James DeGale: The Underachiever that Achieved Everything
By: Oliver McManus
“I just didn’t do enough”, the immediate verdict from James DeGale following his loss to Chris Eubank Jr. Talking to Gabriel Clarke he offered a neat characterisation of not only the fight in question but DeGale’s underwhelming professional career as a whole.
No-one can dispute the natural talent of Hammersmith’s premier boxing product but did we ever see the realisation of his capability as a pugilist?
Having turned professional with an Olympic gold medal freshly around his neck expectations were high. And rightly so. This is a man who had already cultivated a reputation, partly in thanks to his six-fight amateur series with Darren Sutherland, and EU Silver and Commonwealth Bronze medals also adorning his trophy cabinet. Such promise saw a, reported, £1.5million contract thrown his way by Frank Warren.
From the off DeGale seemed to be up against it with his debut fight – in February 2009, against Vephkia Tchilaia – being met with a splattering of disapproval due to the fact it lasted the full four rounds. Nothing particularly untowards about a shut-out win against a defensive journeyman but, for DeGale, he was expected to do better. He always has been, he was the talent of a generation.
Developed quickly, it would be in his ninth fight that Chunky planted a marker by knocking out Paul Smith – an established figure by the time of the bout – in the ninth round to rip away the British super-middleweight title. Perhaps, then, now was the time to sit back in expectation. From here on would be the time for judgement. The first occasion in which we could evaluate the progress of DeGale arrived shortly after with a grudge-match against George Groves.
Himself a graduate of Dale Youth, Groves had been forging a career of his own under the guidance, for a while, of Adam Booth. Crunch time came on May 21st and we all know how the fight fared. Close on the scorecards – 115-115, 115-114, 115-114 in favour of Groves – it was a gritty chess match if ever there was one. Groves utilising the superior movement and leading with a steady jab whilst DeGale sought to counter-punch. No disgrace in losing the contest.
The buildup to the bout showed, ultimately, a flaw from DeGale in failing to capitalise on his, how shall we say, less than warm personality. Personal as it sounds, it’s not a criticism of who he is but rather how he marketed himself. It was painfully clear that DeGale never really cared to be liked and, for him, boxing was about results not building a fan base. He said what he genuinely thought and in a manner only he could. What he didn’t do, however, was embrace his role as a villain.
In contests such as the one with Groves, you’re never going to out-talk or out-smart the opponent so there was no point in trying to do so. Even though Groves didn’t cover himself in glory, either, it was the older statesman who, ultimately, came across as churlish and arrogant. Not through some designed act in order to goad Groves or generate publicity but because of a desire to strike his own ego.
That prioritisation of self-satisfaction was evident from his attempts to crack the American market. Not that, in itself, that’s an issue but he never did ‘crack’ it despite his repeated success. Credit where credit is due, DeGale went to the States and won the IBF super-middleweight title, against Andre Dirrell, in the best win of his career. Two fights later and he was lined up for a unification with Badou Jack. At the time an imperious force to be reckoned with – how the years have seen him stutter in stardom – Jack was a foreboding test but one that DeGale rose to. A majority draw against the Swedish fighter that, hindsight suggests, took it firmly out of the British man.
It can certainly be claimed that performances on foreign soil never attract the same glamour or acclaim as they perhaps deserve but DeGale didn’t look on full form against Dirrell or, in subsequent defences, Lucian Bute (in Canada) and Rogelio Medina. The ambition for a fight, throughout his career, against a true behemoth of boxing such as Carl Froch and Andre Ward seemed to exist in verbals only. Imagine that – Ward vs DeGale. It’s frightening. Then, I guess, that’s why this article has come about. Perhaps the real James DeGale is still wandering around lost in Beijing and the man we’ve seen is just a poor imitation. In seriousness it isn’t only a case of never seeing the full potential of the man – and there are extenuating circumstances around that from lifestyle to injury – it is more the acceptance of mediocrity that pains me the most.
Lost in his own illustrious loyalty, a long term allegiance to trainer Jim McDonnell may well have proven to be the sticking point for Chunky. That doesn’t mean McDonnell is a bad trainer and far from it but after repeated performances where nothing seems to be clicking or flowing with fluidity then the clues are there that it might be time for a change. After a career of disappointing performances the message should have been blindingly obvious. Make a change, try something new. Nothing is stopping you from reverting back to the old afterwards.
Yet throughout his career you got the impression that for James DeGale simply being a belt holder was adequate, his stake at supremacy. An ever present frustration for British boxing fans was the fact that we never saw quite how good he could be yet we all had an idea of just how irreproachable his abilities were. Against Chris Eubank Jr, then, at the weekend we saw a laboured version of the man we, certainly I, admired. If that was the final act for the two-time world champion then, to be frank, I don’t think I want to see the encore.
The first British fighter to win Olympic Gold to go on to claim world glory in the professional ranks. Not just that but a British, European and International champion – across three governing bodies – he really did have a career to reflect on with pride. You suspect, though, the history books will likely not remember him in the fondest of terms for, such was his ability and promise, James DeGale never did quite enough.
Showtime Boxing Results: Eubank Defeats DeGale, Joyce Batters Stiverne
By: Ste Rowen
Chris Eubank Jr forced himself into the super-middleweight world scene tonight with a deserved unanimous decision victory over former world champion, James DeGale.
Now improving his record to 28-2 (21KOs), the victor spoke post-fight,
‘‘I knew he was gonna come in there and run and use his boxing skills. I’ve been working a lot on my jab…The game plan worked. Smart pressure. Not getting too ahead of myself.
I dominated pretty much every single round…A lot of people said I was gonna lose, and now I’m onto big and better things.’’
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
The defeated DeGale, now 25-3-1 (15KOs), sounding a little dazed also spoke, ‘‘I’ve left my mark in boxing…I didn’t do enough, but when you’re in there with someone like Chris on you; punches you don’t even see.
I’ve been to the heights of boxing. If I call it a day now…’’
It was cold in the O2 Arena, but not for long.
As James DeGale vs. Chris Eubank Jr drew nearer, the atmosphere felt more claustrophobic. As though the crowd was inching their seats forwards every time the stewards looked away. By the time the main-event fighters were in the ring, the audience was practically breathing down their necks.
From the 1st round it was setup perfectly, DeGale in all-black, Eubank in all-white but both decided to size each other up through the first. DeGale, in the southpaw stance, allowed himself to become a little too susceptible to Eubank’s right hand which forced a small cut to James’ left eye early on.
The first minute of round 2 is where the action came alive. Eubank Jr landed a sharp left hook that unsteadied DeGale and, through a flurry of punches, eventually forced the referee into recognising that James had been knocked down. DeGale’s experience was telling as he survived the rest of the round, but it was obvious that Chris was well on top.
In the corner, the former IBF champion was complaining about something in his eye – it was a bad sign for a man already behind. But Eubank, like his opponent, sustained a cut this time under his right eye, it didn’t stop the Brighton-man from ending the 4th the stronger. Through to the 7th, Eubank stalked the perceived boxer across the ring whilst the former gold medallist did very little to reply.
As round 7 ended, DeGale stuck his tongue out to his opponent, which was an odd move considering Chris seemingly bossed the end of the round. DeGale kept switching between southpaw and orthodox, but neither was breaking through.
As the fight headed into the 10th Eubank seemed well on top. DeGale hit the canvas for the second time as Eubank landed a beauty of a left hook that shook up the former world champion, forced James onto the ropes and eventually the ground. DeGale survived, but it was clear he needed the KO, but it was Eubank Jr that came out swinging. By the end of the 11th, career-southpaw DeGale was orthodox and everywhere.
Both fighters raised their arms as the final bell rang but it seemed cleared who’d won. DeGale, the legitimate former world title holder had fallen well short.
Of course it’s never a chore to hear Jimmy Lennon Jr and it wasn’t this time as he read out the judge’s cards of, 114-112, 115-112, 117-109 all for Eubank Jr.
Joe Joyce vs. Bermane Stiverne
Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce took another step up in quality tonight as the British Olympian (2016 Silver) scored a 6th round stoppage of former world champion, Bermane Stiverne.
Dominant from beginning to end, the Commonwealth champion, now 8-0 (8KOs), spoke post-fight,
‘‘Big respect to Stiverne. He was very tough, still game, still tough. Only Wilder with that phenomenal power could take him out…My able condition in Big Bear.
Big things to come. Next one for the WBA ‘Regular’. Couple of weeks off and then back in the gym…I’ve barred all (The top heavyweights) bar Wilder, but I’m coming.’’
In a fight designated as a WBA eliminator Joyce had his chin checked at least twice in the 1st round but seemed unaffected and continued to pursue his prey. His shots may look slow, but Joe’s arms are long and thudding once landed and clearly leave an effect. Stiverne looked apprehensive as he stepped off his stool for the 2nd however he did begin to throw back, but only for a brief spell. The ‘Juggernaut’ fired clubbing shot after clubbing shot without reply for most of the round. Testament to the former world champion, Bermane for staying upright.
Round 3 brought the first knockdown as Joyce landed a lengthy right hook that sent the American into the ropes and forced the knockdown. Bermane continued but it felt pointless. Stiverne looked drunk as he tried to evade Joyce’s heavy combinations but survived into the 6th.
Joe dominated behind the left-hand jab until he seemed to switch flavour and fired hook and power shot continuously, forcing referee Howard Foster into stopping the fight midway through round six. There were no complaints from the away fighter.
Lee Selby vs. Omar Douglas
Fighting in his first lightweight bout, and for a minor title at 135lb, Lee ‘Lightning’ Selby bounced back from his May 2018 defeat to Josh Warrington to rough it out in a twelve round unanimous decision victory over American, Omar Douglas.
