DeGale labours to points victory over Zuniga
James DeGale took another step towards fighting for a world title by defeating Fulgencio Zuniga after Hull's Bonus Arena with a unanimous points victory in a bout that somehow went the full 12 rounds.
In an initially one-sided fight, DeGale waited to see what Colombian Zuniga brought to the ring before really going on the offensive in the second and third rounds.
But the Brit could not capitalise on his superiority and Zuniga kept coming back for more, forcing DeGale to seek refuge on the ropes at times.
By the 11th and 12th rounds, despite Zuniga having been on the floor and visiting most parts of the ring in a daze, the 35-year-old multi-weight battler was in the ascendancy.
DeGale's fast footwork was nowhere to be seen as Zuniga bossed him around the ring but the Briton offered a last flurry of punches and ultimately took the win, with all three judges scoring the fight 118-109 in his favour.
The 26-year-old from Harlesden said he would have to box clever in the build-up to this fight but his discipline waned in the face of Zuniga's resistance, even if his form and power punching were major talking points afterwards.
DeGale decided to shadow Zuniga in the first round, letting the Colombian come to him and replying with only sporadic combinations. The second round saw DeGale go for Zuniga with a few wild swings but he managed to put his opponent on the floor, although he did seem to slip.
By the third the Brit was fully in the ascendancy, Zuniga was landing his punches from his crouched stance but he was taking far too many from DeGale, who attacked for a relentless minute towards the end of the round.
The bell saved Zuniga and the pace slowed down in the following stanzas; DeGale certain he had the beating of his opponent but choosing to take his time rather than any risks.
Yet multi-weight boxer Zuniga kept on coming and took an immense number of punches, most forcefully from DeGale's left fist. By the end of the eighth round, DeGale had dropped his guard as Zuniga's attacks arrived without conviction but the Londoner still could not finish the job.
In the final four rounds Zuniga showed a spark, but DeGale had done more than enough to earn a unanimous decision on points.
His next fight is a defence of his European super-middleweight title in January against Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye and 2013 could see him fight as many as six bouts with his aim being to earn a world title shot.
Earlier in London, Barnet fighter Darren Barker beat Kerry Hope after the Welshman's trainer threw in the towel in the fourth round.
Barker clearly carried greater power in his punches but Hope was light on his feet and avoided any serious blows in the opening three rounds.
But then his luck ran out and he was knocked to the floor by a right hook straight after an uppercut. He returned to his feet to take three more punches before the towel came to his rescue.
Barker landed an incredible 43 head shots in the three and a half rounds as he picked up the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title and put a 14-month black period of injuries and low confidence behind him.