James DeGale defeated Andre Dirrell to become the new IBF super-middleweight champion in Boston on Saturday and immediately called for the best in the division next.
DeGale defeats Dirrell: (Video) Second round knockdown key to fight.
DeGale vs Dirrell head-to-head: (Video) Heated exchange at weigh-in on Friday.
Why DeGale will become champion: Chunky destined to make history.
In what turned out to be a close fight, DeGale had his rival on the floor three times in a critical round two which ultimately decided the bout in his favour.
The American ace fought back brilliantly after recovering from the sixth round onwards to ensure that the scores were close on two judges scorecards, but he didn’t do enough to turn it around entirely as ‘Chunky’ held and produced a late flurry to edge it.
As a result, DeGale created history by becoming the first British Olympic gold medallist to become a world champion in the professional ranks, and he certainly looked overjoyed and overwhelmed by the situation in his post-fight interview.
The 29-year-old paid tribute to his opponent and described him as a “skilled, world-class fighter”, even suggesting that Dirrell is arguably the third best super-middleweight in the world.
However, he was delighted with realising his dream of becoming a world champion and was adamant that he did enough in the fight to earn the win.
With bitter rival George Groves set to fight Badou Jack for the WBC strap later this year, a rematch between the pair would be a huge domestic showdown next summer potentially at Wembley.
Nevertheless, DeGale is setting his sighs high as he even suggested that he would love the opportunity of a unification fight against Andre Ward if it was possible.
Ward returns to the ring after a long lay-off against Paul Smith in Oakland on June 20.