DEGALE AND DIRRELL SET TO BATTLE IN BOSTON
By TOM WATT on May 20 2015
On Saturday night Boston will play host to a battle for the now vacant IBF Super Middleweight belt between two former Olympians - American Andre Dirrell, who took bronze in Greece in 2004 and Britain’s James DeGale who is looking to make history by being the first British Gold medallist to go on and become World Champion.
This will be Dirrell’s second World Title shot having lost to Carl Froch in 2009 challenging for the WBC belt and he will be looking for a different outcome against Froch’s compatriot this weekend. After that loss Dirrell faced off against Arthur Abraham and became the first man to beat the long-standing former World Champion. That win came with its price though and Dirrell was forced to take 21 months off with neurological issues and has since put together 5 straight wins (3 by KO) to force himself into the position to challenge again for that coveted World Title.
The man he faces has other plans and other dreams though, Britain’s James ‘Chunky’ DeGale feels that it his destiny to win on Saturday and is of the opinion that this is a chance he cannot afford to not take “I'm too good. People aren't going to give me the opportunities again because I'm too goof. No one is going to fight me for a voluntary defence so I've got to that this chance”. And DeGale may have a point, he has been banging at the door for a World Title for a while now and even after recent dominant wins over highly respected opponents such as Brandon Gonzales and Marco Antonio Periban, the then-Champion, Froch didn't see fit to take the all-British super-fight and vacated his title to allow Saturday’s match-up to go ahead. Froch claims it wasn't ‘exciting’ enough of a fight but after the undoubted success of his showdowns with DeGale’s long-standing rival, George Groves that led to the biggest post-war crowd ‘that night’ at Wembley Stadium it’s hard to imagine that the DeGale fight wouldn't create the buzz of a huge fight.
DeGale was vocal in his pursuit of the Froch fight but it never seemed likely to materialise and as he waited for Froch to vacate he said on multiple occasions that he truly believes he would beat the ‘Cobra’ and welcomed the opportunity to do so. It’s worth noting that DeGale’s only loss came against Groves in a grudge match that captured the public’s imagination in 2011 and Froch was always quick to point out that having beat Groves twice, he had nothing to prove. It seems unlikely that this fight will materialise further down the line but if DeGale is able to win on Saturday it may wet the appetite of the former Champion.
A win for DeGale could also lead to the chance to avenge that loss to Groves should he choose to do so, Groves is mandatory challenger for the WBC strap held by Badou Jack (who beat Andre’s brother Anthony Dirrell to win the Title) and an all-British unification fight would be the biggest pay-day available to either fighter, not to mention the pairs ongoing feud – the build-up to their first fight wasn't short of entertainment and the rematch would be unlikely to disappoint.
For now though focus much switch to the tough fight on Saturday night, Dirrell is a talented and rugged opponent and the confident DeGale will have to be at the top of his game if he is to achieve his dream. There is no doubt he holds the talent necessary to win as his two most recent victories in particular demonstrate. A win for DeGale will be another in a long line of recent success stories for British Boxing and Eddie Hearn's Matchroom stable which now boasts some of the Worlds best talent including the IBF Welterweight Champion Kell Brook and Heavyweight superstar in waiting, Anthony Joshua - who will both be part of the huge show at the o2 at the end of May in London.
Hearn will be in Boston on Saturday to support his fighter and will be hoping for similar scenes to the ones at the StubHub center when he flew out to watch Brook capture his World Title. For both Hearn and DeGale the most important thing is that the Brit's hand is raised, to do so in style would send a message to the talent-rich division and may even be enough to warrant a big-money showdown with the Belt's former holder, Carl Froch. However, Dirrell will have plans of his own come Saturday night and having seen his brother miss out on WBC glory he will be hungry to make sure his second attempt at a World Title doesn't go begging. I expect nothing less than a close fight between two determined and talented fighters but would have to make DeGale the slight favourite to be hear his name after those important words, "And the New".
1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
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