This weekends boxing action is headlined by the huge super middleweight unification fight out of New York with IBF titlist James DeGale unifying with WBC titlist Beau Jack with an IBF junior lightweight title fight on the undercard. Also featuring this weekend is Cuban star Erislandy Lara defending his WBA junior middlweight title against former Miguel Cotto victim Yuri Foreman. There is no action domestically but Australian heavyweight champion travels to Japan to take on former K-1 star and now full-time boxer Kyotaro Fujimoto for the vacant OPBF heavyweight title.
James DeGale vs Badou Jack
Vacant Ring Magazine world championship, WBC/IBF world titles
New York, USA
Television- Fox Sports 5, 1.30pm Sunday 15 Jan
Australian fight fans are being treated to a lot of Showtime fights free to air on Fox Sports. It’s expected to continue with the huge welterweight showdown between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia later this year as well as the Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz rematch but first up is the entirely under-hyped super middleweight unification bout between WBC titlist Badou Jack and IBF titlist James DeGale.
DeGale (23-1, 14 KO) took the vacant IBF title by defeating Andre Dirrell in 2015 following Carl Froch’s retirement. He has since defended it twice with a clear cut decision wins over former champion Lucian Bute and Italy’s Rogelio Medina. DeGale’s sole career loss was via razor thin decision to George Groves back in May 2011. Groves and DeGale were amateur rivals with Groves defeating DeGale in the unpaid ranks before DeGale went on to win the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. Groves win over DeGale for the Commonwealth title in 2011 was a huge upset and a huge fight for British boxing but DeGale has bounced back well while Groves’ career has slid following his losses to Carl Froch in 2014.
Badou Jack (20-1-2, 13 KO) took the WBC title from Anthony Dirrell, who defeated Sakio Bika for the WBC title and was making his first defence of the title. Jack showed he was one of the top super middleweight’s in the world in his next fight with a majority decision win over George Groves on the Mayweather-Berto undercard and was unlucky not to get the decision over Lucian Bute in a fight that he clearly won (Bute later tested positive for banned substances). Jack’s only loss was in 2014, a surprise first round knockout against Derek Edwards, who has since lost his last three bouts.
DeGale should be the favourite but Jack has surprised people in his last three fights and a lot of people were expecting him to lose all three. This is a fight between two of the top three super middleweights in the world and Ring Magazine has put their vacant title on the line for the winner. WBO champ Gilberto Ramirez, in my opinion, is the top super middleweight in the world following his domination over Arthur Abraham, who had established himself as the best super middleweight behind Carl Froch with wins over Robedrt Stieglitz and Martin Murray. DeGale has the edge in speed for me and I think this will be the difference. I expect this one to go 12 rounds and Jack will likely make it close but DeGale should be able to control the fight with his hand and foot speed and take a close decision.
The undercard sees an IBF junior lightweight title fight between Jose Pedraza and Gervonta Davis. The title has gone to Pedraza after Rances Barthelemy moved up to lightweight and Pedraza is making his third defence. Davis, a 2012 national golden gloves champion, is taking a significant step up in class, competing in his first 12 round fight but has a thirsd round knockout over former title holder Cristobal Cruz on his record. A women’s world title fight between one of the best women’s boxers in the world Amanda Serrano and former WBC bantamweight champion Yazmin Rivas for the WBO junior featherweight title and a middleweight contest featuring Ukraine’s former world amateur champion Ievgen Khytrov make up the rest of the card.
Erislandy Lara vs Yuri Foreman
WBA junior middleweight title
A non televised fight on Australian TV, Lara is making a rather routine defence against Foreman, who hasn’t really done a whole lot since losing back to back fights against Miguel Cotto and Pawel Wolak in 2010 and 2011. Lara won’t pressure Foreman as much, which might give Foreman a chance as his losses were both against pressure fighters, but Lara is too slick and technical and should win a wide decision.
Kyotaro Fujimoto vs Wille Nasio
Vacant OPBF heavyweight title
Kyotaro Fujimoto (15-1, 8 KO) is a former K-1 fighter who was being built up as the next Japanese star after wins over Peter Aerts and Jerome Le Banner but after losses to Semmy Schilt and Gegard Mousasi in 2010 he switched to boxing. His one loss was to Solomon Haumono by knockout the last time he went for the OPBF title. He has since won the Japanese national title and has defeated middleweight boxer Nobuhiro Ishida on points (Ishida is a notoriously tough middleweight who was only stopped by Gennady Golovkin and has a first round knockout win over James Kirkland) and scored wins over Peter Okhello and Australia’s Nathan McKay.
Nasio (10-1, 9 KO) is coming off a fourth round stoppage over Hunter Sam and his only loss was to Tai Tuivasa in a one night tournament in the fourth fight of his pro career. He’s also defeated Nathan McKay, although his win was via first round knockout and Kyotaro went 8 rounds with McKay. Nasio should be the favourite in this fight, Kyotaro has trouble keeping strong guys at a distance and he doesn’t have huge power for a heavyweight. If Nasio takes his time and puts on steady pressure he should be able to break down Kyotaro the same way Haumono did and force a mid round stoppage.