Fight night fast approaching and one of the busiest bills for some time, my first wonder was how these will all be squeezed in on one night.
With a fascinating Super-Middleweight sub-plot to the main event, let’s look at the fights in more detail:
JAMES DEGALE VS MARCO ANTONIO PERIBAN
12 x 3 mins Super Middleweight contest
IBF mandatory challenger DeGale (19-1: 13 KO’s) could end up fighting for a vacant title in the New Year. Champion Carl Froch has faced two back to back mandatory challenges from George Groves and is lukewarm to the prospect of a third.
The Cobra wants to fulfill a live-long ambition of headlining a Las Vegas card against an illustrious name – with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr mooted as the man in the frame. DeGale he feels Froch is “dodging” him but I disagree.
The 28 yr old won in emphatic fashion in May with a career-best performance stopping Brandon Gonzalez in-front of a packed Wembley Stadium. The level DeGale is now operating at there is no such thing as an easy opponent and that is evident with the fight against Mexican Periban (20-2-1: 13 KO’s) this Saturday.
Periban is a live, aggressive opponent and not a man to take lightly. With only 2 blotches on his copybook in the form of losses to J’Leon Love and Sakio Bika both on points. The Love defeat I felt was a robbery as he was gone in the fifth, the ref spared the American a career-first defeat.
Chunky needs to win; and win well – if he is to have any chance to charm the Cobra in to dancing with him. I expect DeGale to look sizzling and take a unanimous points decision.
SCOTT QUIGG VS HIDENORI OTAKE
12 x 3 mins WBA World Super Bantamweight title
I feel sorry for Quigg, the fights he craves Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton don’t appear to be any closer to fruition. Up next on Saturday is Otake who is a replacement for the injured Shingo Wake, who damaged his ankle. Wake was allegedly photographed running on it shortly after.
Otake (22-1: 9 KO’s) hasn’t boxed out of Japan before but is ranked #3 with the IBF and #9 with the WBO. A credible opponent for Quigg, but anything other than a mid to late stoppage for the 26 yr old would be a huge shock.
JAMIE MCDONNELL VS JAVIER CHACON
12 x 3 mins WBA World Bantamweight title
New father McDonnell (24-0: 11KO’s) make his first defence of his WBA Bantamweight title against relatively unknown Javier Chacon. Chacon tackled Super champion Anselmo Moreno earlier in the year, taking the Panamanian the distance, and the Argentine replaces Walberto Ramos on the bill after the Columbian had visa complications.
The caveat for the 28 yr old McDonnell with a win is a Las Vegas unification bout with Tomoki Kameda WBO champion early 2015.
Kameda (31-0: 19 KO’s) is the youngest of a famous Japanese family-fighting-trio and regarded as the top fighter at 118lbs. Should McDonnell as expected get past Chacon, he will face Kameda as a huge underdog – but he will relish the opportunity to test himself against the very best.
ANTHONY JOSHUA VS MICHAEL SPROTT
10 x 3 mins British Heavyweight title eliminator
Sprott (47-22: 17 KO’s) is Joshua’s 10th opponent, and I expect his most ruthless and spiteful performance to date. I was there at the O2 spitting distance from where AJ battered Denis Bakhtov last month and few would have blamed Sprott not fancying it.
Credit to the 39 yr old when asked by promoter Eddie Hearn if he still wants the fight he responded by saying;
“Of course I do, I’m going to knock him out.”
What impressed me most with the 25 yr old Watford man is his nasty streak that has evolved – all great fighters have that in their locker. If Sprott goes more than 3 rounds I will be amazed.
With speculation rife that charismatic Kevin Johnson is already signed to face Joshua in January, I feel he is only 2 fights away from facing Dereck Chisora or David Price in a blockbuster Heavyweight showdown.
CALLUM SMITH VS NIKOLA SJEKLOCA
12 x 3 mins WBC Super Middleweight title official eliminator
Three is a crowd as they say and that definitely is the case with Callum Smith in the Groves & DeGale saga. Smith (14-0: 11KO’s) is the elephant in the room that prior to Ringside last month neither man wanted to acknowledge.
He is the real deal – from people I speak to within the industry I’ve yet to encounter anyone who doesn’t rave about him.
What I feel is a masterstroke is that the 24 yr old is now in an eliminator for the WBC on Saturday with the likelihood of a fight with George Groves growing ever closer.
Smith’s camp fancy their chances against Groves. They have sparred together and Callum more than held his own allegedly knocking Groves down a few times. Whilst rumours are always rife from sparring and elements do need to be taken with a pinch of salt, there is a genuine feeling that Groves peaked against Froch in the first fight and is vulnerable.
First Mundo needs to navigate past Sjekloca (28-2: 8KO’s) a former world title challenger with 2 defeats coming against Arthur Abraham and Sakio Bika. I expect it to be a stern test for Callum but one I feel he will grind out down the stretch taking a late stoppage or point’s decision.
GEORGE GROVES VS DENIS DOUGLIN
12 x 3 mins WBC Silver Super Middleweight title
Saint George(20-2: 15KO’s) faces American “Mama’s Boy” Denis Douglin.
Douglin (17-3: 10KO’s) is famously trained by his mother and has lost to Jermell Charlo and Jose Angel Rodriguez. I don’t expect Douglin to trouble the 26 yr old from Hammersmith a great deal – but if the recent Rebrasse fight is anything to go by he could make this look harder than it actually is.
Like most I did feel that Groves’ performance flattered Rebrasse and he looked very gaunt at the weigh-in. With lucrative domestic fights at 168lbs with Callum Smith and a rematch with James Degale, a move up to Light-Heavy will be postponed for a few years.
The rivalry with DeGale goes back to when both men were amateurs at Dale Youth – both vying for the “top boy” status in the club. For me it is the bitterest rivalry in British boxing – even surpassing Tony Bellew & Nathan Cleverly and Kell Brook’s with Amir Khan.
If both Groves and DeGale can secure World titles it would make for a huge rematch – but Callum Smith is also in the mix!
Watch this space over the next 12-18mths as we are in-line for some great fights in the UK.
VINCENT FEIGENBUTZ VS LORENZO DI GIACOMO
The dark horse in the 168lb division is in the shape of German teenager Vincent Feigenbutz. The 19 yr old is built like a tank and has knocked out 15 of his 16 opponents so far.
I don’t think so. I’m looking forward to watching him accelerate in the slipstream of the 3 Brits over the next coming years.