Stylish super middleweight James DeGale outclassed Brandon Gonzales in four rounds in a bout scheduled for 12, while undercardding the Carl Froch – George Groves main event rematch at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, May 31. The stoppage will be lambasted for it’s alleged earliness, yet DeGale was on a fast-track to electric.
Result: DeGale via 4th Rd TKO.
Londoner DeGale is an awkward operator, some may find him hard to watch, but he does is technically unique. Few Brits box quite like he does and, clearly buzzed by the atmosphere, DeGale rose to the occasion to force a referee’s stoppage in the fourth round, after knocking Gonzales down in the same round. His trainer, Virgil Hunter, was apoplectic and contested the verdict to all who would listen.
DeGale was on fire from the opening bell, cleaning Gonzales’ clock with a left hook so spiteful it staggered the 30-year-old early. The visiting prizefighter was barely given enough time, or space, to fight his way into a rhythm, as DeGale commanded the ring from the off.
In rounds three and four, DeGale was able to assert his physical strengths from long range and picked him off with unorthodox leads and straight lefts to the lips. Whenever Gonzales attempted to steal the initiative, the home favourite’s speed of hand was telling.
Sharp-shooter DeGale showed off his versatility and adaptability in the fourth stanza as Gonzales managed to maintain an inside position but, while he was able to sneak in short-range punches on occasion, DeGale’s strength and glove cushioning position saw him deflect any threat and then force his own attack – which was destructive.
A precise three-punch combination felled Gonzales and, while he comfortably beat the count, he was deemed to shook to continue after a subsequent barrage from the Englishman. He won in four.
“Exactly what I wanted to do, was put on performance,” DeGale said, choked up post-fight. “I’ll watch it back Ed, I hit him with clean shots and he was hurt. He was hurt. Am I ready for a title shot? 100 percent! Final eliminator – mandated. The left hand, bolo to the chin, right hooks – everything. That was a good fighter. I’m just happy. I’m ready; Froch – Groves, I’m ready. I don’t care who wins. Hopefully Groves get’s knocked out but if he don’t, I’ll do him next.”
Jim McDonnell concluded: “Loyalty and trust – two words in boxing and James has absolutely 100 percent stuck to the game-plan. What you see tonight is the beginning of a superstar-in-the-making.”
James DeGale trumped Dyah Davis by way of unanimous decision at Glow in Bluewater, Kent on Saturday, November 16. For the first half of the contest, there was much impressive work coming from the WBC silver titlist at super middleweight, but did he do enough to convince the crowd in attendance and those at home that he can hang with the world elite?…
Alan Dawson – London
In order to ready himself for his fourth professional prizefight, London’s fast-emerging prospect Frank Buglioni sparred with former two-time super middleweight world champion Carl Froch, current European titlist at 168lbs James DeGale and British king George Groves. Buglioni boxes at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, London on Saturday, April 28 and is hoping to emulate his pugilistic inspiration; Joe Calzaghe who, like Frank, is a Briton of Italian stock.
“It’s been a great experience to spar with James and George who are both top quality fighters and they each bring different strengths and qualities to the ring,” said Buglioni of DeGale, a combination puncher with a Philly shell guard and Groves, a multi-dimensional fighter who can box or bang.
On Froch, Buglioni (3-0-0, 2ko) was impressed with the Nottingham native’s training ethic: “I [have also] trained with Carl who was great to be around and learn from… especially his attitude towards training which was an eye-opener.”
Currently, 23-year-old Buglioni, who has campaigned at both 175lbs and most recently 168, is without an opponent but is motivated to perform at his highest level due to the history that the arena he will be fighting in contains. A premier concert hall, the Royal Albert Hall hosted amateur boxing last year as UK armed forces were pitted against their American counterparts. This weekend, for the first time in over a decade, professional boxing returns.
“I’ll find out who the opponent in the next day or so and then I can’t wait for Saturday, I’ve got plenty of fans coming down to support me and it’s going to be a great fight night at the Royal Albert Hall. I’m very excited to be boxing on the show where the biggest names in British boxing have all fought,” he added.
“When I was a kid, Joe Calzaghe was a big hero of mine so to fight at the venue where he won the British title is a real honour and it was watching Joe’s amazing fight with Jeff Lacy that made me decide to turn professional,” the TRAD TKO product, trained by Jimmy and Mark Tibbs, recalled. “It’s only my fourth fight on Saturday so I’m a long way off fighting for the British title, but it’s an ambition of mine to win the prestigious belt that the best in Britain have held.”
