No fighter was ever able to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr in the ring but James DeGale can do the next best thing when he faces Badou Jack in a super middleweight title unification fight on Saturday night in Brooklyn.
DeGale, the 30-year-old from London who holds the IBF championship at 168lbs, is expected to beat Jack, the WBC belt-holder, in one of the best fights that can be made in the division today.
A victory in the main event of a stacked card at the Barclays Center would not only help DeGale consolidate power at super‑middleweight and build anticipation for a blockbuster outdoor homecoming fight back home in the spring but it could dethrone the lone world champion in Mayweather’s nascent promotional stable.
Mayweather, who retired more than 16 months ago, was back in the headlines this week when he resurrected talk of a three fight showdown with the UFC superstar Conor McGregor, one that would generate stupefying amounts of revenue but ultimately carry no greater significance than Breezy v Soulja Boy.
However, as he spoke on Thursday behind designer sunglasses during the press conference at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood, Mayweather’s promotional hat appeared snugly fit. “Am I coming back? Absolutely not,” he said. “I want to live through these fighters.”
DeGale could deliver a setback to those plans on Saturday should he prevail, leaving the Mayweather Promotions stable of a little more than a dozen fighters without a world champion for the first time since Ishe Smith captured a light middleweight strap to break the company’s maiden in February 2013.
Eddie Hearn, who promotes DeGale, is confident his fighter can pull it off. “Badou Jack is a great fighter, an underrated fighter, but this guy here is a whole other level,” Hearn said. “Styles make fights but there isn’t really a style to beat James DeGale. He adapts to anything.”
Should the 30-year-old southpaw known as Chunky get through next Saturday’s challenge and emerge as the No1 name in the super middleweight division, there were will be no shortage of options. That could include a showdown with Andre Ward, the longtime 168lb champion who in November won the unified light-heavyweight title from Sergey Kovalev by a razor-thin decision.