Friday, 7 December 2012

DeGale back on world glory path!

By James McKnight @Mckjimbo.

To many in and out of the boxing World, James DeGale comes across as a brash and egotistical individual which is met with disapproval. His performances in the ring have not persuaded these viewers to believe his own hype, but on Saturday 8th December, he has the chance to gain their respect and approval. 

As you should know by now, DeGale (13-1-0, 9 KO's), is 26. In 2008, he represented Great Britain at the summer Olympics in Beijing winning the middleweight Gold Medal. Not long after this triumph he turned pro signing for Frank Warren's promotional company. Big things were predicted for 'Chunky'. 

2010 was an excellent year for him.  In only his seventh pro fight, he took on Sam Horton for the vacant WBA International super-middleweight title. This was to be a first 12 rounder for 'Chunky'. After only 5 rounds, DeGale eventually overwhelmed Horton and this forced his corner to throw in the towel. Four months later, he successfully defended the title. His opponent this time was Carl Dilks, but this contest lasted only 2 minutes 54 seconds of round 1. 

DeGale's next fight may be classed as his finest performance since turning pro. Not only did he dominate Paul Smith over 9 rounds, the fight was staged in Liverpool - the City where Smith was born. The win was that much more emphatic as it was the first time Smith had been stopped as a pro. DeGale secured the BBBofC British super-middleweight title that night. 

Enter George Groves, or as DeGale liked to call him several times before their May 2011 domestic showdown ''ugly kid''.  

You all know the story between these two, so I don't need to go into detail. After 12 close rounds, Groves was awarded the win via majority decision, but many who saw the fight believed it was very close and it could have swung either way. This was the last thing 'Chunky' wanted. His ego took a significant blow. He had to swallow his pride. He had to accept the defeat, recompose himself and move on. 

Almost five months after losing for the first time as a pro, DeGale was back in the ring. He got back to winning ways after claiming the EBU (European) super-middleweight title against Piotr Wilczewski of Poland. DeGale had to show grit and determination in winning the fight which he won via a close majority decision. 

In his next fight in April 2012, he was in dominant form as he defended the European title against Italy's Cristian Sanavia. The fight lasted only 4 rounds and saw Sanavia decked 4 times in total. DeGale's size and power was too much for his opponent to handle. 

In the lead up to his next fight in October against Frenchman, Hadillah Mohoumadi, DeGale split from Frank Warren's promotional company and signed with Hennessy sports.  

Throughout the Mohoumadi fight, DeGale was given a thorough examination. He boxed and moved well but also struggled to cope with the Frenchman's aggressive style. 'Chunky' was awarded the unanimous decision. 

And here we are. 

DeGale steps back in the ring this Saturday to face Fulgencio Zuniga for the vacant WBC 'Silver' super-middleweight title. 

He was initially set to face Kenny Anderson, but the apparent reason why the Scot pulled out of the fight was because when agreeing terms he was told that DeGale's EBU (European) super-middleweight belt was not going to be on offer and that DeGale was going to be challenging for his British super-middleweight title. The fight with Zuniga was then announced. 
Zuniga (25-6-1, 22 KO's), is 35 and from Columbia. He has been in with some top World class opposition over the years, including the likes of Kelly Pavlik, Denis Inkin, Lucian Bute, Tavoris Cloud and most recently unbeaten South African, Thomas Oosthuizen.

After dropping Pavlik in the first round in their 2005 meeting, Zuniga was determined to not be beaten, but despite giving it his best shot the fight was stopped in the 9th round as his corner threw in the towel. His fight against Inkin in 2008 was considered very controversial because even though Inkin was awarded a wide unanimous points decision, some feel Zuniga won the fight as he outworked his Man more throughout. In 2009 though, he was destroyed against Romanian born southpaw, Lucian Bute, in only 4 rounds. Zuniga was game, but was not able to match Bute's power, speed or timing.

Against Cloud, he responded from getting dropped in the fifth round to give the American a tough examination, but Cloud was awarded the win by unanimous decision.
He went the distance in his most recent fight against super-middleweight World title contender, Thomas Oosthuizen. The South African was made to work though in winning a unanimous points decision. 

Fans feel that Zuniga is not quite World class material as whenever he stepped up to the big plate he was not good enough. At 35, they say he's too old now to compete against the likes of DeGale who is young and still fresh. As we know though, this is not always the case. He  is a very tough opponent and he likes to throw punches and he has power. I think he will provide DeGale a stern test throughout the fight and has every chance of upsetting the odds. 
If  'Chunky' really wants a shot at the prestigious World titles in the near future then first he must get passed Zuniga. His critics will be watching and hoping he fails miserably. He will need to produce a top display. If he can get the job and even do it inside the distance, well, that would speak volumes. 

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