Former super middleweight champion eyes big bout with fellow Brit Chris Eubank Jr.
With one ripping, third-round right uppercut James DeGale floored Fidel Monterrosa Munoz for his first knockout in nearly four years. The two-time 168-pound champion is seeking to reinvigorate his career.
DeGale (25-2-1, 15 KOs) had gone 4-1-1 in six previous fights (all title bouts), before obliterating Munoz (39-19-1, 31 KOs) on the undercard of a PBC on FS1 fight night at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California on September 30.
The next man on DeGale’s radar is Chris Eubank Jr., a left-handed Englishman whose last fight was a third-round stoppage of J.J. McDonough on September 28.
The knockout of Munoz was the first for DeGale since he scored a third-round TKO victory over Marco Antonio Periban in 2014.
“It was pleasing to feel the buzz in the crowd and to have another good win. But it was a routine eight-rounder. Nothing spectacular. I’m not going to get too excited about the performance (against Munoz),” said DeGale, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist from Britain.
“But along with the injuries, the last couple of years have been a bit frustrating. I had a problem called ‘Gilmore’s groin’ and was still recovering against Periban. I couldn't punch hard against (Dyah) Davis, move properly or get my shots off because of the sharp pain…But it’s nice to be boxing injury free and in good health.”
Before the Munoz fight, DeGale had fought in two title matches against Caleb Truax, losing the first one by majority decision and winning the second time by unanimous decision. DeGale then vacated the IBF’s crown to pursue “massive fights” rather than face mandatory challenger Jose Uzecategui.
“To be brutally honest, (Uzecategui) was a high risk fight for lower reward,” said DeGale of Uzecategui, who stopped Andre Dirrell in the eighth round in March for the crown he vacated.
“The purse (for Uzecategui) would have been significantly lower than I had been earning. I defended the title three times and there are better options available with bigger reward. Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to box for another world title shot in the near future.”
“ Domestically, it’s a massive fight. I believe that our styles will gel, and with a lot on the line, it will make a great fight. ” Former Champ James DeGale on potential fight with Chris Eubank Jr.
It was against Dirrell that DeGale first claimed a vacant title in Boston during his American debut in May 2015, a two-knockdown unanimous decision making him the first British boxer to win both an Olympic gold medal and a professional championship.
In succession, DeGale won consecutive unanimous decision over left-handed ex-champion Lucian Bute (November 2015) and Rogelio Medina (April 2016) before battling to a majority draw in his third defense and title unification bout with Badou Jack (January 2017).
Before Jack, DeGale had won 13 straight, six by stoppage, following a majority decision loss in May 2011 to countryman George Groves, whom Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) dethroned by seventh-round TKO in a September 28 clash of Englishmen.
“Smith got his opportunity at a world title shot, and he looked good taking it, doing so with both hands. But I’m only 32, so I’ve still got a couple of years in me yet,” said DeGale. “I’m feeling brilliant, right now, but as an athlete, there is always something you can improve on and make yourself better. I’m simply taking it one fight at a time.”
Along with Uzecategui and Smith, another titleholder is southpaw Gilberto Ramirez (WBO), with former champion Anthony Dirrell likely to battle Avni Yildirm for the WBC’s vacant crown.
“I would love to win another world title, and I’m not fussy about who I have to fight to get it,” said DeGale. “I’ll leave that decision to my management to decide, but they’re all young, ambitious fighters who would all be game.”
But for now, DeGale has his sights on Eubanks, the son of a former 168-pound champion.
“Domestically, it’s a massive fight. I believe that our styles will gel, and with a lot on the line, it will make a great fight,” said DeGale of Eubanks, loser of split and unanimous decisions at 160 and 168 pounds to unbeaten southpaw Billy Joe Saunders (November 2014) and Groves (February), the latter in a title bout.
“Eubank relies on his engine and his work rate to get him through, but he struggles every time he steps up in competition. He’s been calling me out since he was an amateur, so I will finally be getting a chance to use my skills and experience to outclass him and to shut him up.”
For a closer look at James DeGale, check out his fighter page.
- James DeGale