By Eddie Ikin
James DeGale’s super-middleweight unification bout against Badou Jack ended in controversy.
The judges at ringside called it as a draw, with the Briton retaining his IBF title, while Jack kept his WBC belt. So what are DeGale’s options for the rest of 2017? We look at five potential bouts for the Londoner.
DeGale called for a rematch immediately after their disputed draw recently in New York City. However, Jack’s promoter, Floyd Mayweather, insisted his fighter’s future is at light-heavyweight rather than the current super-middleweight limit of 168lbs.
The WBC have since announced that Jack has vacated his title to move up a division, so unless DeGale does likewise, a rematch with the Swede looks unlikely.
If he’d stayed at super-middleweight, Jack was next due to face mandatory challenger Callum Smith, but he’s now bypassed the Liverpudlian.
Smith, 26, had also had his eye on Jack’s WBC version of the super-middleweight crown. The Matchroom fighter has shown patience, often facing mismatches whilst seeking his opportunity. A potential all-British clash with DeGale could be on the cards for Smith (22-0) following Jack’s decision to vacate his title.
The IBF say DeGale’s mandatory challenger is little-known Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui. The 26-1 fighter earned his shot at the southpaw with a second-round stoppage of Julius Jackson in October.
This would be a step down for Olympic gold medallist DeGale after his unification bout, but a necessity if he wishes to hang on to his title. Realistically, this looks like his next fight.
After their grudge match in May 2011, their prospective careers have gone in completely different directions. Despite it being a huge win for Groves, he then lost momentum. Two consecutive loses to Carl Froch, followed by a defeat at the hands of Jack, left Groves’ career teetering on a knife edge.
Despite this, his four fights since have produced decent wins, notably his victory over the durable Martin Murray last June. However, ‘Saint’ George (25-3) must get past Fedor Chudinov as he attempts to win a world title at the fourth time of asking.
If he does, a mouthwatering bout against his fellow Londoner with two world titles on the line could be in the offing later in 2017.
Perhaps the most unlikely of DeGale’s options is legendary two-weight champ, Felix Sturm. The German fighter (40-5-3) tested positive for steroids after his last fight, a win against Fedor Chudinov, just under a year ago.
The former WBO and WBA champion’s future is still unclear after he fled his native country to avoid prosecution. After four losses in his last eight contests, Sturm may not be the fighter he once was. At 37, he is clearly in the latter stages of his career, but this could be a good fight for DeGale to keep himself busy.
Clearly, it would need to be sanctioned by a national boxing board of control, which isn’t a formality, but don’t write this one off.