The 168-pound world championship showdown between Badou Jack and James DeGale already had a date and broadcasting network. Now it has a location—plus a very intriguing co-main event.
In one of boxing's most anticipated title-unification bouts, Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) and James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) will square off January 14 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Tickets for the fight, which will air live on Showtime, are scheduled to go on sale Friday.
In addition to the venue being announced today, the co-main event also was revealed: Undefeated 130-pound world champion Jose Pedraza (22-0, 12 KOs) of Puerto Rico will make his third title defense against 22-year-old knockout artist Gervonta Davis (16-0, 15 KOs) of Baltimore.
Jack and DeGale have traveled very similar paths to their long-awaited bout.
A 33-year-old Las Vegas resident by way of Stockholm, Jack earned his world title in April 2015 when he scored a unanimous decision over titleholder Anthony Dirrell in Chicago. He’s since defended his crown twice, earning a split decision over George Groves in September 2015 in Las Vegas, then fighting Lucian Bute to a questionable majority draw on April 30 in Washington, D.C.
Despite seemingly dominating Bute—a former 168-pound champ—Jack failed to get the nod from the judges, but he held onto his title with the draw.
Exactly one month after Jack defeated Dirrell, DeGale claimed a vacant world title by taking down older brother Anthony Dirrell by unanimous decision in Boston.
Like Jack, DeGale also has made two successful defenses, earning unanimous decisions over Bute last November in Quebec City and against Rogelio Medina on the same April 30 card in which Jack faced Bute.
“I'm expecting a very tough fight from James DeGale,” Jack said. “But I'm very confident that I’m going to win the fight and become the unified champion.
“This is an incredible stage to be at Barclays Center and on Showtime, and I'm going to take full advantage of it. I’m ready to make my mark as the best in the division.”
A lifelong London resident, the 30-year-old DeGale said he's been itching to fight Jack for a long time. The southpaw will be making his third appearance in the United States, with the others being against Andre Dirrell and Medina.
“I am so happy that this fight has finally been made,” DeGale said. “This is the best fighting the best. This is what boxing is all about.
“Badou Jack is a very good fighter, and he’s underrated. I am going to have to be 100 percent on my game to beat him, but I am confident I will deliver on January 14. I have already fulfilled my dream of becoming a world champion, and now it is time to unify.”
Pedraza, 27, will be back in action for the first time since April 16, when he scored a ninth-round knockdown of Englishman Stephen Smith on his way to winning a convincing unanimous decision in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
That followed two impressive wins last year, when Pedraza earned a lopsided, title-winning unanimous decision over Andrey Klimov (June 2015), followed by a split decision over Edner Cherry (October 2015).
In Davis, Pedraza will be battling a young but dangerous puncher who is riding a seven-fight knockout streak, including four opening-round wipeouts. Davis’ most recent stoppage came on June 3, when he needed all of 41 seconds to take out Mario Antonio Macias.
“Davis is a great young fighter with an impressive record, and I am very happy to fight a challenger of his caliber,” Pedraza said. “However, I do feel that Davis has been protected, so I plan to really show off in this fight and perform at my best.
“Defeating Davis will be a great start to 2017, a year I would love to unify my division.”
Said Davis: “I’m excited for the opportunity to fight a respected, undefeated world champion like Jose Pedraza. I’m also ready to show the boxing world what I’m capable of doing.
“Boxing is searching for its next star, and I believe that I’m the one. On January 14, I plan to show what over 200 amateur wins and 12 years of training with coach Calvin Ford looks like. … Jose Pedraza, get ready. I’m coming to kick your ass.”