By Scott Gilfoid: In a pair of mismatches, IBF super middleweight champion James “Chunky” DeGale (23-1-1, 14 KOs) will be defending against bottom #15 IBF fringe contender Caleb Truax (28-3-2, 18 KOs), and IBF World featherweight champion Lee Selby (25-1, 9 KOs) will be fighting #11 IBF Eduardo Ramirez (20-0-3, 7 KOs) on December 9 at the Copper Box Arena in London, England.
Those are disappointing fights, as DeGale and Selby are capable of much better than this. Ramirez and Truax are both ranked near or at the very bottom of the International Boxing Federation’s rankings in their respective divisions.
You would expect more from DeGale and Selby, wouldn’t you? This is actually more of the same from both unfortunately. In the 2 years that DeGale has held the IBF 168 lb. title, he’s only faced one threat to beating him in Badou Jack, who he fought to a 12 round draw earlier this year on January 14.
Before that, DeGale took 2 easy title defenses against Lucian Bute, 35, and Rogelio Medina. Those guys didn’t have the talent to beat DeGale. Bute was a good fighter years ago, but he was clearly not what he used to be when he fought him.
Truax has lost to these fighters in the last 5 years:
• Jermain Taylor
• Daniel Jacobs
• Anthony Dirrell
Truax also has a couple of draws in fights against journeyman Ossie Duran (28-11-2) in 2014 and Phil Williams (11-3) in 2010.
Truax has a little pop in his punches, so DeGale can’t afford to take him too lightly. If Truax lands something square on DeGale, he could drop him like Badou Jack did in their fight last January. DeGale tasted the canvas in round 12, and he lost his front teeth along the way. Truax doesn’t hit as hard as Jack, and he’s not as big as him, but he’s got respectable power. DeGale can’t afford to drop his guard against Truax and let him tee off. Of Truax’s last 9 wins, 7 of them have come by knockout. That tells you that Truax can punch a little. The only problem is, Truax has been fighting generally poor opposition when he’s picked up those wins.
Truax’s best victories of his career have come against these fighters:
• Andy Kolle
• Kerry Hope
• Derek Ennis
• KeAndrae Leatherwood
• Matt Vanda
• Donovan George
Donovan George was seen as a good fighter at one point in his career. Truax’s 6th round knockout win over George on June 21, 2013, shows you that he’s got some talent. George was a fighter to be reckoned with up until 2012. That’s when things went sour for the hard hitting American with him losing to Edwin Rodriguez, Truax, Adonis Stevenson, Sean Monaghan, Lionel Thompson and Derrick Findley. Truax at least showed that he could beat a guy with big time power in George.
This will be DeGale’s fourth defense of his IBF strap. Truax, 34, is coming into the DeGale fight next month with a nice 2-3 record in his last 5 fights. At this point in Truax’s career, he’s not even winning 50 percent of his fights.
DeGale obviously picked him well. Truax has won his last 2 fights though against KeAndrae Leatherwood (20-4-1) and Zachariah Kelley (5-15). Those guys aren’t exactly the cream of the crop at super middleweight, are they? Before that, Truax lost to Anthony Dirrell by a 1st round knockout, and he was also beaten by former WBA World middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs by a 12th round knockout on April 24, 2015.
It’s unclear whether DeGale was attracted by Truax getting knocked out quickly by Dirrell in round 1 or his knockout loss to Jacobs. One of the two losses for Truax might have led to DeGale taking a shine to fighting him. It’s too bad DeGale didn’t opt to take on someone with that’s currently fighting at a high level right now like Chris Eubank Jr. or Jose Uzcategui. Those guys would be dangerous though, and DeGale might lose. That’s obviously not what he wants. Truax is a essentially a risk-free opponent for DeGale. Technically, Truax is still considered a contender due to his #15 ranking with the IBF, but just barely.
“Truax is a good solid fighter with a top pedigree,” said DeGale. “He’s been in with some quality opponents like Daniel Jacobs, Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell. He’ll be fighting away from home so he’s going to bring it on and try to take my World title, but I’m the best Super-Middleweight in the world and I’m going into the ring full of confidence and 100 percent fit,” said DeGale.
This is DeGale’s first fight since having surgery on his right shoulder. DeGale had been dealing with a shoulder problem for a while, and he finally opted to have it repaired after fighting to a controversial 12 round draw against Badou Jack. DeGale had to have tested the shoulder out already, so he should be ready to go on December 9 against Truax.
What we don’t know is whether DeGale will have the same power in his punches with his right arm that he had before. DeGale has never been much of a puncher during his 8-year pro career, but he had enough power to make his opponents respect him. If DeGale no longer has any power in his shots with his right hand, he’s going to have problems. Look at heavyweight Dillian Whyte. He used to have a powerful left hook. But since having surgery on his left shoulder in 2015, Whyte can no longer punch with that arm like he did before. Whyte’s left hand was his main knockout weapon. Now he’s forced to use his right hand most of the time for his power shots, and he’s got nowhere near the same power with that hand. Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy is another example of a fighter who lost his power in his left hand after having shoulder surgery. Lacy was a devastating knockout artist with his left hook in the prime of his career. But once he suffered a shoulder injury, he was never the same. If DeGale can’t get his power back in his right hand, he’s going to be a sitting duck for the top fighters in the super middleweight division. DeGale will still likely beat Truax regardless of how weak his right hand may be, but he might not be able to beat the top talent in the 168 lb. division unless he can regain full strength in his right shoulder.
The 30-year-old Selby will be making his fifth defense of his IBF featherweight title against little known 24-year-old fringe contender Eduardo Ramirez (20-0-3, 7 KOs). Ramirez has never beaten anyone of note during his 7-year pro career. Ramirez recently fought to a 10 round draw against Leduan Batthlemy on September 26. Before that, Ramirez’s best win of his career was a 9 round decision over Roman Morales in 2015.
Selby hasn’t been in a hurry to fight the talented fighters in the 126 lb. division since he won the IBF title against Evgeny Gradovich in 2015. Selby has been taking it easy in defending his title against Fernando Montiel, Eric Hunter, Andoni Gago and Jonathan Victor Barros.
Selby is getting ready to defend his IBF title in 2018 against #1 IBF Josh Warrington. Selby isn’t going to take any chances before then by fighting a talented contender at 126 like Scott Quigg, Carl Frampton or Joseph Diaz Jr. Those 3 fighters would have a VERY good chance of beating Selby, and beating him quite easily. The difference in power between those guys and Selby is significant.
Also on the DeGale vs. Truax card are the following fights:
• Daniel Dubois vs. Dorian Darch
• Anthony Yarde vs. Nikola Sjekloca