By Geoff Poundes
On Saturday night Britain’s much maligned Olympic champion James DeGale, 13-1, 9 KO’s continues his fistic education when he confronts four-time world title challenger Fulgencio Zuniga, 25-6-1, 22 KO’s over 12 rounds. The WBC “Silver” 168 pound belt is up for grabs (a world title eliminator by any other name).
DeGale’s love-hate relationship with the British fight public continues, and since losing his unbeaten record to arch-rival George Groves last year “Chunky” has been reduced to fighting in off the grid venues until he can recover a measure of public acclaim. DeGale’s last fight, a hard-earned decision victory over Frenchman Hadillah Mohoumadi, played out at new venue Glow in Greenhithe, and he’ll be meeting Zuniga at the Bonus Arena in Hull, Yorkshire.
DeGale already holds the European super-middle title, and is already pencilled in to defend that belt in January. Earlier this year he extricated himself from a promotional agreement with Frank Warren, and now fights under the Hennessy Promotions banner, which brings with it free-to-air television exposure with Channel 5, who are also behind Tyson Fury’s march towards a heavyweight world title fight.
Colombian Zuniga represents a decent challenge for the talented Englishman. He’s well travelled and has contested world titles unsuccessfully four times (Daniel Santos, WBO light-middle; Dennis Inkin, WBO super-middle; Tavoris Cloud, IBF light-heavy; and Lucian Bute, IBF super-middle – the only time he was defeated inside distance when the Canadian stopped him in four). Zuniga also gave Kelly Pavlik a decent argument back in 2005 when Pavlik was at his best.
Zuniga is now 35 and is coming off a comprehensive decision loss to world-title aspirant Thomas Oosthuizen, as recently as a month ago, and he should retain enough ambition to put DeGale through his paces. He’s a tough customer, and despite DeGale’s unquestioned skills, the British fighter is yet to demonstrate world-class power so it looks like it could be a long night. It would take a brave man to pick DeGale to lose, however; he’s likely to box his way to a wide and unanimous points verdict.
On the undercard rising star Kid Galahad, 12-0, 5 KO’s appears to have a straightforward job on his hands when he entertains Spaniard Ruiz Morote, 15-2, 7 KO’s over eight rounds.
Morote’s record doesn’t stand up to inspection; he was stopped in five rounds in his only meaningful excursion, and Galahad has beaten quality opposition in former British champion Jason Booth, so expect him to make short work of Morote.
Also appearing is Chris Eubank Jnr, 8-0, 3 KO’s who is racing forward with his career having impressed last weekend when he outpointed good quality veteran Bradley Pryce. Eubank’s opponent is yet to be named.