Boxing - DeGale earns world title shot with Wembley win

James DeGale became the #1 contender to the IBF super-middleweight title with a convincing fourth-round stoppage win over Brandon Gonzales.

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James DeGale (Hennessy press release)

DeGale, who recently joined Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing stable after three years of career stalling under Frank Warren and Mick Hennessy, looked focused and motivated as he picked his shots against the capable American.

The chief-support bout to Carl Froch v George Groves, to determine the next challenge for the main event’s victor, was regarded as evenly-matched and tough to call prior to the bell.

But DeGale marked his return to his home town with three rounds of cerebral and superior fighting before amping up the physicality with vicious rights and lefts in the fourth to register two knockdowns.

The second time DeGale dropped his man in the dying embers of the fourth, the referee saw no reason to allow the dazed and hurt Gonzales to take any further abuse.

“That was exactly what I wanted,” said DeGale after the fight. “I hit him with some good, clean shots and he was hurt.

“I am 100% ready for my world title shot. That was a good fighter who came to win but I am ready to fight Froch or Groves.”

Jamie McDonnell became a two-time world champion in the card’s other title showdown, dropping Thailand’s Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat with a superb left in round 10 of their battle for the vacant WBA bantamweight strap.

Rachawat remained active throughout the contest and put the Doncaster man under plenty of pressure, but constantly found himself at the mercy of McDonnell’s jab with some choice power punches landing along the way before the grandstand finish in the 10th.

McDonnell is ready to pick up where he left off after getting back into the championship bracket, saying: "It means everything to me to regain a world title. It gets me back on track and now I want a unification fight with anyone in this division.

“Don't get me wrong, he was tough and hit me with a few good shots. I could feel my cut dripping into my eye but I got out of danger.”

Kevin Mitchell was found to have exceeded the limits of his weight check on Saturday ahead of his IBF lightweight title eliminator against Ghislain Maduma, before escaping a wholly unconvincing performance with an 11th-round stoppage.

Mitchell was surely down on the judges’ scorecards when Maduma tired in the penultimate round, allowing the Londoner to capitalise with two knockdowns, ending the bout with the latter.

“We worked on that fight in the gym,” Mitchell claimed. “We knew he would get off to a fast start but I have a lot of experience and I’m eager to impress. I put the pressure on him late on and made him feel it. I could have gone 15-20 rounds in the end.”

Eddie Hearn confirmed after the bout that they hoped to ensure Mitchell gets a third world title opportunity despite the weight issue when they take the matter up with the IBF next week.

And in the card’s opener, Anthony Joshua wasted no time decimating Matt Legg to earn his sixth professional win from six – all of which have come inside two rounds.

London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Joshua hit two nasty-looking short uppercuts on his way to dropping Legg for the stoppage win after just 83 seconds.

Joshua said afterward: "I feel I can step up. I haven't gone past two rounds as a pro yet. I could do with the experience. Maybe I will have a better opponent on July 12 in Liverpool."

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