This weekend, the real start of the boxing season begins as two of the top guys at 168 pounds will clash from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Showtime Championship Boxing will be presenting a unification bout between the WBC World Super Middleweight Champion, Badou Jack, and the IBF World Super Middleweight Champion, James DeGale. The bout is being brought to you by Floyd Mayweather and Mayweather Promotions along with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport. The main undercard fight will be the IBF World Super Featherweight title holder, Jose Pedraza, squaring off against the 22-year-old up and coming Gervonta Davis.
The Swedish born Badou Jack comes into the ring with a record of 20-1-2 with 12 KOs. The young 27-year-old is in the prime of his career and is more known for his technical skills and his in-ring progress that he has had over the past two years. His only loss was getting knocked down twice and stopped in the 1st round by Derek Edwards. His two draws were both controversial and most people thought he beat Marco Antonio Periban and in my opinion, he obviously beat Lucian Bute in his last fight in April of last year. He hopes to prove to the world that he is the best in the division and will likely move to Light Heavyweight soon after this fight.
James Degale is looked at as 1 of the best fighters in the UK. The only blemish on his 23-1 (14 KOs) record is a controversial loss to George Groves, almost six years ago. The almost 31-year-old DeGale is a southpaw with solid pop. He’s coming off a less than impressive win against Porky Medina. A fight that I thought he won seven rounds to five, but many people scored it a draw. His most impressive wins came against Andre Dirrell and Lucian Bute. He is hoping to do that same as Jack, prove that he is the best Super Middleweight in the world. Unlike Jack, DeGale will probably stick around the division for a bit longer and contemplate a possible future fight with someone like a Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
It will be interesting to see if he fights with his typical style of having his gloves down, inviting the opponent to come in, similar to Sergio Martinez. Jack may not have a lot of pop, but he does have enough to knock DeGale down. I feel DeGale’s best shot is to catch Jack and knock Jack down early, ala Edwards. I think Jack will win most of the rounds and is the more technically sound fighter, because of that, I’m going with Jack by unanimous decision, in a seven to five rounds type of bout.
In the co-main event of Pedraza (22-0 with 12 KOs) vs. Davis (16-0 with 5 KOs), you have 2 undefeated, but not heavily tested guys that could make for a great Davis KO or a boxing lesson by Pedraza. This is a fight of the typical boxer vs. the fighter. Pedraza has good skills and has faced better competition in his last four (Michael Farenas, Andrey Klimov, Edner Cherry, and Stephen Smith), than anyone Davis has faced in his entire career. The Cherry fight was a controversial decision, but still a much better opponent than anyone on Gervonta’s resume thus far.
Davis has the advantage in power and youth, but his biggest known weakness is his defense. He has an all-out, who can hit harder, style. That can work against who he has been beating, but will that work against a boxer with skill? I can see this either being a spectacular KO in the 1st two rounds or a lot of swings and misses from Davis. I’m going to go with the latter and take Pedraza by decision, but I do caution that this is a Mayweather Promotions event, so I think Pedraza may win to the fans, just might not look the same on the judges scorecards.
All in all, this will be one of the better fights in the 1st quarter of the year. It may not be the type of fight that brings in casual fans, but it will be a legitimate fight with two legitimate champions that want to unify the division, and that’s something that you don’t always see from guys in boxing. It’s the 1st fight in Brooklyn in a while so hopefully the fans will come out and support the sport. No matter if you can make it there or not, Showtime network is definitely getting the boxing season off to a great start, so just sit back and enjoy the fights.