James DeGale vs. Badou Jack Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, January 14, 2016
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
Weight Class: Super Middleweight (168 Pounds)
Titles: WBC and IBF Super Middleweight Title Unification: 12 Rounds
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
James DeGale, 23-1 (14 KOs), London, England
Badou Jack, 20-1-2 (12 KOs), Stockholm/Las Vegas
Betting Odds: James DeGale (-300), Badou Jack (+250)
James DeGale takes on Badou Jack on January 14 in Brooklyn in a super middleweight title unification bout. This should be a good one, with two of the top 168-pounders in the world doing battle with the stakes being high. The winner of this fight would be able to claim a level of supremacy in the super middleweight division. It's an interesting pairing where each man brings different things to the table. Will the more-cerebral approach of DeGale trump the straight-ahead physicality of Jack? Or will the hard-working Jack be able to surpass the more-measured approach of his favored opponent. It will be very interesting to find out.
DeGale, 30, last fought in April with a 12-round unanimous decision over Rogelio Medina. It was the second title defense of his IBF belt that he won with a decision over Andre Dirrell. Jack, 33, also last fought in April in a draw with Lucian Bute. It was also his second defense in a title he won from Andre's brother Anthony. Who can come out ahead in this battle?
DeGale has pound-for-pound talent. There is no questioning the ability and innate talent possessed by the former Olympic gold medal winner. The issue lies with his application of those skills, hence the close fights he's been in where his talent would suggest more-conclusive outcomes. In his only loss, we saw some of this at-play, with him giving away early rounds to George Groves out of empathy if nothing else, before showing he was the superior fighter late in the fight. But in a sport where rounds are scored individually, DeGale seems to often lose the plot. He works his way in deliberately and fights in a very measured manner. He thinks in the ring, certainly an asset, unless it leads to a low workrate and allows lesser fighters to out-hustle him. There's a reason a guy with his talent is still on the outside of the upper-elite looking in after winning Olympic gold way back in 2008.
He doesn't get the separation he should be getting against the guys he fights perhaps, but DeGale is a uniquely-talented fighter. He's fast, athletic, and strong, but not to a degree that is off-the-charts. There's a level of know-how and generalship that he brings to the table. He is unruffled and a lot of what he does doesn't leap off the screen in a fan-friendly way. It's very hard to get a read on DeGale, as he switches stances, with a full arsenal of punches from both sides. Opponents struggle in seeing what's coming. And it's all wrapped up in a package of extreme know-how and comfort. DeGale just knows what he's doing in the ring.
DeGale, with his gold medal pedigree, has a certain level of instinctive acuity that is not seen from all but the very best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. His varied work suggests a top fighter. When moving forward, not many fighters can exchange with him. And when going backwards, he launches nifty little counters from the back-foot. He's the complete package. He gets better over the course of a fight and is exceedingly crafty and cerebral. But if there's one way to beat a supremely-talented fighter of DeGale's ilk, it's to out-work them. And DeGale often lets opponents do that with a very low volume of output.
Jack has done well to get to this point. A decorated amateur in Sweden, Jack eventually settled in Vegas and was signed by the Mayweather camp. He improved with better training, ascending up the ranks. There was the first-round KO loss to Derek Edwards in 2014. While Jack's chin looked like garbage in that fight, first-round knockouts can be deceiving results, despite being the most-emphatic of any outcome on paper. Fighters get caught cold and the beginning of the fight is a dangerous time for a fighter. It doesn't speak well of his chin, but Jack has since gone 36 rounds with Anthony Dirrell, George Groves, and Lucian Bute without too many ill effects, so maybe his chin isn't as bad as it looked against Edwards. He's no Pernell Whitaker, so he has needed to rely on his chin somewhat in those fights, being that he's not terribly hard to hit. Jack was 2-0-1 against that group of fighters, with a draw, a majority decision, and a split decision. He hasn't found much separation at this level, but he is still holding onto a belt and none of those guys cold beat him, either.
Jack has talent, but there is something unexceptional about him. His nickname "Jack the Ripper" says all you need to know. He attacks moving forward and tries to land hard shots. He's a persistent fighter who isn't easily dissuaded. Jack works hard in the ring and looks to unleash his physicality on opponents. He lacks the nuance and cerebral approach of DeGale, but so far, it's worked for him.
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The problem with Jack for the purposes of betting on this fight is that he's fairly robotic and predictable. He has also benefitted from his opponents not being at their best, with a title-winning triumph over an uninspired Dirrell, with only a draw over a post-peak Bute, a man Jack would not have beaten in Bute's prime. He's not a technician, but more of a worker-bee, albeit a good one. He will be looking to counter the higher levels of sophistication and thoughtfulness that DeGale brings to the table with hard work and a physical style of fighting. But in terms of roads to victory, his options are far less than DeGale.
This is one of those fights where it's easy to make a sound case for the favorite. DeGale just has a lot more going for him as a fighter. If you could choose to be one of these fighters, you would choose to be the more-gifted DeGale. But then it's not outside the realm of possibility that you will tune into this fight and see Jack winning rounds with a hard-working style, while DeGale picks his spots too carefully. DeGale excels in everything except his vision of a fight and where he stands in terms of scoring. There are times when all he needs to do is move his hands a little more to make the rounds far more conclusive in his favor.
While on one hand, it's problematic laying -300 on a fighter who has an alarming knack for making fights closer than they should be, this style match-up might be all-wrong for Badou Jack. I think DeGale hits hard enough to hurt Jack, with the ability to outbox him at will, as long as he doesn't let his work-rate sink to too low of a point. DeGale is the complete package and that's bad news on a lot of different fronts for Jack. I'm taking DeGale.
Loot's Pick to Win the Fight: I'm betting on James DeGale at -300. Did you know... that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY and bet the DeGale vs. Jack fight by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!