The cream of British boxing will put its collective body on the line in a night which could rattle the bolts out of London’s Copper Box Arena.
With IBF super middleweight kingpin James DeGale facing tricky American Caleb Truax, and Welsh wizard Lee Selby putting his featherweight strap on the line against rated Mexican speed merchant Eduardo Ramirez, our boxing odds expert Mark Sylvester attempts to untangle the outcomes through a flurry of leather.
So, James ‘Chunky’ DeGale can finally put his battered passport away and welcome an opponent to his own backyard!
Not since November 2014 has DeGale fought on British soil, with boxing’s mandarins keeping him occupied in the US and Canada for his last four fights.
And if the Hammersmith fighter needs any psychological boost before climbing through the ropes against Traux, the memory of that November night against Marco Antonio Peribán in Liverpool will help turbo-charge his engine.
Periban hardly had his robe off before DeGale descended on him like a punch-hungry tsunami, and the brace of lefts that ended the fight in the third were probably a strangely sweet relief for the Mexican.
It was the win that finally rested the ghost of that devastating defeat back in 2011 to bitter rival George Groves, put DeGale in the frame for his IBF title shot against Andre Dirrell and his tour of North America.
— BoxNation (@boxnationtv) December 4, 2017
DeGale has some of the worst kept secret weapons in the fight game – a brutal right jab that pulverises defences ahead of a big left, razor-sharp combos and dancing footwork.
He dropped Dirrell twice, before fending off a plucky comeback from the then-champ, to claim super middleweight gold.
Having also outpointed former five-year-reigning world champ Lucian Bute in a proper scrapyard dogfight, clinically disposed of Rogelio Medina, and walked away with a draw from what can only be described as a war zone with Badou Jack, some have questioned whether Traux is worthy to wash DeGale’s wraps.
And to be fair DeGale has been there, punched that, and has the belt to prove it.
The IBF champ may have deservedly left honours even from the tear-up with Jack, but his body may not have totally forgiven him. A rebuilding job to his nose was one thing, but surgery to his damaged right shoulder is red-alert stuff.
That’s the machine that flicks out that nasty jab, and if it’s misfiring.
The flinty Caleb ‘Golden’ Traux may just start to believe.
He’s a top-15 fighter on the fringes of being a proper contender, with 18 KOs on his 28-win CV. That’s not shoddy!
It’s his second shot at a title after admittedly being outgunned and overwhelmed in the last round by WBA champ Daniel Jacobs.
But, since then, a first round starching by Dirrell is the only blot on an improving copybook. In August last year he used heavy body shots to crush Zachariah Kelly and a few months ago he went to town on KeAndrae Leatherwood, for a 10th round stoppage.
He won’t stop DeGale.
But his ability to throw heavy shots, weather storms, and slow his opponent down, could blunt a still recovering DeGale. If you think DeGale’s still licking his Badou Jack bruises, a Truax win’s worth a punt at 16/1.
But, even peaking through your fingers DeGale’s class shines through. He was hurt against Badow, but he’s been throwing that jab like a jackhammer in training.
It may be five fights since DeGale ended matters early, but his speed will keep him out of range of Truax’s grenades, and with the jab beating out the attack like a military drum, I see Chunky switching to the front foot and turning Truax’s lights to ‘out.’ Surprise, surprise, a DeGale win’s 1/100. But that’s life!
And while DeGale’s still back in his pre-fight dungeon, snarling abuse at videos of Truax, Lee Selby will be trading blurry punches with the unbeaten Eduardo Ramirez.
One of Selby’s clutch of nicknames is ‘Lightening’, and in Ramirez, he’s meeting a fighter who also fancies unleashing combos like a match tossed into a firework store.
There’s little doubt Selby’s the thoroughbred here, the tough lad from south Wales who’s won all but one of his 26 fights, and secured a title shot back in 2014 with a punch perfect show against then-unbeaten Aussie Joel Brunker.
— BoxNation (@boxnationtv) December 2, 2017
And if that was the tasty starter, the title-win against Russian Evgeny Gradovich, was a simply sumptuous main course of Flash Dance’ feet and magician-like hands.
Ramirez may be a steppingstone for Selby to glittering showdowns against the likes of Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton, but he’s an unbeaten steppingstone, with quick hands of his own and plenty in his tank.
His pedigree is spotless, being trained by Manuel Montiel Jr., brother of the five-time world champion Fernando Montiel, and last time out he bullied the classy Leduan Barthelemy into a playground battle he didn’t want, and left the ring with a draw,
Selby’s had a tough time with personal tragedy, fights pulled at the last moment and maybe less ring time then he’s like. Ramirez is a tricky southpaw with everything to prove and a desire to ‘shake up the world.’
They build them tough in Mexico, and unbeaten does mean something. If you’re feeling lucky, a Ramirez win comes in at 9/1.
And at this weight, it could happen.
But you know what, they’re tough as pit ponies in Wales too. And when you add that to Selby’s tool box of crisp, mean-spirited jabs, pickaxe-like hooks, ability to switch attacks, and the killer instincts of an attack dog… Well, Selby’s just got too much. He’s 1/40 to win. And if he doesn’t do it before the final bell I’ll buy a hat and then eat it.