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Making his first fistic appearance in the current calendar year, a sharp James DeGale boxed like he had been out of the ring for only six weeks, rather than six months as the Londoner coasted to a straight-forward fourth round knockout victory having floored EBU super middleweight title challenger Cristian Sanavia four times. DeGale, 11 years Sanavia’s junior at 26, triumphed at the Arena Nord, Frederikshavn in Denmark on Saturday, April 21.
Official verdict: DeGale by way of fourth round KO.
Utilising his height and reach advantages, DeGale began the EBU title fight at super middleweight by triple-jabbing the shorter, stockier Sanavia from range. He relinquished control of the centre of the ring to the Italian challenger as he swanned around the ropes. When Sanavia pressured, DeGale blocked the punches with his wrists, forearms and gloves as he employed a rigid Philly-shell guard. Switch-hitting comfortably, DeGale showed stellar technical skills in the opening round and easily gained the ten, reducing Cristian to nine.
In the second round, Sanavia achieved success with a left hand that forced DeGale into a clinch. Any crude pressure Sanavia exerted was effectively negated by DeGale’s exquisite movement and the way he threw his shots… uppercuts were launched and landed with precision and, for the most part, high gloves protecting his temples provided a cushion from incoming hook punches. A sharp shooter, DeGale boasted good boxing ability and shot selection with a plethora of his subsequent shots in the third all coming after the jab and double jab – both orthodox and southpaw.
A 37-year-old veteran with 51 professional fights and 341 rounds behind him, Sanavia was breathing heavily between the third and fourth rounds; a sign he may have been uncomfortable with the tempo of the contest. Midway through the round, Sanavia suffered three successive flash knockdowns as DeGale changed into a higher gear. With 14 seconds left on the clock, DeGale finished the job early with a left hook to the side of Sanavia’s body as the Italian dropped to the canvas a fourth and final time.
Whilst DeGale does not possess pure one punch knockout power, what he does have is an undeniable ability to string punches together with ease and put seats on the canvas via accumulative punch power – which is exactly what happened to Sanavia. With the victory, DeGale saw his record jump up to 12-1-0, 9ko and make a successful first defence of the EBU super middleweight championship title he won when he majority decisioned Piotr Wilczewski in a tough 12 rounder.
Sanavia dropped down to 45-6-1, 13ko.
On The Beak – Admin
Burgeoning super middleweight James DeGale, 26, makes the first defence of his coveted EBU championship this evening – Saturday, April 21 – as he takes on experienced challenger Cristian Sanavia, a 37-year-old southpaw who briefly held the WBC world title eight years ago. DeGale weighed in on the dot (168lbs) while Sanavia came in half a pound lighter. The two swap shots at the Arena Nord, Frederikshavn in Denmark as part of the Nordic Fight Night series.
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Accolade magnet Patrick Nielsen, a 21-year-old Danish southpaw, is one of the most noted prospects in northern Europe due to his tricky stance, his almighty punch and general speed. Denmark’s 2011 boxer of the year requires little motivation to knock opponent’s heads off (his last fight ended in 11 seconds) but brazen Argentine Gaston Vega is not intimated by Nielsen’s reputation and attended a press conference with a shirt that offended the home fighter…
Vega (17-4-0, 6ko) and Nielsen (13-0-0, 7ko) compete for the WBA Intercontinental middleweight belt on Saturday, April 21 at the Arena Nord, Frederikshavn in Denmark as part of the innovative Nordic Fight Night programming that also features James DeGale’s EBU super middleweight championship defence against Cristian Sanavia, together with a featherweight showdown between Andreas Evensen and Willie Casey.
Ahead of the contest, Vega attended a media event wearing the colours of his national football team – Argentina – with 11 (the round number he intends to knock Patrick out in) combined with his moniker; The Nielsen Slayer.
Even though he is entering enemy territory, Vega intends to leave the lion’s den with the belt wrapped tight around his waist. He said: “I am proud to be Argentinian and I will take home the Intercontinental title on Saturday night. This is a big title. To get it, I will defeat Nielsen in the 11th round. I am wearing this shirt to state my intentions. I will knock him out.”
Nielsen responded by saying the bespoke design was in bad taste: “I don’t think he should be wearing something like that shirt. I find it very inappropriate and disgusting. I can’t wait to get in the ring with him and make him pay. I am in great shape and I will give him a hell of a beating.”