‘‘That was one of the toughest.’’ Selby said. ‘‘In the fight I kept on undoing their (His cut-men’s) good work.
Douglas was supposed to be a big puncher and I held his shots well…If my management says I’m fighting Anthony Joshua tomorrow, I wouldn’t turn it down.’’
In his signature white and gold shorts, Selby of Wales, forced an energetic start onto the American. Lee clearly wanted to make an early impression in what was a new division for him. Douglas’ dreads (white at the start but red by the end) were wrapped up much like his hands, so every time Selby landed a clean jab, Omar’s head fired back and made him look like Ridley Scott’s Alien.
But towards the end of round two a bloody cut on the eye of Lee Selby opened up, much like in his fight vs. Warrington. It didn’t stutter his performance for that round, but it did create a new element to the fight. The Welshman continued to fire off well, despite the cut, but it was clear Lee wasn’t as urgent in his offence as before the cut.
Omar has spent his career bouncing between 130-135 and as the rounds drew on he was giving Lee, who’d jumped 9lb in weight, a rough entry into the lightweight division. By the time of the final bell it was close as well as clear that ‘Lightning’ had taken the rough alleyway to enter 135lb.
Final scorecards were 116-112, 116-112, 115-114 all in favour of Lee Selby.
Showtime Boxing Preview: DeGale vs. Eubank Jr.
By: Ste Rowen
Two Brits from the South of England, both lay claim to being former World champions – James ‘Chunky’ DeGale with the IBF and Chris Eubank Jr with the suspect IBO; and each with a defeat to George Groves on their record, the pair have seemed to be on a collision course to meet in the ring for a while, even when DeGale was the IBF king at super-middleweight and Eubank was a lowly 160lb challenger.
On Saturday night at London’s O2 Arena, they finally meet.
From the sparring stories to the trash talk, it’s been a bout that’s been a long time coming,
‘‘This is my second coming I promise you.’’ James, 25-2-1 (15KOs), told ITV. ‘‘95% of people think I’m on the decline. I can’t wait for this fight…I know what’s left in myself…He thinks I’m not ready. He thinks he’s gonna get me late on. He’s in for a big surprise.
He came down to spar me, done 6-8 rounds, I can’t even remember…Then the next day he went on social media and said, ‘I schooled James DeGale blah, blah, blah.’ Crazy stuff.
He’s not that good but boy can he fight…I’m too fast, I’m too strong, I’m too big, I’m too smart.’’
This time last year ‘Chunky’ was in preparations to avenge his 2017 decision defeat to Caleb Truax in which he lost the IBF belt he’d held on to for over two years. It also ruined his homecoming as it was his first fight in England for three years. But the Olympic gold medallist bounced back four months later, beating crowd favourite, Truax to settle the demons of their first fight.
DeGale’s recent record might be mixed but his title run from defeating Andre Dirrell to the infamous majority draw with Badou Jack, prove that James has the style and strength to back up his claims that he’s still got it. Although injuries have plagued him, and it was a massive shame for him and the tournament that he was injured before the super-middleweight World Boxing Super Series got going.
Chris Eubank Jr has promised to retire his opponent but although his opponent is almost definitely in the home stretch of his career, Chris is going to need a career best performance to take the win. 27-2 (21KOs), the Brighton-native’s recent career has also been a bit of a mixed bag.
His last five fights have included victories over Renold Quinlan and veteran, Arthur Abraham to win and then defend the IBO 168lb strap. Unlike Saturday’s opponent, Eubank Jr did enter the WBSS, firstly knocking out unbeaten Turk, Avni Yildrim before his fortunes changed and he lost for the second time in his pro career when, in a bloody affair, George Groves got the better of him over twelve rounds.
A comeback victory over JJ McDonagh in September last year meant a quiet end to 2018, but the 29-year-old is as confident as ever,
‘‘He’s got nowhere else to go, I’ve been calling him out for so long and he finally realised ‘I have to fight him.’…I can’t wait to teach him a lesson.’’
The WBSS semi-finalist also has a different view on the infamous sparring stories,
‘‘I beat him up in the 8th round. I vaulted the ropes and he got upset and he kicked me and my dad out of the gym, but in the past he’s said he made me quit.
He has the pedigree, he’s a former world champion. You can’t take that away from him, but at the level that I’m at for this fight he can’t touch me…It’s a redemption fight. I’ve trained for a 12-round fight but I’m stopping this man.’’
There’s no major title on the line this Saturday, other than the vacant IBO, but with Billy Joe Saunders making the move up to super-middle to fight for the recently vacated WBO world title in April, a huge domestic tie for this weekend’s winner should be in sight for later this year.
Saturday Night’s Undercard:
Defending his Commonwealth heavyweight title for the first time since winning it last May, Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce faces off against former WBC world champion, Bermane Stiverne.
The hype around the 9-0 (9KOs), Olympic silver medallist has cooled a little since he made lightwork of Lenroy Thomas nine months ago but victories over journeyman, Ivica Bacurin, career-cruiserweight Iago Kiladze and American Joe Hanks, have kept the winning feeling going and Joyce is once again confident of victory over Stiverne, arguably his toughest opposition to date,
‘‘He is a former world champion that has gone twelve rounds with Deontay Wilder and will give me a real challenge, but my engine and power will be too much for him.’’
Stiverne hasn’t fought since he was knocked out in the first round in a rematch with Deontay Wilder in 2017. Since then, a bout with Alexander Povetkin in Russia fell through due to the Russian failing a drug test, but despite the lengthy layoff, the former world champion feels Joyce has made a big mistake,
‘‘Seven fights and he wants to box me? For me it’s a dream come true but for Joyce it will be a nightmare. I’ll knock out Joe Joyce and step over him to KO Anthony Joshua.’’
Lee Selby vs. Marco Douglas
Also on show on Saturday will be Lee Selby 26-2 (9KOs) in his comeback fight after losing his IBF featherweight belt to Josh Warrington last May. The Welshman takes on American, Omar Douglas, 19-2 (13KOs), in Selby’s first fight at lightweight,
‘‘I’m at a new weight and feeling good. You can expect the best Lee Selby yet.’’
James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr: Make It or Break It
By: Waqas Ali
As the war of words continues, only one fighter will have his career going further on fight night and the other could contemplate retirement.
James ‘Chunky’ DeGale will be facing fellow countrymen Chris Eubank Jr at the O2 arena in London, England.
This will be the first time in eight years where DeGale will be facing a British fighter and fighting in that arena.
The bout will be for the IBO super-middleweight belt and will be broadcasted live on ITV Box Office.
The feud between the pair had been going on for more than five years but only last year had the trash talking been taken in serious consideration of a potential bout.
DeGale (25-2-1) won his IBF super-middleweight belt from Caleb Traux in a rematch last year and vacated it in July 2018 in order to pursue a bigger fight paycheck with better opposition.
The current No.5 ranked fighter by Ring Magazine did fight a journeyman named Fidel Muñoz two months after his relinquishment of the IBF title and stopped him in three rounds.
Both DeGale and Eubank Jr had been hinting the other to retire should the other man lose.
Fans of DeGale had been pointing to the fact that DeGale, 33, had lost interest in the fight game. This is in evidence of his previous performances that were shown to be competitive.
The two fights with Traux, in particular, were back and forth exchanges and at one point DeGale was cut above his right eye.
But the Hammersmith-based fighter insisted that he’s not ready to give up yet and is ready to trade shots with Eubank Jr.
He said: “There are a lot of questions hanging over it.
“Is JD shot? Am I on the decline? Is Eubank that good?
“I’m going to give him another chance to see if he’s that good, so it’s spicy.
“Going by my last couple of performances, people will probably say, ‘Yeah, he’s on the decline’, and I can see that.
“But I don’t give up, I’ve got balls, heart and desire — to mix it with the big boys and achieve what I have achieved, you have to heart.
“Eubank has a lot of good attributes. He’s tough, strong, he has a good chin, he doesn’t mind if it gets hard.
“But you need more than that to mix it at the top and become world champion.”
Eubank Jr (27-2), 29, also like DeGale came off a tough battle that questioned his ability with top-level opposition.
He lost to former WBA super-middleweight titlist George Groves in a World Super Series contest in the semi-final and was left with a massive cut in his right eye.
He then fought Irish boxer JJ McDonagh several months later and stopped in three rounds.
The current No.8 ranked Ring Magazine fighter says that DeGale will be well prepared for this all-star domestic clash but this fight could be one step closer retirement for him.
“He’s the type of fighter who rises to the occasion,” Eubank Jr said.
“If he’s got someone he doesn’t respect or fear, then that shows in his performance. He respects me and knows what’s coming, so he’s going to be on form.
“He’s had some hard fights, that’s for sure. It’s one of those things – a fight like this especially against me – could be career ending.
“I’m relentless, I don’t stop. Volume, speed, power, it’s all a dangerous combination, and he knows that.
“But the fact he knows that is why we’re going to see the best James DeGale we’ve seen for a long time.
“He knows I’m a livewire and that I’m dangerous; he knows being ill-prepared is dangerous for his health. I don’t think he’s going to put himself in that position.”
From what the boxing world thinks in the outcome of this fight, the majority have it for Degale.
According to a poll conducted by Boxing News, 55% of voters chose Degale to win on points, 10% by KO and only 21% for Eubank Jr by decision.
But what are the stats, stakes and solutions for each fighter?
Degale stands at 6 feet 0 inches and a reach of 74”. In his last six fights, he’s won four, lost one and drew one. He is a southpaw and his style consists of being an effective counterpuncher. He throws numerous shots to the body and often counters to the head with a left uppercut. Though his knockout ratio stands at a rate of 54%, he does have the ability to knock fighters down.
