The Big Question: Jack vs DeGale - who wins?
Briton James DeGale faces Swede Badou Jack on Saturday night in Brooklyn in an eagerly awaited and intriguing super middleweight unification showdown. We canvassed opinion among the Boxing Monthly online team about which man will prevail ...
I'm going with DeGale - on one condition; namely that he doesn't take his foot off the gas in the middle rounds. DeGale is a very awkward southpaw who fires from unpredictable angles. His power is also deceiving. Jack is a good tactician, but if DeGale brings his A game to the table, he outwits Jack. If he gets too cocky, it's Jack's for the taking. A 55/45 fight to DeGale for me. - Paul Zanon
Jack is very good, but DeGale is the best 12'er in the world (although I do wish he was a little more active than he has been of late). However, he mustn't slow-up, he mustn't lose concentration and he must be at his very best for the whole contest. DeGale should take it on a unanimous but close points decision in the vein of 116-112 or 115-113. - Colin Harris
Like others, I think DeGale will win, but he'll have to box to his full potential and not allow the fight to slip away. Jack is one of the most underrated boxers at world level IMO. I just think DeGale when on song is a special talent. - James Oddy
This is a very close match-up. Both of these fighters are on good form (despite Jack's draw with Bute) and this fight couldn't be made at a better time. You have to look at DeGale as a slight favourite because of his style and his run of results and performances since losing to George Groves back in 2011. Jack has been on a good run himself but his draw last time out vs Lucian Bute means you could question his ability to handle southpaws.
Despite this I'm leaning towards Jack, but not by much. My reason for this is the breaks that DeGale likes to take during rounds. I think the times when DeGale sits on the ropes will be bread and butter for Jack whose inside work is hugely underrated. Plus with this being a Mayweather show, I think the judges may just favour Jack's work over DeGale's southpaw pot-shotting. The pick is Jack by very narrow decision, something around 114-113. - Callum Rudge
I'm taking DeGale on points here, with it being a competitive fight throughout. I think DeGale's diverse style will give him more tools and more approaches to utilise during the fight, compared to the more orthodox, steady Jack. DeGale has recently gotten with a strength and conditioning coach and there looks to be a notable difference in his physique, which may or may not matter at all but I think it's something to be noted. Jack faded late against Bute and has talked about moving up to light heavy. DeGale, despite taking middle rounds off during fights, usually can secure the fight in the championship rounds and that's what I expect him to do here as it goes down to the wire. - Rian Scalia
I think Saturday night is when James DeGale truly shows us just how good he really is, and sets up some mega fights here in the UK in the process. We all hear about how good ‘Chunky’ is, and how special he can be, and in fairness we have seen glimpses - but Saturday night is when he needs to put it all together and show the world.
All too often we see him take breaks through rounds, take rounds off etc, and against Jack it’s likely that he’ll be punished for such, as he can accrue rounds without looking spectacular in doing so (just ask George Groves). However based on what we’ve seen so far, I’ve got faith in the Brit to pull it all together on the night and mark himself as the best 168lb-er in the world. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan and then we can see some big British nights with unification fights against hopefully George Groves, and a very interesting bout against Scouse prospect Callum Smith. DeGale via a wide decision. - Luke Byron
Remember the tale of the tortoise and the hare? The fast but self assured hare races into an early lead before deciding to take a break, allowing the doughty tortoise to keep plodding along. Once the hare realises he has let his lead slip, despite his best attempts, he runs out of time and the unheralded tortoise claims an unlikely victory.
DeGale is quicker and more talented but has switched off during the middle rounds in a number of recent fights whereas Jack just keeps going. And going. And going.
There is another version of the tale though where the forest catches fire and the triumphant - and apparently quicker - tortoise is chosen to go and find help. He just isn't capable and the forest burns down. The hare, having had his wake-up call, would have delivered when it mattered most.
DeGale has had his wake-up call and won't switch off for a second. I think he'll beat Jack and look superb in the process. - John Evans
I like DeGale to defeat Jack via concise unanimous decision in an entertaining fight. Both men will have their moments, but the Londoner will have more. After 'Chunky' wins he will be the recognised lineal, unified super middleweight champion; hopefully he sets the right example and enrolls in VADA's (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) Clean Boxing Program soon after.
A match between DeGale and WBO titlist Gilberto Ramirez later this year would be outstanding. The WBA champion Tyron Zeuge is a non-factor. - Michael Montero
Jack is an underrated fighter, but DeGale is a special, potential crossover star who has the skills, looks and personality to be the face of British boxing for years to come. He's not a perfect fighter by any means, but he's shown marked improvement from his early days. The best word to describe Jack is 'steady', but I don't think that will be enough to beat DeGale, who brings a little more athleticism and creativity to the table. If he can go for 12 hard rounds, he should have no problem taking a decision. - Shawn Smith
As solid a performer as Jack is, DeGale should have too much natural ability for the transplanted Swede, however, he may not have things all his own way. Jack doesn’t give his opponents much to work with. Tall, strong and with a high guard, he has a decent jab (to both head and body) that he employs to keep opponents contained. He'll also, essentially, be the house fighter.
DeGale, though, is unorthodox, has better movement and can whip his shots home to good effect. Though I struggle to see DeGale landing anything harder than George Groves managed to (Groves seemed to be targeting the short right hand around the guard that limited Nevadan Derek Edwards knocked Badou gaga with three years ago), he should be able to land enough left hands to keep Jack tucked up, that will in turn allow him to exploit the resulting gaps. And while Jack's body punching is often highlighted as being 'underrated', it should be noted that 'Chunky' can really work a man over downstairs – which may prove to be a telling factor in the fight. That and the fact Jack is likely to find himself bamboozled throughout.
Though he's fought on the road in his last three fights, DeGale has won widely on the cards, whereas Jack's record is littered with Ds, MDs and SDs - suggesting that his style is perhaps too understated to even count. I'll take DeGale to pound out a comfortable decision that will see him become only the second British fighter (the other being Joe Calzaghe) to genuinely prove themselves top dog in the 12 stone division. - Andrew Harrison
As Boxing Monthly's resident enthusiast for Swedish boxing I feel duty bound to tip Jack, whose cool and calm demeanour impressed we when I interviewed him last year. Although I like DeGale I have always found him a frustrating boxer to watch and I don't share others' lofty opinions of his talents. He is awkward and skilled but his work ethic in the ring is questionable. I think that the patient and controlled Jack will nick a close, probably split and possibly controversial decision victory. The draw is even worth a punt I feel. - Luke G. Williams
I think DeGale is superior in most departments but his tendency to drift through rounds and sit on the ropes brings Jack right in to it. Had this been in Vegas I'd be quite confident of Jack getting the decision but New York hasn't served up too many stinkers in recent times, not that I recall anyway, so I'm going with DeGale to prevail on points. - Marcus Bellinger
I’m really excited for this fight. Not often we have unification bouts, so it’ll be interesting to see. I think DeGale will take it on points. Jack is a good fighter, and I rate him, but DeGale is on that world class level. I think if he puts 100 per cent focus into every fight/training session, he could be an elite fighter.
I think the occasion of a unification bout will bring the best out in DeGale. After watching a few interviews, he looks focused and is in great shape for the fight. He tends to let a few rounds slip in the middle, but I’m confident he’ll overcome this issue.
I back ‘Chunky’ to take both belts, via a UD. He'll then have to fight Callum Smith back in the UK, which will be an amazing fight. 2017 looks to be a great year for boxing, and I just can't wait! - Haroon Ahmed
Final count: DeGale 11 Jack 2