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Falling Away: James DeGale Stands Still After Easy Win Over Dyah Davis


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Hoping to make a noise Saturday night, and in doing so, gain ground on domestic front runners Carl Froch and George Groves, James DeGale, once the biggest din in England, boxed in a vacuum instead -- despite the fight going out on national TV. While the American Andre Ward put further daylight between himself and the rest of the super middleweight field in an HBO-televised rout over the Dominican Republic’s Edwin Rodriguez, and as Froch and Groves prepare to embark upon a pay-per-view bonanza in Manchester next weekend, DeGale, 17-1, 11 KOs, was forced to settle for a muted points decision over unheralded Floridian Dyah Davis, 22-4-1, 10 KOs, that unfolded at an out-of-town shopping centre in Greenhithe, Kent.

Davis, bearing only a flickering resemblance to father Howard -- who British fans may recall failed in his tilt at Jim Watt’s lightweight world title in Glasgow a third of a century ago -- was left hitting fresh air for most of his visit -- save for a straight right hand in round eight that bloodied the home fighter’s nose. After a quick gear change and a couple of deftly inserted cotton buds, however, DeGale quickly restored order and ran out an easy winner across the board via scores of 118-110 (10 rounds to two).

In the main, the Harlesden southpaw managed to slip, slide, pepper and outland Davis in a functional exhibition that might have been permissible had he been in Ward’s position at the top of the heap. For as long as “Chunky’s” situation remains to the contrary, though, he badly needs to create a spark in contests such as this one in order to avoid being maginalised as a tricky but unrewarding option for those in a position to offer him a leg up.

After blaming a clutch of lacklustre showings on a knee injury that had stymied his ability to move -- and DeGale can really motor around a ring when he’s on song -- he was hampered this time around by a miserable mishmash of styles. The abiding sound of the evening was not one of a home crowd roaring their man on to greater deeds but rather the fighters’ feet creeping across the ring boards -- which is the boxing equivalent of a pin dropping.

Impatient when probed about a prospective world title shot, the Londoner will usually defer to promoter Mick Hennessy with a shrug of his shoulders and a brusque: “Ask Mick.” Pointedly, his response last night had descended into a weary: “Mick…please?”

While Hennessy could only seek to bide time with a politician’s rhetoric, DeGale was left to muster: “It was alright,” in relation to his performance. "Alright" has rarely been enough in the entertainment industry, which boxing has ever more in common with these days than it does a sport. DeGale is going to have to rocket up the back straight in 2014 or risk being confined to the chasing pack indefinitely -- nothing more than a gold-tinged fleck in the rear view mirror of champion Ward.




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