In terms of the numbers, DeGale throws around 46 punches and lands around 17. His connect rate is at 37% while the average super-middleweight connects at 30% and throws around 53 punches. By the power punches, DeGale lands at 13 with a connect percentage of 43%. While the average super-middleweight lands around 11 with a connect percentage of 37.
Eubank Jr has a reach of 72” and a height of 5 feet 11 inches. His knockout ratio (73%) stands much higher than DeGale’s and in his last six bouts, he won five and lost one. Out of his five wins, four were by KO/stoppages.
Eubank Jr has ferocious speed and ability when it comes to letting his hands go. He is more of an inside fighter and trades with right hands, left hooks and uppercuts. He does lack the power ability of a one-punch knockout finish. This is opposite to his Father Chris Eubank Sr who was known to be a knockout finisher. From a viewing point, Eubank Jr tends to throw a frequent amount of power punches that do not result in a knockout finish but rather a stoppage.
However, by the numbers, Eubank Jr, is highly active. Considering the fact that he throws around 61 punches and lands 21 with a connect rate of 34%. In the power punching department, he lands around 15 with a connect rate of 43%. His opponents landed just 4.4 power punches per round which is less than half the super middleweight average and landing at just 14%. He also likes to provide a bit of showmanship or as others would call it showboating. This can be a psychological factor that is often done by Eubank Jr and many fans find it detesting from their point of view.
Judging by the numbers for both fighters, Eubank Jr has a good activity level and accuracy both in total punches and the power punching rate.
His punches can be as grilling as a chef cooking a grilled chicken. It can be an unbearable amount of heat to take.
For DeGale, one must be aware that his opponents have landed 34% of their power shots on him.
In this particular context, the defence would need improving. This could mean he an easy target to hit – considering the inside exchanges. Based on the whole fight, both fighters know this is a make or break for them. The stakes are high and both fighters will need to be cautious with their punches as well as their styles. This includes speed, timing, accuracy, power and agility. DeGale will need to prove to the world that he’s vacated his belt for the right reasons by fighting Eubank Jr and beating him. For Eubank Jr, he needs to prove that he can compete with the boxing elites and prove that he is a great fighter.
DeGale-Eubank Jr. Feb. 23 Grudge Match Launches PBC UK Debut
By Jake Donovan
James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr. finally get to settle things in the ring.
The pair of British super middleweights and longtime domestic rivals will collide on February 23 at The O2 in London, with the bout formally announced at a press conference held on site Thursday afternoon.
“I’d like to say how personally proud I am of this new relationship between Premier Boxing Champions and ITV,” stated promoter Richard Poxon, whose Poxon Sports will present the event live on ITV Box Office in the UK. “This is a fantastic all British super-middleweight fight that takes us back to the glory days on ITV.
“For the first British event (under the new deal between PBC and ITV), it’s probably the most anticipated event of recent years. This has every ingredient to be a great event. We’re looking forward to the buildup and of course looking forward to a great fight.”
There will be far less at stake than was the case when the two were first on each other’s radar. In the time that has passed since interest in such a grudge match first made the rounds, DeGale (25-2-1) has won, lost, regained and vacated a super middleweight title.
Meanwhile, Eubank Jr. (27-2, 21KOs) will enter fight night barely a year removed from his disappointing points loss to George Groves in their title fight last February. A win would’ve advanced the second-generation boxer into the World Boxing Super Series finals versus Callum Smith; instead, it left him without a career-defining win and a lot to prove.
It also made it easier to finalize terms to face DeGale, a fitting debut for PBC expanding its brand to the United Kingdom four years after its initial U.S. launch in 2015.
“At this stage of my career, big fights, fan-favorite fights are all that I’m after,” Eubank Jr. said during Thursday’s press conference. “This fight has been 4-5 years in the making.”
Of course, being the son of legendary former two-division titlist Chris Eubank Sr. made him recognizable name from the moment he turned pro in 2011. What caught the eye of his upcoming opponent, though, was Eubank Jr’s awareness of those around him at that time.
“This fight has been a long time coming,” acknowledges DeGale, a 2008 Olympic Gold medalist for Great Britain and two-tour super middleweight titlist. “A lot of people have been calling for this fight. Chris has been calling for this fight.
“When the guy first turned pro, he was calling me out. He’s very deluded and now I’ve finally got the chance to deal with this guy, good and proper.”
The moment will come without a major belt on the line. DeGale regained his title in a points win over Caleb Truax last April after suffering a shocking loss to the American in Dec. ’17, which initially ended his 2 ½ year title reign.
His first title win was a historic moment, becoming the first ever Olympic Gold medalist from Great Britian to win a major title in outpointing Andre Dirrell in their May ’15 clash.
The second tour was short-lived and without fanfare or even a single defense. DeGale opted to vacate in order to search for bigger fights rather than be contractually bound to a mandatory title defense versus Jose Uzcategui. Among the bouts discussed was an eventual showdown with Eubank Jr., a fight that was factored into PBC moving forward with its long-discussed plans of launching its brand in the U.K. market.
Both boxers took on separate tune-ups in the interim, each scoring 3rd round knockouts just two days apart. Eubank Jr’s return to the win column came in an uninspiring stoppage of JJ McDonagh last September in Saudi Arabia, on the undercard of Smith’s knockout win over Groves to win the WBSS super middleweight tournament.
Two days later, DeGale claimed an early hit of Mexico’s Fidel Monterrosa in a bout buried deep on the non-televised portion of a PBC on FS1 show in California.
Little was made of either contest, other than marking time for their eventual head-on collision. Whereas such a fight could have arguably declared the best super middleweight in the world a year or two ago, the February 23 clash has become must-win for both boxers.
“We can call this the retirement fight,” DeGale repeatedly insisted during Thursday’s press conference. “Whoever loses, can knock it on the head. Call it a retirement fight because whoever loses, game over.”
The sentiment wasn’t exactly shared on the other side of the dais.
“Speak for yourself, James,” Eubank Jr. quipped of the notion. “James is talking about retirement. That thought has never entered my mind.”
What has entered his mind, however, was getting game-ready for this bout and functionally for the rest of his career. The 29-year old admits to having been self-trained for his past few contests, but will enter this under the watchful eye of a new—and full-time—coach.
“I haven’t really had an official trainer,” Eubank Jr. confessed in regretting past decisions that have left him in must-win territory. “Ronnie Davies has always been with me, but was never my full time trainer, he was more of an overseer. I was basically training myself.
“This fight will be different. I’m training with a man named Nate Vasquez, who has been living with me full-time. He had to fly home for Christmas but is now back with me. It’s great to have a guy working with me full time, fixing the things I need to work on rather than someone just going through the motions. It’s going to take me to the next level.”
It will have to, as Eubank Jr. has yet to land the type of breakout victory that has advanced his career from potential to confirmed greatness. He was aggressively moved early in his career, perhaps not quite ready for “the next level” in dropping a dull 12-round decision to then-rising contender Billy Joe Saunders, who would go on to win a middleweight title.
The path was similar to that of DeGale, who was paired early in his career with Groves when both were unbeaten prospects. Groves won a tightly contested decision, but it was DeGale who would be the first to win a major title in outpointing Dirrell on U.S. soil.
Three successful title defenses followed, including a 12-round draw with Badou Jack in their Jan. ’17 war. DeGale—who turns 33 in February—remained with a belt around his waist, but the majority draw coupled with the upset loss to Truax that following December left the Brit without a win since barely getting past Rogelio Medina in April ’16.
He now enters this grudge match with two straight victories. The former two-time titlist is also equipped with the more proven track record in big fights and—he believes—has far more left to offer the sport, which he doesn’t believe to be the case for his future opponent.
“After he’s lost to me, I’m not too sure where he’s going to go,” DeGale wondered aloud. “Fortunately, we only have seven more weeks to wait. I’m ready to go.”
European Boxing Notebook: DeGale, Fury, Saunders, WBSS, and more…
By: Oliver McManus
A busy, busy couple of weeks has seen action across Britain aplenty but, for a while, there were relatively few major talking points. Nonetheless here is everything you could possibly need to know from the course of the last two weeks –
Chunky chases the dollar
James DeGale chose to relinquish his IBF super-middleweight title ahead of purse bids with his mandatory challenge Jose Uzcategui to chase fights that will define his “legacy in the division”. The 32 year old British boxer would have been up against a tough, powerful, Venezuelan in Uzcategui and the risk far outweighed the potential reward.
By ridding himself of the IBF title and, therefore, the mandatory situations he is now free to chase huge, money-making fights as he nears the end of his career. Without doubt the ideal location will be in the United Kingdom and DeGale never really managed to take off in America but, back home, there is the potential for some genuine mega-fights.
The winner of the World Boxing Super Series immediately springs to mind with Callum Smith and George Groves both providing stern tests and the appetite for a rematch with Groves has, arguably, never been hotter.
Billy Joe Saunders is another name that had been sounded out with potential for a clash to take place on September 15th but the finances of such a bout were believed to be a sticking point.
Watch this space, though.
Billy Joe Saunders mandated to defend against Demetrius Andrade
Talking of Billy Joe Saunders, the World Boxing Organisation has mandated their middleweight champion to defend his belt against mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade – ranked number 2, the WBO’s number 1, Daniel Jacobs is facing Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the vacant IBF title – with purse bids expected before the end of the month.
Saunders was scheduled to face Martin Murray on two occasions already this year – April and June – before pulling out with injury both times and with Murray, now, reluctant to sign on for a third bout there was seemingly few attractive avenues for the champion to go down.
