DeGale halts Khatchikian to set up WBC shot
James DeGale (18-1) could be challenging for the WBC super middleweight championship in his next fight after a confident display against Gevorg Khatchikian (20-1), stopping the formerly unbeaten Armenian in the eleventh round on Saturday night at the City Academy, Bristol.
In the opener, DeGale (12st) put pressure on Khatchikian (11st 10lbs) and got through with a couple of cuffing jab-cum-hooks which Khatchikian looked embarrassed to have eaten, but the Armenian was more aggressive and industrious in the second. A head clash opened a cut above DeGale’s left eye, and he got caught with a few counters in the third, but turned on the style for the remainder of the round, switching for southpaw to orthodox repeatedly.
Khatchikian had moments of success in the fourth too, but DeGale seemed content to walk through his shots and made a fast start to the fifth and sixth rounds, which he dominated.
Khatchikian’s brightest spell came in the seventh, when he put DeGale in retreat and got through with an uppercut and a right hand counter which started a brief period of control, taking the round with DeGale on the back foot.
The Olympic champion made a tentative, back foot start to the eighth, but was soon on the advance again and had a busy round which saw Khatchikian in trouble on the ropes with DeGale launching rhythmic shots and looking for a finish.
Mark Green had another look towards the end of the ninth when Khatchikian’s head was rocked back by fast combinations, but the visitor gamely came forward in the tenth and DeGale cruised, waving him on and slipping his shots with hands down at distance. DeGale produced an eye-catching counter left which spun Khatchikian around, and was having little trouble avoiding the Armenian's shots.
Khatchikian had proved much tougher than expected, but in the eleventh, DeGale stepped it up and placed a right hook to the body which finally put Khatchikian down. He rose at eight, and DeGale followed up with another right hook to the body to send him down again. Referee Mark Green waved it off as he rose at 2.58.
DeGale was set to face his mandatory challenger Badou Jack, but he suffered a first round knockout loss to Dereck Edwards on Friday night. As a result, DeGale could now get a shot at WBC titlist Sakio Bika.