This weekend sees the long-awaited unification fight between James DeGale and Badou Jack to determine who is top dog in boxing’s super-middleweight division. IBF champion DeGale and WBC title-holder Jack meet for the first time in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in New York this Saturday night in a contest that Britain’s DeGale has been waiting a long time for.
Before defending his IBF title against Rogelio Medina in Washington in April, when he boxed on the same card as Badou Jack, DeGale stated that if he won, he wanted a unification fight that September in the UK. Instead, he’s had to wait a little longer and is getting set for his fourth consecutive fight in North America.
Having defended his title for the second time against Medina last year, it’s set to be a big year for the 30 year-old from London. Should he win this weekend’s fight and unify the two titles, DeGale would face Callum Smith – the mandatory challenger for the winner – which could then set up a possible meeting with his old foe George Groves.
After so many fights in America, DeGale is keen for a big one in his hometown of London, particularly if it’s against Groves – the only man to beat “Chunky” in his 24 professional fights:
"I used to go past Wembley during my training runs and I’ve always wanted to fight there. It could still happen. Against someone like George Groves, it would sell 80,000."
For now, though, his focus is on Badou Jack, the 33 year-old US-based Swede. Jack is part of Floyd Mayweather’s Mayweather Promotions team and won his WBC title in 2015 when he surprisingly defeated Anthony Dirrell. Like DeGale, he has defended his title twice, against Groves in September 2015 and Lucian Bute last year.
In 23 professional fights, he has won 20 (12 of them by knockout), drawn two and lost one. His last 18 fights have all been in the US, so he should certainly feel at home on Saturday night. However, DeGale is strongly favoured in the betting odds to make it another successful night for British boxing. The best odds you can get for the Londoner to win are currently 2/5 with Ladbrokes, while Jack is as long as 12/5 with bet365 to unify the two titles.
When looking at the stats, the two men have similar records and have had similar careers, but despite being three years younger DeGale arguably has the greater pedigree at higher levels. Both men took part in the 2008 Olympics as amateurs but while Jack lost his first fight, DeGale went on to win the gold medal.
However, punters should be wary of dismissing the Swede too quickly. After all, he is a boxer that likes to upset the odds. He was the underdog when he won his WBC title against Anthony Dirrell, and again when he defended it against George Groves, although he only won that fight after a controversial split decision. He is certainly capable of defeating James DeGale, but if DeGale performs to his best, there is a good chance the WBC belt will be coming back to Britain.
Despite DeGale being the strong favourite in the betting for Saturday night’s fight, the bookmakers are expecting it to go the distance. Both men are considered ‘distance fighters’, and have both won their last three fights by decision.
DeGale has won 14 of his 24 fights by knockout, a slightly higher KO percentage than his opponent. The bookies do not think this contest will be won by knockout, though. Coral are offering odds of 8/11 for DeGale to win by decision. In contrast, Jack to win by knockout is 7/1 with Betway, while a draw is 25/1 with Paddy Power.
In terms of round betting, DeGale to win in Round One is 110/1 with Betfair, while an eleventh round victory for the Brit is 40/1 with bet365. If you fancy a flutter on Saturday’s big fight, head to Ladbrokes today for a great range of online boxing betting markets and exclusive promotions!