Against Andrade, Saunders would be up against a former super-welterweight champion and, you’d say, one of the hardest challenges of his career. We already know September 15th is the date being mooted for Saunders’ next fight, at the O2, and Andrade would provide quite a nice test in anticipation of a potential showdown with the winner of GGG-Canelo.
Saunders has already declared his willingness to take the fight as well as his confidence in beating the American but with Andrade signing with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing USA we could be set for one tasty purse bids.
WE HAVE A TOURNAMENT for 2018/19 with the World Boxing Super Series announcing the complete line-up for the Bantamweight division with no less than four world champions – the WBC are the only governing body not represented by a world champion (mainly because the belt is currently vacant) – in Emmanuel Rodriguez, Naoya Inoue, Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete the belt holders to have signed up.
The other four fighters in the tournament are Jason Moloney (IBF Mandatory), Juan Carlos Payano (WBO #1), Nonito Donaire and, 4-0 Russian, Mikhail Aloyan.
Safe to say this tournament is shaping up to be the cruiserweight equivalent for 2018/19 and Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Jason Moloney will serve as one of the first quarter-finals having been called as a mandatory whilst Burnett, Tete and Inoue will be the other three seeds.
Fury looks to freeze Pianeta
The former heavyweight kingpin will be returning to the ring for the second time since his much awaited comeback kicked off and will face Francesco Pianeta at Windsor Park on August 18th, on the undercard of Carl Frampton vs Luke Jackson.
Fury will be looking for a far more polished and serious performance than the crowd at Manchester Arena witnessed on June 9th against Sefer Seferi with critics accusing him of not taking the sport seriously. Against Pianeta there is, on paper, a far more challenging opponent in the opposite corner with Pianeta a two-time world title challenger.
Those title challenges both ended with the Italian-born German getting knocked out, by Wladimir Klitschko and Ruslan Chagaev and the 40 fight veteran has had a less-than-impressive record over the past 12-18 months having lost to both Petar Milas and Kevin Johnson in depressingly convincing fashion.
Tyson Fury should, then, sweep past his latest challenge with relative comfort.
MTK Scottish card
MTK Global announced their first card as part of the new BoxNation broadcast agreement, to take place at the Emirates Arena on Friday 24th August in Glasgow with an absolutely stacked card of action set to take place.
Ronnie Clark, who sensationally upset Zelfa Barrett earlier in the year, defends his IBF European title against unbeaten prospect David Oliver Joyce – 7 and 0 – with the Irishman coming off the back of a sixth round TKO victory over Jordan Ellison.
Joyce has already proven his natural power with six wins via knockout and he’ll be looking to stamp his authority throughout the course of this, scheduled, 12 rounder. Clark is well aware of the threat posed by his 31 year old counterpart having declared the bout will be “amazing” to Irish-Boxing.com.
And, mark my words, this will be a war. There are no other ways of putting it.
On the undercard, local-legend, Willie Limond will return to the ring to take on MTK’s new signing in Darragh Foley over the course of 10 rounds with Foley fighting for the first time on British shores as a professional having been based in Australia up until now.
Rankin’ Rising up the Rankings
Hannah Ranking, the leading light in female Scottish boxing, will look to put behind her the previous issues in finding opponents when she travels to New York for her world title challenge on August 4th. Fighting Alicia Napoleon for the WBA Super Middleweight title, Rankin is in with a counterpart who has lost just once previously – to Tori Nelson – and is moving up YET ANOHTER weight category having last fought at middleweight and, prior to that, super welterweight.
British purse bids
As is always a busy period in the month, it was time for the BBBofC purse bids and seeing as there is so much to get through, this will be brief;
Cruiserweight – Matty Askin has been mandated to defend his British cruiserweight belt against up-and-coming Lawrence Okolie after the two have been verbally sparring across social media for weeks. The contest will go to purse bids on Wednesday, August 8th.
Light Heavyweight – Following a tempestuous fight for the English title back in February and months of expectation, a date was set for the rematch between Liam Conroy and Miles Shinkwin – slated for Friday, September 14th – but just days afterwards Liam Conroy decided to vacate the title and avoid the fight.
Middleweight – With the English middleweight belt being vacant promoter Errol Johnson reached an agreement with Reece Cartwright and Tyler Denny for the two to go toe-to-toe on Saturday, September 29th in Walsall for the title.
Super Welterweight – An agreement was reached by Eddie Hearn and the respective parties to stage Asinia Byfield vs Ted Cheeseman for the vacant British Super Welterweight title with the fight to take place on Saturday, October 20th in London; Adam Harper and Billy Bird will meet for the vacant English title on Saturday, September 22nd in Ipswich.
Super Lightweight – Robbie Davies signed a three-fight agreement with Eddie Hearn earlier in the month and his first fight will be on Saturday, October 13th in Newcastle for the vacant British Super Lightweight title and he’ll be up against Glenn Foot in a bruising encounter.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Prograis, DeGale, Beltran, Briedis, Smith, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of June 26th to July 4th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Briedis Faces Deslaurier on Usyk-Gassiev Undercard
Mairis Briedis, Ali Trophy Final Cruiserweight Substitute Fighter, meets Brandon Deslaurier, on the Usyk-Gassiev undercard July 21 at the Olimpiyskiy Arena in Moscow, Russia.
“I can’t wait to fight again,” said Briedis (23-1, 18 KOs). “I’m looking forward to a quality World Boxing Super Series event and I am sure that the 21st of July will make a great night of boxing for the fans in Moscow and all over the world.”
The former WBC World Champion won his quarter-final in the quest for the Muhammad Ali Trophy against Mike Perez by unanimous decision and continued to face top-seed Usyk.
The Latvian sports hero did not fail to impress in a ‘Fight Of The Year’-contender as the semi-final was dubbed.
Briedis was defeated in a close and thrilling contest and gave what Usyk called; ‘the toughest fight of my career.’
The 33-year-old will be on standby to enter the final in Moscow in the unlikely scenario of one of the original participants being unable to compete.
In his fight on the Moscow undercard, Briedis is up against France’s Brandon Deslaurier (11-1-1, 1 KO).
“I’m very excited to come to Russia and compete against a world class fighter like Mairis Briedis. But people must not underestimate me. I am coming to Russia to win and beat Mairis Briedis,” said Deslaurier.
Everything is on the line for Aleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev in the Ali Trophy Cruiserweight Final in Moscow: The winner in Moscow on July 21 will be the first one ever to take home the Muhammad Ali Trophy. The first cruiserweight ever to unify the titles in the four-belt era. The winner will also add RING Magazine’s vacant cruiserweight championship belt.
Prograis and Velasco Competing for Place in Ali Trophy Tournament
The winner of WBC Interim World Champion Regis Prograis vs top challenger Juan Jose Velasco on July 14 will enter the 140lb edition of the second season of the World Boxing Super Series.
29-year-old Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs), the Houston resident who relocated from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, won the WBC Interim 140-pound World Championship in March after a sensational second round TKO-victory over former titleholder Julius Indongo from Namibia.
“My biggest asset is my hunger to be the best. I have a chip on my shoulder and I want to prove to everybody I am the best at 140 lbs,” said Prograis.
The undefeated southpaw, known for his fan-friendly style inspired by idols such as Roberto Duran and Pernell Whitaker, is confident that he will enter the tournament.
“I’m definitely excited to enter into the tournament. This is great for boxing. The best fighting the best.”
31-year-old Velasco (20-0, 12 KOs), from Buenos Aires, Argentina, will challenge the Interim WBC World Super Lightweight Champion in Prograis’ birthplace of New Orleans, Louisiana on July 14. Velasco already sees himself as an Ali Trophy participant:
“It’s a great honour and I look forward to competing for the Muhammad Ali Trophy and winning the whole thing. I think the format is set up well,” said Velasco, also known as ‘El Pitbull’. “The best fight the best in the World Boxing Super Series to determine one champ. Great!”
Said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer: “Prograis is an exciting athlete capable of catapulting his status to new heights of sporting glory in the Ali Trophy tournament. He is facing Velasco, a tough challenger. We are sure of one thing: another belt will enter the Ali Trophy tournament!”
Three weight classes will feature in Season II of the World Boxing Super Series with two categories, Bantamweight and Super Lightweight, already announced.
DeGale Vacates IBF Title
Two-Time IBF World Super-Middleweight Champion James DeGale MBE has today relinquished his title as he closes in on securing big-fights in the final phase of his illustrious ring career.
DeGale, a former British and European Champion, has ruled the 168 pound division split over two reigns as World Champion totalling almost three years and has been involved in six IBF World Championship contests.
The Londoner is proud to have held the organisation’s prestigious and famous red and gold World Title belt that has been worn by many of the great fighters at the weight including legends Joe Calzaghe and Roy Jones Jnr.
DeGale began his first reign as IBF World Champion in May 2015 by making history to become Britain’s first ever Olympic Champion to win a world title when he sensationally defeated Andre Dirrell in Boston to claim the vacant belt.
The trail-blazing Londoner then continued his campaign across the Atlantic to gain respect from the media and fans’ as he made the first successful defence of the title against former IBF World Champion Lucian Bute in Canada in November that year.
In April 2016, DeGale returned to the U.S to make the second defence of the title against tough Mexican Rogelio Medina in Washington which he won on a majority decision.
DeGale then aimed to solidify his dominance of the 168 pound division by attempting to unify his IBF title against WBC World Champion Badou Jack in January 2017 in Brooklyn, New York. In an electrifying, all-action fight, DeGale retained his title by way of controversial draw that many felt DeGale had won.
A British homecoming world title defence against American Caleb Truax in December 2017 was ruined after DeGale lost his title on a points decision in a below par performance. He later admitted it was because he returned to the ring too soon after having career saving surgery to his shoulder following the Jack fight.
