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James DeGale vs. Badou Jack negotiations close to done

James DeGale


By Scott Gilfoid: The negotiations for the unification fight between IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) and WBC 168lb champion Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) is close to getting done for a match that will be taking place in Badou’s home city of Las Vegas, Nevada.

DeGale, 30, doesn’t mind that he’ll be fighting in Badou’s hometown of Las Vegas, as he believes he’s going to win without any problems. The fact that both guys looked pretty much the same against a common opponent in Lucian Bute suggests that this fight will be anything but easy for DeGale. He might very well lose, especially with the fight being staged in Las Vegas.

“It’s nearly there,” DeGale said to skysports.com. “Everything hasn’t been confirmed fully yet, but it’s nearly there. I was just having a bit of banter with Badou Jack, saying make sure my belt is shiny and ready for when I beat you.”

This isn’t really a great fight, to be honest. Badou doesn’t have a large fan base in the U.S, and it’s hard to imagine a lot of boxing fans showing up in Vegas to see him fight DeGale. I won’t be surprised if they wind up giving away a lot of complimentary tickets to fans so that they can fill a lot of empty seats.

DeGale would be better off fighting someone like WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, Callum Smith or young talent David Benavidez. Those would at least be interesting fights. I could see DeGale struggling badly against all of them and maybe getting knocked out.

“All I want to do is have my unification fight and win that WBC title. I’m willing to go anywhere. It’s every boxer’s dream to go to Las Vegas. I’ve agreed to do that,” said DeGale.

I get the feeling that DeGale doesn’t have much of a fan base in his home country of the UK. Why else would he agree to fight in the U.S and why would be so eager to win meaningless paper titles against non-popular fighters like Badou. Perhaps DeGale is thinking that a win over Badou will validate his career and make him an important fighter.

I don’t believe that will happen. I also don’t see DeGale winning a lot of fans back in the UK from the fight against Badou. DeGale needs a big name like Gennady GGG Golovkin or Saul Canelo Alvarez if he wants to build up his fan base in the UK. DeGale should have been pushing hard for the Golovkin or Canelo fight. Maybe he would have lucked out the way that Kell Brook did in getting the fight against Golovkin. DeGale would then make out well with the huge load of cash he’d get from that fight in the same way that Brook will be doing.

DeGale did not look good in his last fight against Rogelio Medina last April in winning a tougher than expected 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 117-111, 116-112 and 117-111. DeGale got the win, but one got the sense watching it that he’d have been taken apart if he’d have fought a super middleweight that could really pressure him effectively for 12 rounds. Medina was too slow to keep the heat on DeGale for the full 12 rounds.

Badou, 32, looked equally bad in fighting to a 12 round draw against former IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute. The judges scored the fight 117-111 for Badou, and 114-114 and 114. Bute outworked Badou in the second half of the fight, and that’s why the contest was scored a draw. Badou wasn’t able to deal with the high work-rate from Bute.

This is going to be a really tough fight for DeGale, because he struggles against guys that put a lot of pressure on him. Badou likes to walk his opponents down and nail them with hard shots to the body. Trying to hit DeGale to the head is hard because he uses a loot of head movement, but he’s there to be hit to the body. If Badou fights like he always does by going after DeGale’s body, he could very well win this fight and take his IBF strap.

It’ll be interesting to see where the winner of the Bute vs. Badou fight goes in their next fight. Callum Smith will likely be their next fight.


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