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DeGale’s fights for 2017: Jack, Smith and Groves

By Scott Gilfoid: IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) claims he has his focus entirely on his unification match against WBC champion Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) in their scheduled fight on January 14, but the 30-year-old DeGale’s mind seems to be wondering as he draws closer to that fight. DeGale is now looking past the Jack fight towards bigger money matches against British fighters Callum Smith and George Groves.

DeGale believes he can get all three of those fights in 2017 and win them all. I think DeGale is dreaming. He’ll be lucky if he gets past Badou in their fight on January 14 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

(Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME)

This is not a fight that’s taking place in the UK, which means that DeGale is going to be out there pretty much on his own without a lot of boxing fans cheering him on. If DeGale is going to beat Badou, then he’ll need to do it on effort alone, because I don’t see the close rounds going to DeGale.

Badou isn’t from the U.S either and has no real fans base to speak of. The Swedish fighter does make his home nowadays in Las Vegas, Nevada, as one of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s fighters in his Mayweather Promotions stable. That pretty much makes Badou a home fighter against DeGale.

DeGale said this to skysports.com about his big plans for 2017:

“I am fully focused on Badou Jack but 2017 is going to be a massive year for me,” said DeGale. “This should be the perfect year for me; me against Badou Jack, then Callum Smith and then Groves. Imagine that. This is going to be my year. You will see me unify the division out in America and then you will see my homecoming.”

I beg to disagree with DeGale about him being “fully focused on Badou Jack.” The man can’t be fully focused on Badou if he’s blabbering about wanting to fight Callum Smith and Groves. I hate to say it, but I think DeGale is heading for a big fall. We’re talking Humpty Dumpty here. Once Jack gets ahold of the distracted DeGale, I don’t know if they’re going to be able to pick up the pieces from him to put him back together in 2017. DeGale can forget about Callum Smith, George Groves and Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, because those fights will be off the table if he gets beaten by Badou.

DeGale will need to go back to square one to start fighting the likes of Christian Sanavia, Marco Antonio Periban and Sebastian Demers once again, because he sure isn’t going to be getting a crack at Callum Smith and Groves. It’ll be Badou that moves forward to fight Smith and possibly Groves if he still fancies that fight. Groves already got whipped by Badou once. I doubt that he wants a second helping of what Badou dished out.

DeGale might beat Badou Jack, because he’s obviously not unbeatable. We saw in Badou’s last fight against Lucian Bute that he can be beaten last April. The fight was scored a 12 round draw, but a lot of boxing fans felt that the 36-year-old Bute had done enough to deserve the victory.

Callum Smith is the real problem for DeGale. Smith is going to be waiting for DeGale, and he’ll be fresh because he’s not facing quality opposition yet at this point in his career. DeGale is likely going to take an awful lot of punishment in the Badou fight. If he wins that fight, it’s going to be a hard fought victory. Badou isn’t going to bow out without getting his pound of flesh. He’s going to inflict some damage on DeGale. I wouldn’t be surprised if DeGale comes into the Callum Smith fight still licking his wounds from the Badou.

A fresh 26-year-old Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) will be bad news for the worn out DeGale, who might need some time off to recover from the Badou fight. He’s not going to get that time off though. DeGale is going to need to get back into the ring and start training soon after his fight against Jack if he wants to fight three times in 2017. That’s how things go when you want to fight often. You have to get back in training camp and get ready again. DeGale is no spring chicken at 30. I don’t think DeGale is a young 30.

“We’ve got Gilberto Ramirez, a really good Mexican, so it is looking good what’s coming up. But I will show everyone I am the best out there, 100 per cent,” said DeGale.

If DeGale is going to fight the talented Gilberto Ramirez, it will need to wait until 2018. If DeGale gets his wish in facing Groves in 2017, then there won’t be any time for him to schedule a fourth fight against Ramirez this year. It’ll need to take place in 2018.

Anthony Joshua better than a 2:1 favorite to beat Wladimir Klitschko

IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) is more than a 2:1 favorite to beat the 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) in their fight on April 29, according to Fight News. It’s not all that surprising that Joshua is so heavily favored. I’m surprised that Joshua isn’t an 8:1 favorite, because Wladimir no longer looks capable of doing much other than hold and run around the ring for 12 rounds. If you could crown Wladimir based on him moving and holding, he’d be a world champion forever. Unfortunately, that’s not holding boxing is conducted. You have to throw punches and you need to put some effort into the fights. I haven’t seen effort from Wladimir since his 5th round knockout win over Kubrat Pulev in 2014.

Wladimir hasn’t fought in quite some time since his loss to Tyson Fury in November 2015. The way that Wladimir fought Fury showed that he had no ability to adapt on the fly. Heck, Wladimir seemed unable or unwilling to follow what was being told to him by his trainer Johnathan Banks and his brother Vitali Klitschko. On one hand you can understand a fighter not being able to adapt to a situation during a fight when he’s not being told the right things by his training team, but that wasn’t the case. Banks and Vitali were trying to get Wladimir to throw some punches, but he wouldn’t do it. He looked totally afraid.

Why Wladimir would be afraid to throw punches against a weak puncher like Tyson Fury is odd. All I can think is Wladimir was afraid to get knocked out, so he didn’t throw anything to leave himself open to Fury’s slapping shots. But with Wladimir facing a guy that can actually punch in Joshua, it’s impossible to see him throwing shots in this fight. As such, Joshua is probably going to have another Eric Molina type of opponent on his hands when he gets inside the ring on April 29 to fight Wladimir at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Wladimir won’t throw any punches, and he’ll end up getting taken apart in one to three rounds like Molina was last December.

Gilfoid finds it hard to understand guys like Molina and other fighters that fight Joshua. If it were me fighting Joshua, they’d have to pull me off of him, because I’d be opening up with both hands trying to get my money’s worth.




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