However, DeGale proved his champion’s heart by facing Truax in his backyard for the rematch in April this year in Las Vegas when he reclaimed the title with a dominant display to win clearly on the judges’ scorecards.
DeGale was due to be involved in a purse bid for his IBF mandated title defence against Interim Champion Jose Uzcategui this Thursday (5th July), but has now withdrawn.
DeGale said, “No World champion easily gives up their World title that they’ve earned the hard way in the ring and I’ve proudly held the IBF World title in two reigns with pride and distinction which is why it makes it very hard decision to relinquish the belt. It has been a pleasure to work with the IBF and I would like to thank president Daryl Peoples for allowing me to challenge and hold the distinguished belt that so many of the division’s great champions have held before for me. It has been a honour to be recognised as the IBF World Champion and I hope that by now vacating it will ease the transition to determine a successor between the Interim champion Jose Uzcategui and the next highly ranked available contender. I’ve achieved so much in my career, Olympic Gold, British, European and International titles and two-time World Champion and I believe I’m at the top of my game right now. I’m in the final phase of my career where I have a few good years left where I can be involved in massive fights and really leave a legacy in the division’s history. My team have been working very hard behind the scenes and we’ve got some very big and exciting news to announce soon.”
WBO News: Top Rank Wins the Beltran-Andreev Purse Bid
This afternoon, at the World Boxing Organization (WBO) headquarters in Puerto Rico, the purse bid for the mandatory fight between WBO Lightweight World Champion Raymundo Beltrán (35-7-1 , 21 KOs), from Mexico, and first-ranked Roman Andreev (21-0, 15 KOs), from Russia.
Top Rank won the rights for the fight with a successful bid of $ 252,000. Top Rank Vice President Carl Moretti, personally presented the winning bid. The fight is scheduled for Saturday, August 25 in Phoenix, Arizona.
The OMB exhorted both Top Rank and other promoters to submit their boxers to doping controls, not only immediately prior to and after the title fights, but throughout the entire training phase of both combatants.
Joe Smith Jr. Returns with Devastating KO at Mohegan Sun
Returning to the ring after an 11-month layoff due to a broken jaw, Joe “The Beast” Smith, Jr. provided early fireworks last night (Saturday, June 30) in the latest installment in the popular “Slugfest at The Sun” series, presented by Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“Slugfest at The Sun” was taped live and will air July 19, 8 -10 p.m. ET, on New England Sports Network (NESN). Star Boxing’s next event, “Rockin’ Fights”, September 21 at the Paramount in Huntington, NY, will also air via tape- delay on NESN.
Rated No. 3 and No. 7 in the world, respectively, by the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA), Smith (24-2, 20 KOs) hurt Melvin “The Romantic Redneck” Russell (11-5-2, 7 KOs) with the first punch he landed and finished the show, two devastating knockdowns later, in the opening round.
“I hit him with a decent shot when I was walking him down and saw that I hurt him,” Joe Smith Jr. explained. “So, I looked to end it. I would have liked to have gotten some rust off, but I’m happy with my performance. My jaw feels great.”
“We’re looking to go to the top,” Smith’s promoter Joe DeGuardia stated. “Joe’s plan and goal has always been to be world champion. We wanted (Sergey) Kovalev before this fight, but it didn’t work out. We’re hoping to get him in the fall.”
“Kovalev looks great, he motivates me,” Smith noted. “I think I can take advantage of his conditioning.”
Coming off her historic fight this past May against the undefeated Queen of Boxing Cecelia Breakhus, who won a 10-round decision in the first female fight to air on HBO, three-time world champion Kali “KO Mequinonoag” Reis (14-7-1, 4 KOs) cruised past Mexican welterweight Patty “Las Elegante” Ramirez (11-6, 5 KOs), a former world title challenger, winning all eight rounds.
“She was a survivor,” Reis commented. “There was a lot we wanted to work on, body shots, jabs and more … getting more comfortable. I executed the plan my corner gave me and got the job done.
A Native American from Rhode Island, Reis wants a rematch with Breakhus, “I know I need to stay busy, active and remain fighting at welterweight to get the rematch,” Reis added. “I’m going to stay on her tail. I’ll be ready when it happens, I really want it to happen.”
In the television opener, undefeated junior welterweight “Action” Anthony Laureano (8-0 3KO’s) lived up to his nickname, never taking a backwards step, as he pounded Juan Rodriguez (8-10-1 6KO’s) in the center of the ring from the opening bell through the end for a dominant six-round unanimous decision. The 2016 New England Golden Gloves champion Laureano, who fights out East Hartford, CT, put on an entertaining show in front of his large, loud contingent of fans. Laureano effectively used every punch in his vast arsenal to break down a tough, game Rodriguez.
“I thought I did well,” Laureano said after the fight, “but I’d like to see more angles. I want to see more power, too. It’s there, he felt it; it’s coming. I have a long road. Next fight, I’d like to have an eight-rounder. We’re adding more people to the team. I hope everyone see that I’m getting better each fight. I have more tools and my discipline is there.”
Undefeated junior middleweight Wendy “Haitian Fire” Toussaint (9-0, 3 KOs) lit up an overwhelmed Andy Gonzalez (6-3, 5 KOs), battering him from pillar to post, until referee Steve Willis waved off the fight in the third round. Haiti-native Toussaint, now living in Huntington, NY, used his superior power and speed to make an impressive statement.
Popular South Boston southpaw Joe Farina (3-0, 2 KOs) overcame a flash knockdown during the opening seconds of the fight, using a relentless attack to defeat junior welterweight Steve Moore (1-4, 1 KO), by way of a four-round split decision.
Irish junior welterweight “Lethal” Larry Fryers (formerly known as Gleeson) improved his record to 7-1 (2 KOs) with a six-round unanimous decision over Anthony Woods (1-7-1). Fighting out of Yonkers NY, Fryers floored Woods with a left hook at the end of round two. Woods was penalized a point near the end of the final round for an intentional head butt.
Former U. of New Haven basketball star Cassius Chaney (13-0, 7 KOs), fighting out of New London (CT), kept his undefeated record intact, dropping Mexican heavyweight Elder Hernandez (5-3, 3 KOs) twice before referee Willis halted the match near the end of the opening round.
The opening bout of the evening ended in the second round and ruled a “No Contest” because of an accidental head butt that left both fighters — William “The Silent Assassin” Foster III (8-0, 6 KOs) and Tyrome Jones (4-3-1, 1 KO) – with serious head cuts and unable to continue.
Showtime Boxing Results: Hurd Wins Thriller Over Lara, Williams and DeGale Victorious
By: William Holmes
Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions put on a triple header on the Showtime networks live from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The main event of the evening was between Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd and the co-main event of the evening was between James DeGale and Caleb Truax which was a rematch of a mammoth upset in 2017.
The opening bout of the night was between Julian Williams (24-1-1) and Nathaniel Gallimore (20-1) in the junior middleweight division. The winner of this bout will likely be looking at a title shot in the near future.
Julian Williams was a big step up in competition for Nathaniel Gallimore and he stayed behind a strong jab and good side to side movement in the opening three rounds. Gallimore was able to land some shots on the inside, and landed and received some heavy shots in the fourth round.
Williams had a small mouse under his right eye in the fifth round that opened up from an unintentional headbutt. Williams began to focus on the body more in the middle rounds, though he looked a little tired in the fifth and sixth rounds.
Williams body work continued into the seventh, eight, and ninth rounds and it was visibly sapping the energy of Gallimore. Gallimore’s punches didn’t have much snap in the tenth round and Williams had Gallimore badly hurt in the eleventh round and looked close to stopping him.
It was an entertaining fight, with only one questionable scorecard at the end.
The final scores were 114-114, 116-112, and 117-110 in favor of Julian Williams.
After this bout Floyd Mayweather Jr. was interviewed by Showtime and indicated that if he was going to unretire he would fight in the octagon.
The co-main event of the night was between Caleb Truax (29-3-2) and James DeGale (23-2-1) for the IBF Super Middleweight Title.
Photo Credit: Showtime Twitter Account
DeGale showed the quicker hand speed and more accurate in the opening two rounds, but it featured many headbutts that often happen when a southpaw faces an orthodox fighter.
Truax applied heavy pressure in the third round which featured a hard-right hand to the chin of DeGale that sent him falling backwards into the ropes. DeGale had a cut by his right eye that the referee ruled was caused by a punch, but the video replay showed it was caused by a head-butt.
The Nevada commission informed the announce team in the fourth round that the ruling on the cut being caused by a punch still stood despite the video evidence.
Truax continued to come forward in the fourth through sixth rounds while DeGale badly bled. Truax however wasn’t able to land many effective combinations but he was pressing the action.
DeGale started to land some good counters in the seventh round and land some good short shots on the inside. DeGale had a very strong eighth and ninth rounds and often switched to an orthodox stance from his traditional southpaw stance.
Truax had cuts under both of his eyes by the ninth round and appeared to be tiring. DeGale lost a point in the tenth round for a deliberate shoulder strike.
The final two rounds were close and featured some tight action, but DeGale looked like he was landing the better punches.
The final scores were 117-110, 114-113, and 114-113 for James DeGale.
The main event of the night was between Jarrett Hurd (21-0) and Erislandy Lara (25-2-2) for the IBF and WBA Junior Middleweight Titles .
Photo Credit: Showtime Twitter Account
Hurd looked like he was two weight classes bigger than Lara, but Lara was able to find a home with his straight left hand early on and land some quick combinations in the second.
Hurd didn’t appear to be too bothered with Lara’s power and was able to land some good short shots on the inside and was making Lara back away from him in the fourth rounds.
