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Saturday, 14 January 2017

Boxing Picks 2017- James Degale vs Badou Jack (January 14th)

I made a decision back in November that I would be adding some picks from the big boxing fights in the 2017 year.

It just happens to be that since that point some huge, intriguing fights had been set to continue a positive trend for the sport which has lost some legendary names in recent years. The reinvigoration of the Heavyweight Division might have been a little static in 2016, but that is unlikely to be the case in 2017 with a big fight already lined up at Wembley Stadium and the return of another Champion from injury.

The Heavyweight Division has always been the benchmark of where boxing stands, but the last few years have shown there are plenty of fighters to admire as you move down the weights. It looks like boxing has finally started figuring out the importance of matching the best with the best and we have some very good looking fights to coming up beginning at the Barclay's Center on Saturday.



Jose Pedraza vs Gervonta Davis
Two unbeaten fighters battle it out for the IBF Super-Featherweight World title as the chief support to the main event and this looks a coming of age party for Gervonta Davis. 'Tank' is a huge prospect in the Floyd Mayweather stable who has been able to bludgeon his way into a position to fight for his first World title.

15 KO's in 16 fights has to be respected and it is clear that Davis has the power in this fight with the unbeaten Champion Jose Pedraza.

The latter will be known to British fight fans having beaten Stephen Smith in his last fight, but there were some signs that Pedraza is the kind of Champion that a prospect like Davis will believe he can beat. That fight with Smith was very close until a ninth round knock down and Davis has to think he can even more success with the body shots that Smith landed on the night.

Coming from the southpaw stance makes Davis more of an awkward customer, but Pedraza is far from an easy night in the office and can be very tough to figure out himself. That makes this a close fight and there isn't much between them with the layers making Pedraza a small favourite.

That might have plenty to do with the fact that Davis is taking a significant step up from previous opponents, although clearly is confident he is ready for this level. The thinking is that Davis has to stop Pedraza to win this fight, while any decision is likely to favour the Puerto Rican fighter, but I am not sure I agree with that.

Pedraza has shown in his last two fights that he doesn't dominate on the scoreboards and Davis has said there is a lot of skills that have yet to be shown. I have to think Mayweather has put his young prospect in there knowing he is capable of boxing where necessary and not just being reliant on what looks like some monster power he possesses.

I think this will be a close fight, but one that will go to the points. While the theory is that Pedraza will win any decision and Davis needs the stoppage, I think the more eye catching shots may come from the latter and that can sway judges. He is the 'home' fighter too and Davis can weather out a few storms in the Championship Rounds as he goes deeper than he has before as a professional fighter.

A small interest on Davis winning a close decision looks a decent price here.



James Degale vs Badou Jack
This is the chance to open 2017 with a Unified Champion at Super-Middleweight and it has all the makings of a really good fight between James Degale and Badou Jack.

Both men have looked improved since winning World titles and there is another big fight looming for the winner with Callum Smith likely next in line for a shot at the titles. Smith has the making of a Superstar, so my heart would love to see Degale win and set up yet another huge domestic fight.

To me there is little doubt the superior skills are going to be with Degale in this fight who has shown speed and an ability to punch from a number of angles, while switching stance to keep opponents guessing where the next punch is coming from. That has seen Degale make some really fast and impressive starts to his fights, but 'The Road Warrior' has some negative attributes that Jack can take advantage of.

The main area is the conditioning of Degale, although he has employed a new Coach to help him improve on that front. It has been clear in a few of his fights that Degale does slow down in the second half of fights and that allows opponents to stay with him on the scorecards and the steadiness of the Jack methods might just mean he is never too far behind.

It has to be expected that the first half of the fight will mainly lean towards Degale and it is important for him to win at least five of the first six rounds in a fight that I am expecting to reach the scorecards. If Jack is able to sneak one or two more rounds there, I do think he is capable of being the stronger finisher with Degale sometimes taking time off in rounds to save some energy.

Now the British fighter says that is no longer an issue for him, but I have to see that to believe that. I do think Jack's ability to fight at his tempo from the first round through to the end of the twelfth may just give him a chance to win a narrow decision in this one in what could be a controversial ending.

Jack has some power behind him too as he showed when knocking down George Groves on the way to what was a controversial decision over Degale's old rival. I think he could give Degale some problems with that, although the flash is definitely with the Brit and that could potentially see the judges favour his style a little more than Jack's.

However I do think there is a real chance Jack can start winning a lot of the rounds in the second half of the fight which helps him turn this one and backing him to win in what could be a split decision is the call. I am not going to worry how the decision comes, but simply Jack gets it in New York. I'd love to see Degale do it and set up a huge fight with Callum Smith in England in June, but I will have a small interest in Jack for the decision win at a big price in what could be a close and competitive fight throughout.

MY PICKS: Gervonta Davis Win by Decision/Technical Decision @ 5.50 Coral (1 Unit)
Badou Jack Win by Decision/Technical Decision @ 6.00 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)

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