Badou Jack vs. James Degale for Super Middleweight Supremacy – January 14th
Where Are We Now?
Let’s face it, the Super middleweight division is arguably the weakest in boxing.
There is no big name in the division like a Canelo Alvarez. No unifying champion that’s cleaned out the division like GGG.
Not since Andre Ward has there been a significantly dominant presence at 168 pounds.
That may change after January 14th when Badou “The Ripper” Jack puts up his WBC title against James “Chunky” Degale and his IBF belt at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It will be winner take all!
Looks like things just got interesting again!
Fighting in a Mirror.
Interestingly, Jack and Degale have several opponents in common giving fans a significant scouting report. We can only speculate of course on the outcome of this title unification matchup and that’s the fun! That’s why we have the fights!
Let’s look at how each man handled these opponents and the implications for this bout.
Beating the Dirrell Brothers
On April 24th, 2015 Jack defeated “The Dawg” Anthony Dirrell by a majority decision taking his WBC title. Jack established his jab early employing it to attack Dirrell’s body setting up his overhand right. An intelligent strategy against a big puncher like Dirrell who brought an imposing 27-0 record with 22 KOs. Dirrell began the first three rounds with some wild flurries. Jack was patient and defensive. Jack showed improved defense due to his role as a sparring partner for the one and only Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Jack also showed a meanness and willingness to get physical tripping Dirrell several times and even going low on several occasions. Jack was the boss in the fight and though the cards were close he pulled away in the 10th round hurting Dirrell with a combination and backing the Champ up for the 11th and 12 round.
One month later James Degale faced Dirrell brother Andre in Boston Massachusetts for the vacant IBF title. The Brit was looking for some payback against the wayward colonies and took out The Crown’s frustrations on Andre from the beginning, knocking Andre down two times in the 2nd round with a short left hook behind a strong jab. Andre was tagged repeatedly by Degale pulling out of the pocket but managed to hurt Degale on the inside with a few chopping hooks to the head. Degale seemed to do his best work in the middle and long ranges, when he chose to box and use the ring he out classed Andre who grew more frustrated as the fight went on. Degale clearly took command of the fight by the 10th round landing a combination that backed Andre up. Degale used his superior ring IQ to take a unanimous decision victory.
Beating former Champ Lucian Bute
A native of Pechea, Romania, Bute has called Laval, Quebec, Canada home for several years endearing himself to Le Quebecois by becoming fluent in French. His pugilistic talent needs no translation, however. He was IBF Super Middleweight champion for nearly 5 years and has beaten men like William Joppy. James Degale went on the road to make his first defense in enemy territory fighting at the brand-new Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Quebec November 28, 2015. I would suggest to anyone to watch this fight, it is an instant classic. Degale came out aggressively, he had shaved his head like Marvin Hagler and quoting the All Time Great said he came “to destruct and destroy.” The first six rounds were close, it became a physical and grinding old school boxing match with both men taking the measure of each other exchanging elbows and shoulder strikes, though neither man took a backward step. Degale began to pull away with superior technique and angles, switching from his preferred southpaw to orthodox stance to create variety in his strikes. Degale’s hand speed and slick attack were too much for the former champion and Degale rightly took a unanimous decision.
In April 2016 Badou Jack defended his WBC belt against the same Lucian Bute. Jack was coming back after a seven-and-a-half-month layoff, his longest to that point. Future opponent James Degale stuck around for the main event and took in the fight from the stands. Jack in characteristic fashion, got off to slow start, though both men were tentative in the opening rounds. Jack brought his best weapon once he warmed to the task; a punishing body attack. Worth noting that Jack has 11 total knockdowns via body punches. Jack really began to occupy space against Bute taking over in rounds 4 and 5. Many believed including Degale seated in the crowd that he had gotten “the last good fight out of Bute,” implying that the 36-year-old Bute was shot from so many ring wars. Bute disagreed, coming on in the 10th round and won the 11th and 12th. Jack had made the error of letting off the gas allowing the big punching Bute to come back and steal the last few rounds resulting in a majority draw. A frustrating end. Though somewhat controversial the contested decision would be over shadowed by Bute flagging for the banned substance Ostrarine post fight. Per the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), though not a steroid, it can produce increased muscular endurance in users and was added to the banned list in 2008.
Against The ‘Opponent’
When a fighter is labeled “an opponent” it’s not a compliment. It is, however, a kinder moniker than ‘palooka’ ‘tomato can’ et al.
