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DeGale looking forward to Callum Smith and Groves fights after Badou

Image: DeGale looking forward to Callum Smith and Groves fights after Badou

By Scott Gilfoid: IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) is already looking past his January 14 unification match against WBC champ Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) for a fight against WBC mandatory Callum Smith and then what could be a unification match against George Groves if he gets past Fedor Chudinov.

DeGale, 30, has to win his fight against the highly talented pressure fighter Badou Jack first next month in their match at the beautiful Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. That’s a toss-up fight. Badou has got the fighting style that could give DeGale huge headaches, especially with his body punches.

DeGale doesn’t seem to like it to the body for some reason. He can take a head shot all day long, but when he gets hit to the body, DeGale seems to wilt and retreat to the ropes to make himself small. If you look at DeGale’s fights, when he gets hit to the body a lot, he’ll back up to the ropes and bend forward to keep his opponents from being able to hit him with any further body shots. It’s pretty clever stuff from DeGale. I just don’t know if it’s going to work against an experienced body puncher like the 33-year-old Badou.

“It’s a massive fight over here and I’ll be looking forward to it,” said DeGale to Sky Sports News HQ.”That is the plan. Next April, May time I’m coming back home 100 per cent. When I get through Jack – which is a hard fight by the way – I’m coming back at The O2 or The Emirates, we’re going to do it.”

Callum Smith and Groves will be very hard fights for DeGale right now. I think he might lose to both. Groves has improved since his loss to Jack last year. Groves is no longer gassing out like he was in the past, and he’s punching as hard as ever. I think Groves would be bad news for DeGale right about now.

Callum Smith punches really hard and he never stops coming forward. I can’t see DeGale winning that fight. The 2012 version of DeGale might beat Callum with his movement, but not the 2016 version. DeGale is looking tired now like an aging fighter. He’s only 30, but sometimes 30 is the equivalent of a 40-year-old fighter with some guys. Some fighters age quicker than others.

I think DeGale is one of those guys. Groves and Callum Smith seem to be hitting their prime right now. Groves will likely beat Fedor Chudinov to capture the WBA ‘Super’ super middleweight title in early 2017. If DeGale gets past Badou AND Callum Smith, then a unification fight against Groves would be HUGE in 2017. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. DeGale is about to run through a gauntlet in his fights against Badou and Smith. I can’t see him winning both of those fights. I think DeGale will lose to one of those guys, and that will wreck a potential big money rematch against Groves in 2017.

This is what I was afraid of. DeGale beats a couple of guys in title defenses for his IBF belt, and then it goes to his head and he starts overlooking good fighters like Badou. That’s what happens. DeGale would have lost to Andre Dirrell last year if he didn’t get those two flash knockdowns.

Dirrell was the better fighter on the night. After that, DeGale beat former IBF 168lb champion Lucian Bute by a 12 round unanimous decision in November 2015. I’ve seen the DeGale-Bute fight six times now, and I scored it a draw each time. DeGale didn’t win that fight. He won it on the three judges’ scorecards, but he didn’t win it in Gilfoid’s book. The judges scored the fight 117-111, 117-111 and 116-112. Gilfoid scored it 114-114. Sorry, DeGale, you weren’t good enough to rate a win over Bute in my eyes.

DeGale has a very good chance of losing to Badou on January 14. The fight is taking place in the U.S, not the UK, and he’s fighting one of the best pressure fighters in boxing in Badou. Look at what Badou did to Anthony Dirrell and Groves. He wore them down with his pressure and body punching. Badou just never stops coming forward. DeGale is likely going to wind up perched on the ropes all night against him, and he’s going to be a sitting duck.

DeGale used to be able to move around the ring a lot when he first turned pro four years ago, but he’s now a guy that mainly hangs on the ropes looking to cover up and throw counter shots. It’s the way that aging fighters tend to fight. They need to rest their weary legs by leaning against the ropes. DeGale did not look good in his last fight against #1 IBF Rogelio Medina last April at the DC Armory in Washington, DC. DeGale won the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 117-11, 116-112 and 117-111. I thought the fight should have been scored 116-112 for DeGale. The 117-111 scores were too high, and they didn’t give Medina credit for all the shots that he was landing to the head and body of DeGale. That was a fight that was very, very close going into the 8th. DeGale was able to turn up his punch output a notch to run away with the fight. Medina didn’t have that extra gear to keep up with DeGale. A good fighter like Badou WILL have the ability switch gears to ramp up his offense into overdrive if he needs to in the championship rounds. If DeGale is going to beat Badou, then he’s going to need to show something that he hasn’t shown yet in his game.

“If I win against Badou Jack, my mandatory challenger is Callum Smith,” said DeGale. “Can you imagine that as a homecoming at The O2 or the Emirates?”

DeGale is making a major mistake in looking past the Badou fight. He needs to realize that he could have lost to Andre Dirrell, and his recent fight against Bute was little more than a draw. In other words, DeGale just isn’t that good for him to be looking past anyone right now. If I’m DeGale, I’d be working on my boxing skills and trying to improve my running, because I would know that I would need to run from Badou on January 14 to keep from getting battered into the canvas. I’m just saying.

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