Hurd showed he had a granite chin in the fifth round and was able to take the shots of Lara and answer with his own shots to the body. Lara appeared to tire in the sixth rounds as his back was against the ropes again, and he took a hard right hook at the end of the seventh round.
Hurd was able to land some very hard shots in the eighth round and had Lara’s eye puffed up badly in the ninth.
Lara was able to slow Hurd’s momentum in the 10th round with quick counters and being the first on the attack, and he was able to finish the eleventh round strong and maybe steal the round.
The twelfth round featured both boxers going for the knockout, but it was Hurd who landed a shot that sent his opponent to the mat. Lara looked badly hurt and face was swollen, but he was able to survive the round.
The scores were 114-113 Lara, 114-113 Hurd, and 114-113 Hurd.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Lara v. Hurd, Truax vs. DeGale
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Showtime will team up with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) to put on two highly competitive fights live from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Nevada.
The main event will feature a Junior Middleweight Unificaiton bout between Erislandy Lara and the rising Jarrett Hurd. The co-main event of the evening will feature an anticipated rematch between Caleb Truax and James DeGale for the IBF Super Middleweight World Championship.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime
Their first match was won by Truax in what many consider to be the biggest upset of the year in 2017.
The undercard will feature fighters such as Julian Williams, Sergio Mora, and Alfredo Angulo.
The following is a preview of the two televised fights.
Caleb Truax (29-3-2) vs. James DeGale (23-2-1); IBF Super Middleweight Title
The expected opening bout of the telecast will be between Caleb Truax and James DeGale for the IBF Super Middleweight Title. Truax was able to pull off a tremendous upset during their first bout and surprisingly is still considered by many to be the underdog, despite the fact he beat DeGale in England.
Truax and DeGale are the same height and DeGale has a slight one inch reach advantage. Truax has been the more active boxer of the two. He fought twice in 2017 and three times in 2016. DeGale fought twice in 2017 and once in 2016.
DeGale clearly has the better amateur resume of the two. He was an Olympic Gold Medalist in 2008 while Truax was an Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Champion. However, while DeGale may be the better amateur boxer Truax appears to have more power in his punches. Truax has stopped eighteen of his opponents while DeGale has stopped fourteen.
Truax has defeated the likes of DeGale, KeAndrae Leatherwood, Melvin Betenacourt, Scott Sigmon, Derek Ennis, and Donovan George. He has lost to the likes of Anthony Dirrell, Daniel Jacobs, and Jermain Taylor.
DeGale has beaten the likes of Rogelio Medina, Lucian Bute, Andre Dirrell, Marco Antonio Periban, and Dyah Davis. His losses were to George Groves and Truax.
Even though DeGale has the edge in amateur experience and defeated opponents, Truax was able to beat DeGale in his own backyard and rather convincingly the first time they faced each other and it wasn’t by a lucky knockout punch.
Truax will have the mental edge going into Saturday night that may be the difference to help him win this rematch.
Jarrett Hurd (21-0) vs. Erislandy Lara (25-2-2); IBF/WBA Junior Middleweight Titles
This is an intriguing fight between a decorated amateur from Cuba that may be coming near the end of his physical peak and a young upcoming champion looking to make a name for him.
Lara is thirty four years old and will be seven years older than Hurd on fight night. He will also be giving up four inches in height and two and a half inches in reach. Hurd has also been the more active fighter of the two. He fought twice in 2017 and twice in 2016, while Lara only fought once in 2016 and fought twice in 2017.
Lara, however, does not appear to be worried about the size difference. He stated at the last press conference, ” “Everyone knows I love to fight his style. I’ve fought better and taller fighters than him and you’ve seen me dominate them. It’s going to be nothing different on Saturday night.”
Hurd has a slight edge in power as he has fifteen stoppage victories on his record, while Lara only has fourteen stoppage victories.
Hurd was a semifinalist in the National Golden Gloves tournament as an amateur while Lara was a Cuban National Amateur Champion and a member of the Cuban National Boxing Team.
Hurd has defeated the likes of Austin Trout, Tonly Harrison, Ionut Dan, Oscar Molina and Frank Galarza. Nobody has yet to defeat Hurd as a professional.
Lara’s two losses were close and were to Canelo Alvarez and to Paul Williams. He has defeated the likes of Terrel Gausha, Yuri Foreman, Vanes Martirosyan, Jan Zaveck, Delvin Rodriguez, Ishe Smith, Austin Trout, Alfredo Angulo, and Freddy Hernandez.
Hurd appears ready to test Lara and take advantage of his size advantage and his age advantage. He stated, “”Lara is a guy who can’t take pressure fighters well. I have some of the best pressure in the game. I’m younger, stronger, taller and longer. He’s not going to be able to run for 12 rounds. “
Has Lara reached the end of his peak? He hasn’t shown signs of slowing down and Hurd leaves himself open to counters. It should be a close fight, but this writer envisions Lara pulling away by the end of the fight.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Results Caleb Truax Defeats Heavy Favorite James DeGale
By: Ste Rowen
James DeGale v Caleb Truax
It was supposed to be a challenging homecoming, not a do-or-die war, but the fight that should’ve propelled James ‘Chunky DeGale into unification fights in 2018 has left him beltless and wondering what’s next. American and one-time challenger for the WBA ‘Regular’ middleweight belt, Caleb ‘Golden’ Truax is the new IBF super middleweight champion of the world, and there can be no complaints against that.
Photo Credit: Sky Sports Boxing
It was DeGale’s first defence on home soil of the belt he won back in 2015 and from the first bell he seemed to be taking a more measured approach until he unleashed a flurry of left hooks, a notable weakness of Truax’s, and left his opponent stunned but not down. Truax did well to recover from that attack and continued into the second.
Caleb brought the fight to the champion from then on, as DeGale began to load up on left hands. The American won the round to even the scorecards going into the third. Through rounds three and four, a stiff jab from the American forced DeGale further and further back and allowed Truax to dictate how the fight would play out.
The fifth was a massive round for ‘Golden’ as he continued to pummel the IBF champ unanswered, with huge right uppercuts and straights. A brief rally at the end of the round from DeGale gave the impression to the home crowd that he was still in the fight.
The middle rounds saw the 2008 Olympic champion adopt a more stick and move style, but it wasn’t enough to keep Truax from coming forward without fear. The final three rounds were nip and tuck as DeGale began to employ a little of the darks arts with the forceful use of head and elbow. His little spurts of activity may have geed the crowd up but they would prove ineffective.
In the middle of the final round Truax lifted his arms in triumph, received mainly by cheers from a crowd that booed him into the ring. He’d won the hearts of the fans inside London’s Copper Box Arena, and with it the red strap that propels him into potentially huge fights in 2018.
The final scorecards came back as 114-114 and 115-112, 116-112 for the American. It was testament to Truax’s performance that when the 114-114 card was announced, it was met by boos. The crowd sensed another terrible 2017 scorecard but thankfully the right man won and a new champion was crowned.
Caleb Truax, now America’s second middleweight champion along with David Benavidez.
The Undercard highlights…
Lee Selby v Eduardo Ramirez
IBF Featherweight Champion, Lee Selby claimed a dominant points decision victory over Mexican challenger, Eduardo Ramirez to solidify his status as one of the best featherweights in the world.
The Welshman was fighting with style early on, whereas Ramirez was seemingly looking for the home run as he swung and swung, but never hit anything significant. Through the early rounds Selby showed his class. The southpaw in Ramirez did it’s best to show some essence of movement, but Selby’s jab was king through three.
Into four Selby began to take one to land two, frequently throwing combinations of hooks to be met by the occasional power shot response from the Mexican. More of the same followed through to round eight as Lee continued to dominate, but he was clearly looking to impress, made obvious by a number of wayward big left hands.
Despite a brief scare in the eleventh, as the Mexican rallied and landed a heavy left that gave Selby something to think about; the final five rounds saw Lee Selby do what Lee Selby does best. With a little more nastiness in the punches compared to previous fights, he established himself behind a dominant jab and chipped away at Ramirez’s remaining defences with consistent straight punches.
The final twelve round scorecards came back as 118-110, 119-109, 116-112.
Selby will now hopefully move onto a big 2018, with potential opponents such as, Josh Warrington, Scott Quigg, Carl Frampton and fellow belt holders, Gary Russell Jr, Oscar Valdez and Leo Santa Cruz.
Anthony Yarde v Nikola Sjekloca
Anthony Yarde became the first man to stop Nikola Sjekloca, as rising light heavyweight star, ‘The Beast’, earnt his fourteenth victory, and twelth straight knockout.
Yarde seemed to be precision personified, but it wasn’t a walkover. A man who has never been stopped is a man who wants to keep that record, but Yarde’s heavy hits only got heavier as he knocked down Sjekloca for the first time in the second round.
Sjekloca came with a reply at the start of round three, but again Yarde’s superior punches and the rate he was landing, kept the London native well on top.
At the start of the fourth Yarde landed big hit after big hit before knocking the Montenegrin down again, and then once more after continuous power punches and the referee stopped the fight with a brave Nikola still on his feet.
Yarde now 14-0 (13KOs) will surely be expecting the biggest fight of his career so far in 2018, a bout for the British light heavyweight title.
Daniel Dubois v Dorian Darch
Daniel Dubois made lightwork of one of Britain’s favourite heavyweight gate keepers in Dorian Darch, achieving his sixth consecutive knockout victory. But Darch didn’t come to lie down. Nearing the end of the first round, Dubois brought the firepower and knocked down his latest foe for the first time. Dorian survived, but not for long.