Marco Antonio Periban is “an opponent,” journeyman fighter that presents just enough of a threat to a fighter on his way up having fought some credible names but not elite. Periban had held the NABF Super Middleweight title, he had fought and KO’d Darnell Boone and lost a split decision to Sakio Bika. On September 12, 2013, a still green Badou Jack challenged for the minor title. Looking back at a fight like this you can see where Jack’s penchant for slow starts can hurt him in close fights. In this ten-round fight, Jack had to settle for a majority draw.
Fast forward a little more than a year in Liverpool England, James Degale dispatched with the rugged veteran Periban in three rounds. It didn’t help that Periban came in nearly two pounds over the Super Middleweight limit and looked softer than he usually does at that. Two looping hooks thrown from last Tuesday by Degale sent the Mexican to the canvas.
Both Degale and Jack had blistering success early in their pro careers with dominating KO wins. Each has faced some adversity along the way and how they rebounded says a lot about their character as boxers and men. Degale fought then British and Commonwealth Super Middleweight Champion “Saint” George Groves in May 2011. The two men had a feud in the amateurs that spilled over into the professional ring. There was a lot of trash talking especially from Degale though the fight was a bit more technical and contained.
Degale fought then British and Commonwealth Super Middleweight Champion “Saint” George Groves in May 2011. The two men had a feud in the amateurs that spilled over into the professional ring. There was a lot of trash talking especially from Degale though the fight was a bit more technical and contained. Degale established his Jab early and was more aggressive throughout, Groves was light on his feet and boxed beautifully on the back foot for most of the bout. In the end, the judges saw it for the champion. Degale had nothing to be ashamed of and an argument could be made that Degale won narrowly also.
Badou jack suffered his first and thus far only KO loss to Derek Edwards February 28th, 2014 by a perfectly-timed straight right-hand counter over Jack’s jab that could have felled a Rhinoceros. Jack rebounded after that devastating stoppage and became a champion.
Badou Jack also faced George Groves. That fight took place over four years after “St. George” fought Degale though in May 2015. Jack was defending the WBC belt he had just captured against Anthony Dirrell. He beat a diminished George Groves who lacked much of the foot work and movement he had been known for. Due credit to Jack’s body punching which is the best in the division and helped slow Groves down.
The Final Analysis
Neither man is a KO artist. Both have stoppages against lesser opponents, with the bulk early in their pro careers. Jack has no stoppage wins after the 6th round. James Degale has the edge in amateur experience winning a Gold Medal in the Olympics in 2008 and won Bronze in the British Commonwealth games in 2006. Badou Jack was a decorated Swedish National champion ’04-’08 but there is no comparison in their success on the European or World stage for that matter in the amateurs.
James Degale has the edge in amateur experience winning a Gold Medal in the Olympics in 2008 and won Bronze in the British Commonwealth games in 2006. Badou Jack was a decorated Swedish National champion ’04-’08 but there is no comparison in their success on the European or World stage for that matter in the amateurs.Degale has never been stopped, never been seriously hurt and is quite slick and crafty. He is a natural southpaw but will switch to orthodox to vary his attack and for a tidier defense protecting vulnerable targets like the liver.
Degale has never been stopped, never been seriously hurt and is quite slick and crafty. He is a natural southpaw but will switch to orthodox to vary his attack and for a tidier defense protecting vulnerable targets like the liver. Degale is not afraid to get mean in there, I think he’s more effective at the middle distance but has nice foot work and angles on the inside and that’s when he likes to step on the gas. Degale likes to be the boss, he will push a pace on Jack that he will not be comfortable with. I have noticed that Degale is the far cockier fighter and tends to take rounds off, especially late to clown and show boat. If early and middle rounds are tight Degale could give the fight away when he might have had it well in hand.
As I already mentioned Jack’s best weapon by far is a well-rounded body attack. He is effective with both hands to the body and makes excellent use of the jab to the body, a punch he no doubt honed in the Mayweather gym under Floyd Jr.’s watchful eye. Jack can crack, he does have power and is dangerous in the first six rounds. An early knock down of Degale is a real possibility. Jack is evolving and adding more tools all the time, his head trainer Eddy Mustafa Muhammad has developed a mean right hand with Jack and George Groves felt its power in the very first round. Jack is basic, though, he is evolving but he is not a complicated puzzle for a boxer like James Degale. He keeps a moderate pace and is a slow starter, he falters when he gets pressured and bullied, a fight could get away from Jack early if he’s not wide awake!
I see Degale with his pressure and varied attack being too much for Jack though an early knockdown of Degale would not surprise me. Degale should take command and take it early being weary of Jack’s body attack, Degale needs his legs to fight his kind of fight to be effective.
Next week on January 14th I see James Degale clawing back after some early setbacks to take a tight but unanimous decision unifying the Super Middleweight titles.