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DeGale dedicates his win to Darren

PUBLISHED: 15:26 04 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:46 24 August 2010

By Ben Kosky JAMES DeGale paid tribute to his late rival Darren Sutherland after beating Ally Morrison in Liverpool to claim his fourth straight victory as a professional. DeGale fought Sutherland six times at amateur level, defeating him in last year s O

By Ben Kosky

JAMES DeGale paid tribute to his late rival Darren Sutherland after beating Ally Morrison in Liverpool to claim his fourth straight victory as a professional.

DeGale fought Sutherland six times at amateur level, defeating him in last year's Olympic semi-final in Beijing, and had hoped to renew that rivalry in the paid ranks.

But those plans were ended when Sutherland was found dead at home last month, at the age of just 27, and DeGale dedicated his third-round win on Friday to the Irishman.

"Darren Sutherland was a very talented fighter and he was guaranteed to go on and do great things in this sport," said the 23-year-old Harlesden star.

"We had a healthy, competitive rivalry, but with a lot of mutual respect and it would never have been a grudge match if we'd been able to meet in the ring again.

"It affected me a great deal when I heard the news - it's so sad not just for British and Irish boxing, but world boxing. I dedicate this fight to Darren Sutherland - rest in peace."

DeGale underlined his continuing development with a flawless display at the Echo Arena, looking slick and sharp as he took immediate control against Morrison and never relinquished it.

The Cumbrian was unable to get anywhere near DeGale, who peppered him with shots to both the head and body throughout the first round of a scheduled six.

Although Morrison competed better in the second round, it was DeGale who remained well on top, darting around and unleashing quick punches - and the end came only 45 seconds into round three.

A savage left-hander caught Morrison, who staggered, and DeGale moved in for the kill with another two lefts, prompting referee Howard Foster to halt the contest.

The former Dale Youth Club amateur will now be aiming to make it five out of five when he fights on the undercard of Amir Khan's WBA world light-welterweight title defence against Dimitriy Salita in Newcastle next month.

"It was tough, but it's going to take a better fighter to beat me," DeGale added. "I'm learning quickly, I'm hitting much harder and I know where I'm going.

"All Frank Warren's big fighters have fought in Newcastle - Naseem Hamed and Joe Calzaghe, for instance - and I'm really looking forward to it."

Meanwhile, DeGale's former Dale Youth team-mate George Groves is back in action for the third time in five weeks when he faces Konstantin Makhankov on Saturday in Nuremberg.

Groves has won all six of his professional bouts to date, but this will be the first time he has fought outside the UK and the Belarussian number one is likely to represent his hardest test so far.

The 10-round contest will be screened live on Sky Box Office ahead of the main event - David Haye's attempt to wrest the WBA world heavyweight title from Nikolay Valuev.

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