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DeGale wants world-class opponent in March; Dirrell, Oosthuizen and Rodriguez are his best options

Andre Dirrell James DeGale Thomas OosthuizenBy Thomas Cowan: British super middleweight contender James DeGale has announced he will be fighting on March 23, hopefully against a world class oppenent. DeGale is highly ranked with 3 out of the 4 major sanctioning bodies and needs to fight a world class fighter if he wants a title shot in 2013 or early 2014. Here’s how I see his options.

Thomas Oosthuizen looks like the best option for DeGale. The young South African is very highly-rated as a super-middleweight prospect and also holds the lightly regarded IBO title. Oosthuizen is unbeaten but hasn’t faced any opposition of great quality and I was disappointed to see him pass up a shot at IBF champion Carl Froch in 2012. DeGale has said he wants to fight in London and I think Oosthuizen could be willing to that this fight if the money is right because he’ll see the Brit as a beatable opponent who could boost his ranking and take him closer to a title shot.

Another option for DeGale is another unbeaten fighter, in the shape of Dominican Republic-born American Edwin Rodriguez. Rodriguez has looked good, but not great in his recent fights and I think this fight is a non-starter because I don’t think the American will come to Britain and I don’t see DeGale being prepared to travel to USA.

Another possible opponent for DeGale is Andre Dirrell. Dirrell’s has only fought once in nearly 3 years and is making his comeback Saturday against Milton Nunez. Assuming he makes light work of Nunez, there’s no reason the American can’t be back in the ring in late March. Dirrell has unfinished business with British fighters after a controversial decision loss to Carl Froch in 2009, although I think Dirrell brought that loss on himself because you can’t fight that negatively in another fighter’s hometown and expect to get a decision. You have to make the judges pick you by dominating the fight. However, fighting someone as highly ranked as DeGale would be great for Dirrell is he’s looking to quickly work his way back to the top of the division. Even though Dirrell isn’t highly ranked due to his inactivity, this is a good fight for DeGale because Dirrell showed he’s a good fighter by just losing out to Froch and dominating Arthur Abraham during the Super Six competition. There’s no doubt if DeGale could beat Dirrell then people would have to sit up and take notice.

I hope DeGale does step up and face one of these fighters because it’s time he started living up to all the hype that came with his impressive gold medal performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Unfortunately, I can see DeGale’s promoters trying muscle his way towards a title shot by facing a top 15 contender that they think DeGale can beat easily. If he does step up and face someone at a high level, then DeGale he needs to work on his power because he should have stopped Fulgencio Zuniga in December but he wasn’t clinical enough to manage it.

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