Badou Jack (+246) vs James DeGale (-250), Draw (+2500)
The much-anticipated super-middleweight unification fight between WBC titleholder Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KO) and IBF champion James Degale (23-1, 14 KO) is locked in for January 14 at the Barclays Center in New York. And, just for good measure, the vacant The Ring title is also thrown into the mix.
The showdown will be a career-defining moment for Jack and DeGale, who both defended their titles last April at the D.C Armory. DeGale took Mexican fighter Rogelio Medina the full 12 rounds and won by unanimous decision, while Jack outboxed Lucian Bute but ended up with a controversial draw that many thought he should have won.
Badou signed to Mayweather Promotions after he was spotted by Floyd Mayweather during a sparring session. Since then he has picked up the WBC title and successfully defended the belt twice, taking both fights to decision.
DeGale is an Olympic gold medalist, winning the middleweight division at the 2008 games in Beijing. Shortly after, he decided to turn pro and has only lost one of his 24 fights since.
The fighters are similar in many ways. They’re around the same age (DeGale is 30 years old while Jack is 33); they’re both technically sound; they both sport one loss on their professional resume; and they’re both used to going the distance.
However, DeGale has faced tougher opponents than his Swedish counterpart and has won more decisive and convincing victories. He’s a deserving favorite and should be full value.
Pick: James DeGale (-250)
Jose Pedraza (-170) vs Gervonta Davis (+175), Draw (+2500)
Before DeGale and Badou square off, Jose Pedraza (22-0, 12 KO) will defend his IBF super featherweight title against the young Gervonta Davis (16-0, 15 KO).
Like Badou Jack, Gervonta Davis fights under Floyd Mayweather’s Mayweather Promotions. The 22-year-old is currently undefeated in 16 fights, ending all but one in a knockout. With the support of Mayweather and manager Al Haymon, Davis has a bright future ahead of him. But his resume is padded with unknown fighters and his bout against Pedraza will be the first real test of his professional career.
Jose Pedraza defeated Russian Andrey Klimov in the middle of last year, claiming the IBF super featherweight title in the process. He has successfully defended the belt twice since then. The 27-year-old is now undefeated in 22 professional fights, ending 12 by knockout.
Pedraza is the more experienced fighter of the two, with a history of beating tougher opponents. If the fight goes into the later rounds, he’ll have the upperhand. But the young Davis has proven himself to be a reliable knockout artist, and at +175, he’s worth a wager.
Pick: Gervonta Davis (+175)
Photo credit: “Dave Petryck vs Antonio Dos Santos” by MartialArtsNomad, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.