Tears of joy flowed on Saturday night.

As James DeGale and trainer Jim McDonnell hugged in the changing room after completing their quest to create history, the magnitude of the situation simply overwhelmed them both.

Becoming the first Briton to follow up winning Olympic gold by scooping a world title was a wonderful achievement in itself.

Yet to be crowned the IBF super-middleweight champion was the coup de grace not only for the 29 year-old but for McDonnell, the 56 year-old Londoner who tried yet failed to reach the heights his beloved protégé scaled here at the Agganis Arena.

“It got emotional in the changing room, “revealed promoter Eddie Hearn.

“Jim is so close to James, he is obsessed with him. Jim said in front of everyone how he never won a world title as a fighter himself but he feels like he’s won one now through James. Everyone was choked up.“

And why not?

After all, there was a lot to celebrate at the end of an intriguing, at times dramatic, fight which saw a unanimous decision fall in favour of the Beijing Olympic champion who managed to  convince the judges he was deserving of the title he’s always dreamed about.

How Canada’s Alan Davis decided DeGale triumphed 117 -109 will puzzle everyone for the rest of eternity.

It was much closer than that.
Indeed, the other two scores of 114-112 were far more accurate

Dirrell was rocked in the second by a thumping left hook and then a flurry of punches from the Brit who continued to attack with menace.Yet as the bout wore on, his advantage was diminished thanks to combination of the American’s pure boxing skills and a desperation from DeGale not to lose.

The stats showed that the Londoner managed to outpunch Dirrell 18-15 in the final two rounds though there was very little in it. His positivity in the first half of the fight ultimately sealed the finest night of his life.

So what next? Naturally, DeGale was talking exuberantly in the aftermath. Carl Froch’s name cropped up, as did bitter rival George Groves who dealt him the only defeat of his career in 2011. The imperious looking Kazakh Gennady Golovkin was also mentioned.

Hearn will work on the opponent yet all DeGale desires is a night under the lights in the capital.  He deserves it too.
As the Londoner returned from a hospital visit to alleviate a cut under his right eye , he was mobbed by fans and family who were desperate to show their appreciation, making it easy to forget this is a fighter who , despite striking gold in Beijing, was booed in his second professional bout and has been unable to  win everyone over since.

This triumph , however,  may have turned the tables for good. 

“I was a little bit worried. I was looking at Jim and he had the same face that he did after I boxed Groves and I thought ‘not again’, but when they announced it, it was the best feeling in the world, “ admitted DeGale.

“I just didn’t want to take too many chances, because he was sharp and such a good fighter. He’s very hard to hit.

“I think everyone was under-estimating Andre Dirrell, he’s a hell of a fighter. People won’t accept how good I am until I retire, when I have achieved what I have and unified the titles.”
Dirrell’s only previous loss was to Nottingham’s Froch in a similarly close contest back in 2009. The man whose IBF title will be paraded before the FA Cup final between DeGale’s beloved Arsenal next weekend is unlikely to end a year out with attempting to wrestle his title back.

“If Froch thinks he is that good then why doesn’t he fight me?. I would be the perfect fight for him to come back. If I was Froch, I’d stay well away from me,” added the Londoner.

“I’m looking at Froch and he had his chance, he gave up his belt for me to fight for it. I want the big fights, the bigger the better.

“Mikkel Kessler , George Groves, Golovkin. They can come to me.

“I’d love to fight at Wembley again and this time headline the show instead of being chief support…that would be a dream.

“I’m looking forward to my homecoming fight. I want a big stadium in London.”

With Groves fighting Badou Jack for the WBA belt in September, DeGale will have to look elsewhere for a first title defence.

Yet his camp are unflustered. They are just enjoying the moment.

“One of the most pleasing things is that he’s getting a lot of support now, “ added Hearn.

“He’s a nice kid. In the Groves build-up in 2009, and I didn’t know him then, I was thinking ‘what an idiot.’ I told him that and unfortunately that all stayed with him for years and years.

“In the last year because people have seen another side to him and he has grown up as well . Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that he won in America, the support he has had on social media has been quite emphatic. Now he can come home as a hero

“It’s all worked out perfectly.”


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