At the start of the second Dubois picked up where he left off and fired an assault on Darch, knocking him down three times in brutal fashion before the referee ended the fight and Dubois claimed his latest knockout victory. His record now stands at 6-0 (6KOS).
It’s a brave man that steps in with him next.
Joe Mullender v Lee Churcher
In a fantastic give-and-take fight between 10-2, Joe Mullender and 12-3-1, Lee Churcher, Mullender came out the victor, knocking Churcher down twice in round five and then again in the eighth and eleventh, when the referee waved the bout off and Joe Mullender became the new IBF East/West Europe Middleweight Champion.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: DeGale vs. Truax, Selby vs. Ramirez
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night, James ‘Chunky’ DeGale headlines a card crammed with current and future British boxing stars at the Copper Box Arena in London.
The IBF champion, 23-1-1 (14KOs) is returning to the ring for the first time since his super middleweight unification attempt vs Badou Jack back in January this year, that ultimately ended in a draw but set the ball rolling for a fantastic year in the sport.
Photo Credit: Box Nation Twitter
Since then, DeGale has been held back by a shoulder injury that ruled him out of competing in the World Boxing Super Series, which resumes for the semi-finals in February next year.
It’ll be just DeGale’s fourth defence of the belt he won back in May 2015 after a unanimous decision victory over Andre Dirrell, and his first fight on home soil since he defeated Marco Antonio Periban on the undercard of Bellew v Cleverly in 2014. Since then the 2008 Olympic gold medallist has racked up decision victories over Lucien Bute, Rogelio ‘Porky’ Medina, and the aforementioned draw with now light heavyweight contender, Badou Jack.
His opponent, Caleb ‘Golden’ Truax, 28-3-2 (18KOs), has fought for a version of the world titles once before when he took on then WBA ‘Regular’ middleweight champion, Daniel Jacobs in 2015. Truax was being soundly beaten even before the twelth-round of that fight when, with 1:24 left on the clock Jacobs landed a right hand sending the Minnesota native sprawling into the ropes. The referee gave Truax the mandatory eight-count but after being allowed to carry on, Jacobs continued to fire off massive, unanswered rights and the referee put an end to the fight with Truax still on his feet.
Caleb attempted to bounce back when he returned ten months later to beat Melvin Betancourt via fourth-round TKO, and then took on Anthony Dirrell in April 2016, but he was simultaneously put on the canvas for the first time, and beaten for a third by the former WBC champion who took just 1:30 of the first round to drop Truax, and then again, his weakness for the right straight showed as Dirrell dropped him again and the referee stopped the fight.
Since then, ‘Golden’ has picked up two fairly routine stoppage victories over 5-15-0, Zachariah Kelley, and American middleweight, KeAndrae Leatherwood.
Caleb was no doubt surprised to get the offer of another world title shot in the form of James DeGale.
Speaking to the BBC about the challenger for his belt ‘Chunky’ said, “Truax is a good fighter, I’m not saying he’s a world beater… He dropped Jermaine Taylor when Jermaine Taylor was hot so he’s mixed it at a good level but he’s always just missed out… So, he’s no mug but this is the perfect opponent where I can look fantastic.”
DeGale also said this week he’s targeting another unification fight, this time with the recently crowned WBC champion, David Benavidez.
Co-main on the night will be IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby who is returning to the ring for the third time this year. He faces Eduardo Ramirez, 20-0-3, in his fifth fight since winning the IBF title from Evgeny Gradovich back in 2015. Last time out ‘The Welsh Mayweather’ fought Jonathon Victor Barros on the Eubank v Abraham undercard, dropping Barros in the twelth en route to a clear unanimous decision.
It’s not a dissimilar setup as Carl Frampton’s recent decision win against Horacio Garcia; the bout is seemingly the gateway to the super fights of 2018 against the likes of Leo Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez, Gary Russell Jr and of course, former WBA Featherweight champion, Frampton.
In an interview from FrankWarren.com, Selby said, ‘Ramirez is a young, hungry Mexican who comes from a very good stable… He’s an undefeated southpaw and highly ranked by the IBF (11th). From clips I’ve seen, Eduardo’s a similar height as myself, if not taller, so I’ll not enjoy the advantages… My record shows I can always make the adjustments needed to win. I’m confident that my class will prevail’
His Mexican opponents’ most recent outing was a controversial draw in Vegas, with unbeaten, Leduan Barthelmy. Ramirez was viewed by most as doing more than enough to grant him the win, but Vegas was Vegas and handed Ramirez a third draw in his twenty-three-fight pro career. This will be Eduardo’s first scheduled twelve-round bout with his longest fight also being the ten-rounder mentioned above. The southpaw should not be an easy touch for Selby, the Welshman will need to box smart early when Ramirez attempts to fire off quick combinations of hooks and big overhand lefts. Experience could be key for Selby who’s been the twelve-round distance six times, three as a world champion.
Hot prospects, Light Heavyweight Anthony Yarde and ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois will also feature on the card.
13-0-0 (12KOs), Anthony Yarde has been busy this year knocking out all four of his 2017 opponents, most recently scoring a third-round stoppage against former super middleweight contender, Robert Nemesapati, now 25-7-0.
He takes on never before stopped, Nicola Sjekloca, 32-4-1 (11KOs), who’s previous opponents include Callum Smith, Arthur Abraham and current WBA ‘Regular’ Super Middleweight champion, Tyron Zeuge. It’s certainly a step up though for Yarde. In his last fight in March, the Montenegrin went the twelve-round distance in a split decision draw to former WBO super middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz.
The only criticism to level against the light heavyweight prospect so far is the quality of opponent he’s come up against, even as early as it is in his career. Some would argue, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and ‘The Beast’ has certainly done so, showing speed, timing and a keen eye for the stoppage. It will be Yarde’s second scheduled twelve round fight; the furthest he’s gone so far is four when he was taken the distance by Latvian, Stanislavs Makarenko in the Englishman’s second pro bout.
Twenty-year-old heavyweight Dubois, 5-0-0 (5KOs) takes on 12-5-1 (1KO), Dorian Darch. Dubois has made an explosive start to his professional career but much like Yarde, is now being encouraged by fans to hurry along his early progress and the young Brit’s promoter obviously feels the same. Frank Warren is reportedly trying to get the British Board of Control to lower the age limit a fighter must be to challenge for the British heavyweight belt, currently set at twenty-one. Daniel’s 21st birthday is in September next year.
James DeGale comes of age in a bloody steak of a fight with Badou Jack – so what next?
James DeGale comes of age in a bloody steak of a fight with Badou Jack – so what next?
By G.E. Simons
Since his split decision loss in a British super-middleweight title fight against George Groves in May 2011, James DeGale has enjoyed an impressive uneaten run collecting wins in the UK, Denmark, Canada and the US, picking up the IBF World super-middleweight title along the way.
DeGale became Word champion by edging out Andre Dirrell almost four years to the day since collecting that only professional career loss against Groves and has successfully defended the strap three times since, against Lucian Bute, Rogelio Medina and Badou Jack.
Whether by design or circumstance, DeGale has made all three defences on foreign soil against opponents that have all given him more problems than he or the oddsmakers had anticipated or predicted.
His January unification fight with WBC title-holder Badou Jack got 2017 off to a great start in New York and is probably one of the best drawn contests that you will see this year. It was a rough, tough and bloody rare steak of a fight, albeit one with a seam of skill and will running right through the heart of it.
Jack walked away from the encounter and almost certainly into a light-heavyweight future, exhibiting more frustration with the majority draw scorecards than he was entitled to, as neither combatant really deserved to win and neither combatant really deserved to lose.
A more pragmatic DeGale walked away from the Brooklyn ring without a couple of teeth but with a perforated ear drum and broken nose, his reputation greatly enhanced through the incredible toughness, machismo and taste for a proper tear up that he showed in a real mano a mano.
Which leaves us with two fundamental questions. Just how good is James DeGale and what comes next for him?
DeGale is clearly a very, very good fighter with quick hands, athleticism, tremendous footwork and real snap in his punching. He is also the first British pugilist to win both an Olympic gold medal (Beijing 2008), before going on to win a version of a professional World title.
Further, he has lost only once against another very good fighter in George Groves and beaten solid operators in Brandon Gonzales, Marco Antonio Periban, Andre Dirrell and Lucian Bute.
But even in these victories and especially in the loss to Groves and the draw with Jack, he has lacked that extra gear, that reserve of stamina or that mercurial divining rod of something unexpected which elevates fighters and invites them to breath that rarefied air surrounding mount greatness.
In the build up to the Badou Jack fight and in an interview with iFIlm TV, James DeGale described his opponent as “A quality operator.” and “a good all round fighter.”
Ironically he could have been describing himself and there’s nothing wrong with that description especially within the context of a super-middleweight landscape where there are a number of other quality operators, if no obvious standout.
Which leads onto what or who is next for James DeGale.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph and following the Badou Jack decision, promoter Eddie Hearn said “James has just gone through a war and it will take him until the summer to come back. He’ll need that time.”
The Matchroom Boxing supremo is right, but come the summer there are no shortage of interesting options out there, including:
Badou Jack’s vacation of the WBC title has muddied the waters a little, as had DeGale taken the belt with a victory, a first defence against Callum Smith would already be signed. Instead we will likely see Smith challenge Antony Dirrell for the vacant belt in late spring. Victory there would guarantee a terrific unification civil war with DeGale in the late summer. Likelihood of it happening next 5/5.
That DeGale and Groves will meet again is inevitable, whether it is next for DeGale is debatable. The Saint has his own commitments in the shape of a tilt at the WBA Super super-middleweight title against Fedor Chudinov confirmed for early 2017. Get through that and Wembley Stadium could beckon once more for a domestic dust up of the super-middles, with titles on the line. Likelihood of it happening next 4/5.
