DeGale wants Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev
By Scott Gilfoid: IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale (22-1, 14 KOs) has struggled to win his last two fights against Lucian Bute and Andre Dirrell in fights that he could have easily lost if those fighters had did just a tad bit more.
The victories seemed to have given the 30-year-old DeGale a huge surge of confidence because he is now talking about wanting to move up to light heavyweight to take on the best fighters in WBC champion Adonis Stevenson and IBF/WBA/WBO Sergey Kovalev.
DeGale says he is still in the thinking stage of deciding whether to move up to 175 or not. I would have to imagine that his promoter Eddie Hearn would have his two-cents to throw into the decision for DeGale. He’s taking on the hard hitting Rogelio Medina (36-6, 30 KOs) this Saturday night at the DC Armory, in Washington, District of Columbia.
If DeGale wins that fight, he is supposed to be fighting the winner of Lucian Bute vs. Badou Jack fight, which will be taking place on the same card this Saturday night, in September in a unification fight. For the sake of argument, let us pretend DeGale wins those two fights to become the new WBC champion in addition to being the IBF belt holder.
DeGale would still have a number of interesting fights available to him against Callum Smith, George Groves and Gilberto Ramirez. Those three good fights would still be out there for DeGale if he were to stay at 168.
“My last two performances have been against the best in the division in Andre Dirrell and Lucian Bute,” DeGale said to thestar.co.uk. “I’ve beaten those guys and after this one I can become undisputed champion and then I’m looking for the biggest fights. I’m thinking about moving up to light-heavyweight and fight the likes of Adonis Stevenson. Sergey Kovalev is the best and is another one but Stevenson is probably a better opponent for me first. I could stay at super-middleweight and box domestic guys but worldwide would I be known as the best for doing that?”
I wouldn’t want to see DeGale face Stevenson. That would be a huge mismatch. Stevenson is so much faster and more powerful than DeGale, even at 39. If DeGale takes that fight, I see him reduced to rubble by the 6th round. We saw what Stevenson did to Tony Bellew a few years ago, and I could see Stevenson doing even worse to DeGale because he doesn’t have the punching power to make the southpaw Stevenson to respect him.
If DeGale just wants to go up to the light heavyweight to get a payday in a fight that he knows he would likely lose badly to Stevenson or Kovalev, then I could understand that move. But if DeGale is planning on moving up to light heavyweight an staying in that weight class, I think it would be a mistake on his part. There are some real solid fighters in the 175lb division besides Kovalev and Stevenson that would be a train wreck for DeGale.
If you throw DeGale in the ring with the likes of Artur Beterbiev, Andre Ward, Edwin Rodriguez, Elieder Alvarez, Andrzej Fonfara, Yyacheslav Shabranskyy, Marcus Browne, and Jean Pascal. Heck, even Yonieski Gonzalez would likely be a serious nightmare for Gonzalez, and so would Juergen Braehmer. I mean, I don’t think DeGale’s promoter Hearn would dare risk his hide putting him in with those guys, but it would sure look bad if DeGale moved up to 175 and skipped all the good fighters to get a world title shot. We’re seeing that with Bellew getting a shot at a vacant WBC cruiserweight title against Ilunga Makabu next month on May 29 despite the fact that Bellew has leapfrogged over the top talents in the division to get that title shot after moving up in weight from the light heavyweight division a couple of years ago.
DeGale wants to carve a legacy for himself and that’s why he’s interested in taking on the top light heavyweights. I can respect that, but I think DeGale should have to earn a crack at the likes of Kovalev and Stevenson. If DeGale would just fight Beterbiev, I think he would have earned a title shot. But will Hearn put DeGale in with a talent like Beterbiev? I see that as a big no.