This weekend's Box Office on Sky is promoter Frank Warren's follow up to September's outstanding Magnificent 7 event and with two international, World Title bouts featuring Amir Khan and Wladimir Klitschko added to the roster, it promises to be a must see for fight fans.
On show are prospective world champions Nathan Cleverly, Matthew Macklin, Kell Brook and Frankie Gavin but pick of the home scraps has to be the much anticipated match for the British super-middleweight title between James DeGale and Paul Smith. It's remiss of me perhaps to mention Smith last as he is the current champion but such has been DeGale's exposure since he won 2008 Olympic Gold that the Londoner has fast-tracked his way to this opportunity on the back of eight straight wins. But is he ready?
It is only 22 months since 'Chunky' turned pro and yet it seems a long, long time ago that he was being booed by the Birmingham crowd on that difficult debut night. DeGale 1.17 has very quickly morphed into a flashy, good-to-watch boxer and the stoppages, six of them in eight, have followed. You wouldn't describe him as a puncher, stoppages tend to come at this stage of a career (particularly for a talented former amateur) and DeGale still has the tendency to throw wide and sometimes slapping punches but he is extremely talented and has that winning commodity; speed. It could be the key to the fight.
Paul Smith has only lost once in 30 fights and the Liverpuddlian has put together a solid if unspectacular resume. 'Smigga' 3.45 has looked rugged and tough in winning both recent city-derby showdowns at the Echo arena against Tony's Quigley and Dodson. The latter, his first defence of the British Title was a terrific effort given he suffered horrible cuts in the opening rounds but came from behind to win. If it becomes a proper battle keep your eye on the in-running market because Smith has the stuff to emerge on top again.
But the pattern of the fight and in turn the result of it really depends on DeGale. If he can check his ego and use his skill and speed then he ought to be able to box his way to a decision win. I do wonder if DeGale is as confident as he portrays or as tough as he thinks but he deserves to be moved quickly and this fight may reveal more about him.
Like DeGale, Dereck Chisora has not looked short on confidence as he has risen rapidly through the ranks but having won titles at British & Commonwealth level, Chisora steps out of the baby pool to challenge IBF/WBO/IBO Heavyweight World Champion Wladimir Klitschko. Depending on your take he has nothing to lose or is onto a hiding; I think probably a big slice of both.
The task at hand for Chisora 10.5 is quite literally huge: not only is there a gulf in talent as well as experience but the North Londoner will give up around five inches in height and seven inches in reach. There is no doubt that his win against Sam Sexton in September proved that Chisora is improving but that is European form at best and I'm struggling to see a way in for him here. The truth is this fight is all about Klitschko and how he wins.
As always in a Wladimir Klitschko fight, you are essentially betting on how positively he will approach it and when he decides to risk throwing that big right hand. He ought to be a fair bet to win by KO 1.33 given he has ended each of his last five fights that way and Chisora as well as being out of his depth, also happens to look hittable. But things are never that clear cut with Klitschko. He took 10 rounds to despatch Samuel Peter last time despite thumping that slow coach at will and previously only a last minute stoppage spared his blushes against Eddie Chambers who practically invited an early bath. It is now three-and-a-half years since Klitschko stopped an opponent before half way, so tread carefully.
Many will fancy Klitschko by KO/TKO/DQ 1.33 but I just don't trust him. Now, if Chisora fights as recklessly as he talks - and he has given the signals that he will be aggressive - then Klitschko could look spectacular here. Equally, Chisora could use his speed to buy time. Allied to Klitschko's reticence it may be this fight goes beyond halfway. I wouldn't go mad about it but my strategy would be to back a group of individual rounds for the stoppage and my idea would be to look at rounds 6-10 inclusive which works out at around even money 2.0.
By Alex Steedman
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