Promoter Nisse Sauerland commented that they are fast-tracking Nielsen because of his exceptional skills: “We are moving Patrick Nielsen fast but we believe in him. Winning the WBA Intercontinental title at the age of just 21 would be huge. But Vega is a tough opponent. It will be a great fight and I am confident that Patrick will win.”
In the Nordic Fight Night’s co-featured main event, James DeGale (11-1, 8ko) takes on experienced Sanavia (45-5-0, 13ko), while Andreas Evensen (15-2-0, 6ko) faces Willie “Big Bang” Casey (13-1-0, 9ko) for the WBA International featherweight belt.
Tommy Barber – London
Frank Warren Promotions Limited have responded swiftly to the mounting speculation linking one of the company’s most marketable prizefighters, James DeGale, with a move away from the talent-filled stable. DeGale had, via his solicitors, stated that it was time for both he and Frank Warren to “move on“, however, the latter has informed the press they should be careful about how they report DeGale’s statement as he is still under contract with the promoter.
“We have seen the press reports today in which James DeGale states that he is to split from his manager Frank Warren,” said an official release. “This is not true; James DeGale is in fact under contract until 14 April 2013.
“Accordingly, you should be careful as to how you report Mr DeGale’s statement, if in fact you do,” the statement concluded.
DeGale (11-1-0, 8ko), a former incumbent of the British super middleweight championship and the current European titlist at 168lbs, has not boxed since October when he wrapped the EBU belt around his waist due to his triumph over experienced Polish fighter; Piotr Wilczewski at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
In the weeks preceding DeGale’s push for continental honours, Warren and British and Commonwealth super middleweight king George Groves – DeGale’s bitter rival – signed terms in a deal that DeGale, according to British broadsheet The Independent, later dubbed a “betrayal”.
The duo amassed great press, both at home and abroad, in 2011 as they engaged in a public spat before boxing for the first time as professionals in London’s 02 Arena in May, in a main event fight that was broadcast by EPIX and shown on the jumbotron in Times Square, New York City.
Groves (14-0-0, 11ko) emerged victorious by way of slim points decision – much like he did when the two fought in the amateur ranks, yet Warren’s decision to exchange contracts with Saint George, when explained to DeGale by Frank himself, began to make sense to James as the ability to book a rematch had suddenly become far less complicated.
Whilst Groves has gone on to resoundingly beat up and knock out the normally durable Paul Smith and seal a rematch with Kenny Anderson – scheduled for March 16 at Wembley Arena in London – DeGale, who had been down to fight Jose Guerrero this year, remains without an opponent…
Tommy Barber – London
Dual titlist James DeGale, who has the EBU super middleweight championship and the WBO intercontinental belt in his possession, defends the latter honour on Friday, December 9 at the Liverpool Echo Arena and his opponent, Jose Maria Guerrero, has a simple message: “If [DeGale] believes he will knock me out quickly he is an ignoramus and in for a big surprise“.
DeGale’s 2011 has been up and down. He looked scintillating against Alpay Kobal with his mature use of angles and varied use of combinations, too tentative versus George Groves where he took the initiative too late and dropped a decision defeat but then bounced back by out-pointing Piotr Wilczewski where he edged the Pole in a close encounter but appeared vulnerable in defence.
Defeating Wilczewski saw DeGale (11-1-0, 8ko) pick up the EBU title at 168lbs as well as the lightly-regarded intercontinental strap of the WBO. In his first defence of the WBO belt, he has been aligned in what observers have deemed a “keep busy” or “tune-up” fight with Guerrero (29-2-1, 11ko).
DeGale will be hoping to close the year on a high, yet Guerrero has sent a message to the stylish Londoner: “I will give him some advice: ‘destroy me quickly, if not, you will have a big problem’.
“If he believes that he will knock out me quickly, he shows that he’s an ignoramus and if he thinks that this is the easiest fight of his career then he will have a big surprise.” A domestic champion in Spain, Guerrero added: “This is the biggest opportunity of my career and I will make all the necessary arrangements for me to win and come back to Spain with the title. I’m not accepting this opportunity for money. I’m accepting it because I will win and fight for the world title myself next year.”
He continued: “In my life I only know boxing so if I want a good future I can’t lose this fight. My options are win or win, I can’t take another result. I think that this hunger is my strength. I need to win and I will win.
“I want to show the world who Jose Maria Guerrero is,” the 34-year-old concluded.
