The calendar might have just rolled into January, but the highly-touted super middleweight matchup between world champions Badou Jack and James DeGale had “Fight of the Year” written all over it from its announcement.
Once inside the ring, it was DeGale that took a decisive early lead through the first five rounds—sparked by the southpaw’s stiff knockdown late in Round 1 as he lifted Jack off his feet with a straight left hand.
Jack began his comeback in Round 6 as he buried hooks into DeGale’s body and landed a right uppercut that drove the Brit into the ropes. Even referee Arthur Mercante got into the action as he accidently caught the tail end of a wide left hook by Jack at the bell.
By Round 9, Jack had worked his way back to even on two of the judges’ scorecards, and in the final round, the Las Vegas resident by way of Sweden landed a solid left hook that sent DeGale to the canvas for the first time in his career.
The fight ultimately went to the scorecards and was ruled a majority draw. While the outcome didn’t offer much satisfaction to the fighters or fans—or clarity within the 168-pound division—the intense back-and-forth action proved to be plenty worthy of our pick for Fight of the Year.