This weekend take to the states to see two nights of world championship boxing, including a thrilling unification bout and a routine defence for a skilled Cuban, there will be ringside fighters watching eagerly, promoters and fans at a standstill looking on as two of the best super middleweights in the world come to blows.
At the Barclay’s Centre, Brooklyn New York we see WBC Super Middleweight champion Badou Jack 20-1-2 (12ko’s) taking on IBF Super Middleweight champion James DeGale 23-1 (14ko’s) in an extremely competitive unification bout in a division that is starting to take shape quite nicely.
James ‘Chunky’ DeGale of London, UK will be fighting in the back yard of his opponent, Badou Jack an American citizen by way of Sweden. DeGale however is no stranger to fighting in front of a hostile crowd as his last three fights since teaming up with American based advisor Al Haymon have been on the road.
DeGale picked up the IBF title against Andre Dirrell by a unanimous decision victory, then travelling into the stomping ground of Lucian Bute’s Quebec City to pick up another unanimous decision victory and retain his title in front of a very electric atmosphere. He then completed his trio of away days by retaining his title for the second time against Porky Medina in what turned out to be a harder fight than expected.
His challenger, 33 year old Badou Jack is also been on a streak of highly skilled victories, picking up the WBC title against Anthony Dirrell, making his first defence against George Groves, the only man to ever beat James DeGale, and retaining his title again by picking up a draw against Lucian Bute in a controversial decision with most having Jack as the winner.
Watching ringside will be the mandatory challenger waiting in line to face who ever comes victorious on Saturday with undefeated 26 year old British, European & WBC Silver Super Middleweight champion Callum Smith 22-0-0 (17ko’s).
Smith looked incredible at the start of 2015 and seemed untouchable, picking up viscous knockout wins, picking up the British & European titles but since then his form has faded. He has stayed unbeaten but his path of destruction has slowly dwindled away as his choice of opponents haven’t bought the best out of him.
Since picking up the European title, blasting out Hadillah Mohoumadi in the first round, Smith has gone on to face Cesar Hernan Reynoso, Norbert Nemesapati and Luke Blackledge. These are not fights you would expect a mandatory challenger to be taking in preparation for a world title fight.
On the undercard of Jack v DeGale we have an extremely exciting and close fight as IBF Super Featherweight Jose Pedraza 22-0-0 (12ko’s) takes on 22 year old prospect Gervonta Davis 16-0-0 (15ko’s).
The Puerto Rican champion Pedraza will enter the fight as the favourite with the bookmakers as being the champion and having a more experienced resume is on his side. With wins such as Stephen Smith, Edner Cherry and Andrey Klimov under his belt, Pedraza is expected to have the technical ability that Gervonta will possess.
Gervonta however is an incredibly exciting prospect, blasting out 15 of his 16 opponents, quickly and destructively proving himself to be the real deal. Aged 22 is extremely young to be chucked in at the deep end against a fighter as experienced as Pedraza so Floyd Mayweather, Davis’ promoter must have extreme confidence in his young star.
The Super Featherweight is an extremely strong division to be in at the moment, with title holders such as Jose Pedraza, WBA Super champion Jezreel Corrales, WBC Champion Francisco Vargas and WBO champion, the Ukrainian wizard that is Vasyl Lomachenko.
At aged 22 Davis is certainly one to watch whether he comes out the fight successful or not, and with Jason Sosa stepping aside to allow the Gervonta Davis fight, you can expect the winner to face Sosa in hope of unifying the division.
If you had to put your house on it, you would go with the safe option of Pedraza purely down to resume, experience and age on his side but your heart would love to see Davis upset the odds with a heavy knockout as he’s definitely the more exciting fighter of the two.
On Friday night we see Cuban fighter Erislandy Lara 23-2-2 (13ko’s) defending his IBO & WBA Super Welterweight title against 36-year-old Yuri Foreman 34-2-0 (10ko’s). Anthony Dirrell faces Norbert Nemesapati on the undercard along with Miguel Cruz, Juan Payano & Joey Hernandez all making appearances.
Overall we have a great weekend of boxing ahead of us, and I’m going to have to pick James DeGale to come out victorious by a points decision. It’s not an easy call but DeGale has stated since teaming up with his knew strength and conditioning coach and nutritionist, he has made weight the best he’s ever done it.
Since losing to George Groves years ago, DeGale has progressed continuously and upset the odds time and time again to remain one of the best, if not the best Super Middleweight on the planet. Jack will certainly come to snatch the belt away from him and it will make for an extremely entertaining fight, but I’m picking DeGale on a close points victory.