DeGale vs Jack is a very decent matchup, and hopefully the start of more big Super Middleweight pairings in 2017. James DeGale and Badou Jack fly under the wing of PBC (Premier Boxing Champions), so it’s good to see honcho Al Haymon finally rolling the dice and pitting stablemate favourites against each other. With Haymon’s other in-house matchups, such as Keith Thurman vs Danny Garcia, coming up later this year, the forecast is looking bright.
Anyway, there’s not much to dislike about DeGale vs Jack, which sees two world titles on the line. DeGale is a 2008 Gold Olympian with a sharp toolset, looking to make the third defense of his IBF title. He’s smart, slick, and a big threat at 168 pounds mainly thanks to a tricky, unorthodox style. DeGale hasn’t yet been in with a true elite, but then again, how many 168 blue chip startups have in recent times? It’s hard to doubt DeGale’s talent, nonetheless. Andre Dirrell (UD 12) and Lucian Bute (UD 12) in 2015, and the gnarly Rogelio Medina (UD 12) last May, are very respectable, ladder-climbing scalps.
As for Jack, the man doesn’t stand out in any particular area, but is a very good all-rounder who’s surprised a lot of doubters. Including this writer. With that said, I’m still unsure just what level he is on in reality if you strip away the pretty WBC title that perhaps overstates his abilities to some extent. Jack convincingly outpointed George Groves in September 2015, his biggest and technically best win in my book. But Jack’s razor-thin, debatable victory over Anthony Dirrell in April that year, plus an April 2016 Draw over a still tough but fading Lucian Bute, makes you wonder whether something is missing.
At the end of the day, DeGale vs Jack is a good test for both men, and all the more intriguing because of the unknowns going in. DeGale looks the more naturally gifted guy, sure, but he’s also knocked by critics for languishing during fights, indicating his twelve-round tank or overinflated ego could be an issue down the line in tougher nights. What happens when he’s pushed hard for the entire stretch? Or loses too many rounds while he’s catching a breather? It’s a talking point. And it’s true that he hasn’t looked what you’d call particularly dominant in his past three fights. Just that bit better. As for the Dirrell fight, BB saw it a Draw.
With Jack, it’ll just be interesting to see how he deals with what could be a very awkward, even frustrating, task. DeGale is unpredictable, throws from unusual angles, and is fairly decent at adapting to opponents. Whatever happens, we should find out a great deal about both men. Following the outcome, my great hope is that the victor will pursue a unification defense against vicious rising contender Callum Smith. In reality, we’re likely looking at late 2017, probably 2018, granted.
Failing that, the Super Middleweight division (check out BB’s Updated Top 10) is lively enough to offer some fine alternative matchups for the winner and loser. You can catch the January 14th fight, plus the following appetizers, live on Sky Sports 1 and Showtime.
DeGale vs Jack: Undercard
- Jose Pedraza vs Gervonta Davis | 12 rounds | Junior Lightweight | Pedraza’s IBF title defense
- Amanda Serrano vs Yazmin Rivas | 12 rounds | Junior Featherwieght | Serrano’s WBO title defense
- Ievgen Khytrov vs Immanuwel Aleem | 10 rounds | Middleweight
- Adam Kownacki vs Joshua Tufte | 8 rounds | Heavyweight
- Thomas Dulorme vs Brian Jones | 8 rounds | Junior Welterweight
What’s your take on DeGale vs Jack, folks? Who leaves with two pieces of the Super Middleweight crown, and how does this New York affair play out? Unload your predictions!