson and Russian Sergey Kovalev had a brief chat and Kovalev later tweeted about a possible unification showdown in June. No other details were yet released. Kovalev’s camp has accused Stevenson of ducking tough opponents.

Stevenson is WBC champ, while Kovalev has the titles from the other fight sanctioning bodies.

Custio Clayton (5-0) of Halifax knocked down Ivan Pereyra (20-6-0) of Mexico at the end of the first round and twice more in the second before the referee stopped their scheduled eight-round light middleweight bout.

Adrian Granados (17-4-2) picked himself up off the canvas in the first round and stopped fellow American Amir Imam (18-1) in the eighth in an upset victory.

Light middleweight Sebatien Bouchard (11-1-0) of Baie-St-Paul, Que., stopped Guiseppe Lauri (55-18-0) of Italy 39 seconds into the second round of a scheduled six-rounder. Lauri has lost 11 of his last 14 fights.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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