Chris Eubank Jnr.
Agent provocateur Eubank Jnr. called out DeGale after the Jack fight saying “He (DeGale) came out of a 12-round fight and he’s got no teeth – that’s embarrassing in my opinion.” Middleweight Junior fights Renold Quinlan for an IBO bauble in February and who knows his goading might just draw DeGale into a blockbuster summer payday. Likelihood of it happening next 3/5.
Jack has now officially vacated his WBC super-middleweight title as he prepares for a move to light-heavyweight, barring a move up in weight for DeGale a rematch seems highly unlikely. An appetite remains however with both claiming unfinished business, a residual interest from Mayweather promotions in James DeGale and more dollars to be made with fighters who match up well. Likelihood of it happening next 2/5.
Just as Froch was frustrated by Joe Calzaghe’s retirement before they could meet, so James DeGale was frustrated by Carl Froch hanging them up nearly a decade later. The Cobra clearly retains an itch that would be scratched by lacing them up one more time but his head seems to continue to rule his heart. That said, this is boxing so never say never. Likelihood of it happening next 1/5.
DeGale-Jack Shows That Not All 10-9 Rounds Are Alike
DeGale-Jack Shows That Not All 10-9 Rounds Are Alike
By: Sean Crose
Let’s face it, James DeGale got his ass kicked Saturday night in Brooklyn. That’s right, Badu Jack took it to the English super middleweight in a big way. While DeGale, slick and skilled, dominated early, Badu’s hard, grinding style, consisting of body work and hard shots to the head, carried the day. At least it did if we look on the affair as a fight instead of as a boxing match.
Unfortunately for Jack, the title unifier was a boxing match and was judged accordingly, as such. The lighter punching, but faster DeGale escaped with a draw. Indeed, one of the judges had the man actually beating Jack.
I myself had Jack dominating six rounds while DeGale owned four of his own outright. I also had two rounds open to interpretation. In other words, I felt they could have gone either way. So indeed, the final decision wasn’t a bad one if I’m to use my own scoring as a guide. Still, it’s hard for me to get over the fact that DeGale took a beating on Saturday night. Boxing may not be “real” fighting, but it’s real close and there’s little doubt who won Saturday on the “who dished out violence more effectively” scale.
I’ve wondered for a while now if there’s a better way to grade fights than on a round by round basis. It would be hard to find criteria for a successful revision of judging, but perhaps it’s time to seriously consider if such a move is feasible. Not all 10-9 rounds are alike. The proof of that is on DeGale’s face and in his newly toothless smile. Seriously, I was concerned about the guy’s well being on Saturday. He was taking some hellacious punishment and the last thing this world needed was another Magaomed Abdusalamov tragedy.
Again, though, I myself had scored it so that DeGale could conceivably have earned the draw he ended up earning. Still, there seems to just be something off about it. For this was a case where flashy combinations and slick movement couldn’t carry the day. Lots of those DeGale shots landed on gloves. And lots of those Jack shots did some serious damage. As a rule, I tend to admire polished fighters, but when polished fighters get knocked around like DeGale did on Saturday, I have to be honest with myself. Simply put, the scores on Saturday evening did not tell the whole story. And there might be something wrong with that.
DeGale And Jack Ring In Boxing’s New Year With A War On Showtime
DeGale And Jack Ring In Boxing’s New Year With A War On Showtime
By: Sean Crose
This, frankly, was the kind of fight everyone had hoped for. Scratch that – it was better. Although boxing analysts and writers aren’t supposed to act excited (we’re supposed to leave that to our brethren who cover MMA), Saturday night had a lot to get excited about, courtesy of Showtime. James DeGale and Badu Jack met for a super middleweight title unification bout (for the IBF and WBC belts) and certainly delivered. Many analysts thought this fight would be a toss up. Who knew how right they were?
DeGale took the first two rounds simply by seeming faster, sharper and more in control. He even knocked Jack down in the first, though it seemed more of a flash knockdown than a destructive blow. By the third, however, Jack was asserting himself, slowly and steadily moving forward while banging away at DeGale’s body. DeGale, of course responded by tossing off fast, snazzy flurries of punches. It was Jack, however, who was doing the greater amount of damage – at least most of the time. Still, it was an incredibly close affair, which made the whole thing quite suspenseful. DeGale lost his mouthpiece on several occasions and seemed to be getting beat up. The Englishman’s skill level, however, kept him in the fight.
Then, in the twelfth, it was DeGale who went down. He got up, and some way, somehow survived the round. He even had a flourish for himself in the end. There was no doubt, however, that the man had taken some serious damage throughout the bout. It was even reported that he had lost a tooth. Ultimately, the judges ruled it a majority draw; which, although far from a robbery, seemed a bit odd since DeGale was clearly the fighter who had gotten the worst of it. Still, boxing is a sport and not a barroom brawl, and round by round judging allowed DeGale to keep his share of the super middleweight crown.
Yet the DeGale-Jack fight wasn’t the only exciting event of the evening. Junior lightweight Gervonta Davis is a man fight fans most certainly need to keep an eye on if they haven’t started to already. The exceedingly fast, accurate and hard hitting Baltimore native took undefeated IBF titlist Jose Pedraza to school, putting his man away in the 7th round. People are mentioning Gervonta’s name alongside Vasyl Lomachenko for a reason. He may not be ready, yet, but the rising star may certainly be an intriguing matchup for the Ukrainian wunderkind in the future.
On a final, ridiculous note:
Floyd Mayweather made it clear that he’s interested in facing UFC star Conor McGregor in a boxing match. Mayweather also made it clear he’s not interested in facing any more boxers, and that to him, this is all essentially a business matter.
It was certainly a memorable evening.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Jose Pedraza vs. Gervonta Davis, James DeGale vs. Badou Jack
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Jose Pedraza vs. Gervonta Davis, James DeGale vs. Badou Jack
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York will host a WBC/IBF Super Middleweight Unification Title fight between Badou Jack and James DeGale to be televised live on the Showtime Cable Network.
This bout will help determine who the true number one boxer is in the super middleweight division since Andre Ward bumped up to the light heavyweight division.
Another bout scheduled for Saturday will be between Jose Pedraza and Floyd Mayweather Jr. promoted Gervonta Davis for Pedraza’s IBF Junior Lightweight Title. This bout should open up the Showtime broadcast.
The following is a preview of Saturday’s card.
Jose Pedraza (22-0) vs. Gervonta Davis (16-0); IBF Junior Lightweight Title
This is an intriguing matchup between two young upcoming stars in boxing with a bright future ahead of them. It’s also interesting because both boxers have had some much publicized issues with their management teams in the months coming into this fight. It’s been alleged that Pedraza wasn’t completely pleased with his lack of activity underneath the management of Al Haymon, and it’s also been alleged that there was some friction between Gervonta Davis and his promoter, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
However, those issues appear to have been resolved to allow this matchup to take place.
The most noticeable difference between the two boxers on Saturday will be the difference in size. Pedraza will have a two and a half inch height advantage over Davis and will also have about an inch and a half reach advantage. Pedraza is also five years older than Davis, and is experienced enough to deal with the southpaw style that troubles many boxers.
Pedraza does have an edge in amateur experience. Davis did well on the national level; he was a 2012 National Golden Gloves Champion, a three time National Silver Gloves Champion, and a two time PAL Champion. But, Pedraza competed on the international stage as an amateur and represented Puerto Rico in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Valuable international experience that Davis does not appear to have.
Davis has been the more active boxer between the two. He fought five times in 2015 and twice in 2016. Pedraza only fought twice in 2015 and once in 2016.
Davis is also the more powerful puncher/knockout artist. He has stopped fifteen of his opponents. He has defeated the likes of Marco Antonio Macias, Guillermo Avila, Luis Sanchez, and Cristobal Cruz.
Pedraza only has twelve stoppages on his resume. He has defeated the likes of Stephen Smith, Edner Cherry, Andrey Klimov, Michael Farenas, and Tevin Farmer.
This will be an entertaining bout between power and technique, and it should be a close one. But Pedraza has faced better opposition both as an amateur and a professional, and that experience alone gives him a slight edge going into their fight on Saturday.
Badou Jack (20-1-2) vs. James DeGale (23-1) WBC/IBF Super Middleweight Titles
This is one of the best bouts that could be made in the super middleweight division, and the winner should be considered by most to be the best super middleweight.
Both boxers are beginning to leave their prime ages as Jack is thirty three years old and DeGale is thirty years old. Neither boxer is known for their power, as Jack only has twelve stoppage victories and DeGale has fourteen stoppage victories.
Even though both boxers are at the top of their weight division, neither fighter has been very active. Jack fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015, and DeGale also fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015.
Both boxers have a deep amateur background. Jack represented Gambia in the 2008 Summer Olympics and DeGale represented Great Britain in the 2008 Summer Olympics. However, only DeGale medaled as he won the gold medal.
Jack has defeated the likes of Lucian Bute, George Groves, Anthony Dirrell, Rogelio Medina, Marco Antonio Periban, and Farah Ennis. His lone loss was an upset loss to Derek Edwards which he lost by TKO.
DeGale has defeated the likes of Rogelio Medina, Lucian Bute, Andre Dirrell, Marco Antonio Periban, Gevorg Khatchikian, and Dyah Davis. His lone loss was the George Groves.
Even though this is a good matchup, it will likely not be a fan pleasing fight as both boxers are technically skilled fighters that are not known for their power. DeGale has experienced more success as an amateur than Jack, and that indicates that he’s the better technical boxer.
DeGale should win by a close decision on Saturday night.