Gold medalist DeGale wins pro debut
BIRMINGHAM, England -- Olympic middleweight gold medalist James DeGale won his first pro fight Saturday night, a dominating points win over Vepkhia Tchilaia.
Despite winning each round, jeers rang out at the National Indoor Arena as Britain's lone boxing champion from the Beijing Games failed to provide the excitement sections of the crowd were demanding.
"I had to track him down and bang him around and it was tough," DeGale said. "I'm never happy with my performances -- even at the Olympics -- that was just 30 percent of me."
A systematic approach lacking urgency was adopted against the 21-year-old Georgian, who dropped to 9-9. The tactical fight was a stark contrast to DeGale's sloppy Olympic gold medal bout with Cuba's Emilio Correa.
"It was a learning curve. What do you want me to do?" DeGale said. "I don't want to be silly and get knocked out. He's running, he's tucking up. I still had a couple of good shots.
"You lot are going to see the best of me when someone is there and wants it just as much as me."
DeGale's former Olympic teammates Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders also started their pro careers with wins.
Gavin, the former world amateur light-heavyweight champion whose medal chances in Beijing were ruined when he had weight problems going into the games, stopped George Kadaria in the fourth and final round.
The 19-year-old Saunders enjoyed a second-round stoppage victory over Attila Molnar of Hungary.
A left-right to Molnar's head in the second prompted him to step up the assault with further attacks to the head. When a string of blows landed on a target who was barely moving, the referee stepped in with Molnar on his feet.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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