Badou Jack turned in about three-fourths of a sterling performance Saturday on Showtime against Lucian Bute, who had been resurgent but found his offense stymied and ribcage pummeled for most of the 12 rounds. And then the bout ended with, somehow, a draw.
The doubleheader also saw James DeGale in the ring as a preview for a potential showdown with Jack, and Jack outdid DeGale against Bute. Bute built his resurgence, in fact, with a quality showing in a loss to DeGale, but he could never get it going against Jack. The draw probably doesn’t inhibit Jack-DeGale happening, perhaps in the fall.
Jack is an improving fighter, one who bounced back from a loss a couple years ago to make a case as the class of, or nearly the class of, the super middleweight division. He was extremely accurate Saturday instead of just throwing in volume, fired his punches off at just the right time and then returned his gloves to defense in a millisecond — plus used intelligent footwork to affect Bute’s spacing, making it hard for him to fire. And Bute’s power was robbed by a sapping body attack, Jack’s speciality.
When Bute did have some success, it was when he moved his hands, pitty-pat style, like in the 6th and 10th; the rhythm created by this flow led to some landing, and Jack freezing. Bute could not land his own once-trademark body punches, or at least, none of note.
The three-fourths part featured Jack slowing late and getting tagged in the 11th with painful-looking uppercuts. The assault continued in the 12th, although this time Jack clinched more to avoid taking as much fire. The judge who had it 117-111 Jack was on point. The two judges who had it 114-114… huh? Floyd Mayweather, Jack’s promoter, came into the ring afterward to complain. Bute wouldn’t say directly that he thought he deserved the draw when asked.
On the other side of the potential future match-up, DeGale held up his end of the bargain via unanimous decision, but not without his struggles against Rogelio Medina. DeGale started well enough, moving and sharp-shooting from funky angles. But before long Medina had DeGale on the ropes, and once there, Medina owned him.
The two traded turns controlling rounds — DeGale at ring’s center, Medina at the outskirts — with many of them extremely close. Both worked up and down and threw a high volume of punches. Mostly, Medina outworked DeGale but DeGale was more accurate. By the end of the fight, DeGale’s face looked worse for the wear, but Medina, save a big surge in the 11th, faded worse.
The scorecards of 115-113 for DeGale were fine; this write scored it a draw. The announced 117-111 scorecard was way off, the corrected 116-112 less so. DeGale suffers a little here for how he managed Medina compared to Jack, who knocked him out. DeGale sort of hinted that controversial strength and conditioning coach Memo Heredia might’ve given Medina some illicit aid. Either way, DeGale needs to be better next time if he’s going to beat Jack or someone on that level.
There’s a chance the winner of DeGale-Jack could be crowned the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board champion, depending on how the Board votes about a potential upgrade for Jack to #2. But the fight is a pretty good one on paper, even without that enhancement.