The Liverpool card was due to showcase two of Britain’s upcoming super middleweights in DeGale and rival Groves, however, Saint George suffered an injury during his training camp which has prevented his participation. A strong Scouse presence will remain, though, as Liam and Stephen Smith, together with Joe Selkirk, will all box. Promising middleweight prospect Billy Joe Saunders is also slated to fight.
Tickets from £40 are available from the Liverpool Echo Arena Box Office: 0844 8000 400 or here.
On The Beak – Admin
British and Commonwealth super middleweight champion George Groves has had to withdraw from the Friday, December 9 show at the Liverpool Echo Arena because of a hand injury. The injury occurred during a training session this week at Groves’ gym in Vauxhall, South London, and after seeking expert medical guidance, he was advised not to fight.
Intercontinental title against Jose Maria Guerrero will now top the bill on the show – and a further title fight could be added. Groves (14-0-0, 11ko) was due to joint-headline alongside rival James DeGale – whose defence of the WBO Intercontinental title against Jose Maria Guerrero will now top the bill on the show – and a further title fight could be added.
Last month, Groves produced a great performance to stop former British champion Paul Smith in the second round at Wembley Arena and was looking to end a memorable year that included a win over rival DeGale (11-1-0, 8ko).
Groves said: “I’m really gutted as I was coming along nicely in training and on course for the fight in a couple of weeks’ time. The injury is a set back and I really wanted to end the year with four good wins. I’m sorry that my fans won’t be able to see me in action, but I’ll back early next year and ready to kick of 2012 with bang as I continue towards further titles.”
Adam Booth, Groves’ manager and trainer, added: “Obviously we are all disappointed as George was looking forward to getting back into the ring again so quickly after his great win over Paul Smith. At this stage of George’s career it would be crazy to compromise him and carry an injury of that nature into the fight. He’s been advised to rest it for now and we’ll seek further medical guidance next week.”
Promoter Frank Warren said: “It’s disappointing for everyone concerned, but George can’t fight if his hand is injured and if he did go ahead and put in a sub-par performance we don’t want to make excuses. He’ll have a good rest and treatment and I’ll look to get him back out early next year which will be a big one for him.
“It’s still a cracking show with James DeGale now headlining and our best talent from Liverpool all in action including Stephen and Liam Smith, Joe Selkirk and Paul Butler. Unbeaten prospects Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Johnson are also on the card along with the pro-debut of Damon Jones.”
Tommy Barber – London
The Frank Warren Sports Network card that had initially been set to take place in London has been moved to the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Friday, December 9. Three Londoners are set to share main event status as burgeoning middleweight Billy Joe Saunders, together with super middleweight rivals George Groves and James DeGale are all due to box. The latter of whom, has already received an opponent – Jose Maria Guerrero, of Spain.
There had been speculation that DeGale – a 2008 gold medal Olympian in Beijing – would oblige the mandatory challenger for his EBU title; Cristian Sanavia, however, this match-up has now been mooted for a February date. Consequently, DeGale’s dust-up with Guerrero will not have the blue European belt on the line.
DeGale (11-1-0, 8ko) won the EBU championship in his most recent outing, against durable Polish pugilist Piotr Wilczewski, in October. The scoring was tight and a reflection of the competitive spirit that the bout contained, yet it was the Londoner who prevailed by way of majority decision.
Guerrero (29-2-1, 11ko) does not possess the same credentials that strong Continental opponent Wilczewski provided. He has twice been defeated, once by Mario Veit in 2003 and again in 2005, when he was stopped inside three rounds by Mamuka Khutuashvili.
A four year break from the sport occurred between 2005 and ’09 but, since returning to boxing, he has amassed a winning streak of four fights, however, the 34-year-old Spaniard has rarely boxed anyone with a winning record and, as such, will likely provide DeGale with a ‘tune-up’ for Sanavia, rather than the two sterling tests he undertook against Groves in May and Wilczewski, four months later.
British and Commonwealth super middleweight titlist Groves, an undefeated prizefighter in 14 contests (11 by way of knockout), also fights on the card but it is, as of yet, unclear over whom will provide his opposition and whether it will have the Englishman’s two domestic straps on the line. Groves is enjoying a breakout year having out-pointed DeGale and supplementing that high-profile victory with a stunning two-round knockout over the usually durable Liverpudlian; Paul Smith.
Billy Joe Saunders, who recently lifted the Southern Arena middleweight belt due to his trumping of Gary Boulden, will also compete on December 9, as will another undefeated rising middleweight prospect Joe Selkirk, 26-year-old featherweight Stephen Smith and welterweight novice Liam Smith.
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