By Terence Dooley
Poland’s EBU super middleweight champion Piotr ‘Wilk’ Wilczewski’s voluntary defence against James ‘Chunky’ DeGale, 10-1 (8), took an interesting turn on Friday when reports from Poland indicated that the 32-year-old has yet to finalize the September 17th meeting. The EBU, however, had issued an email confirming that the contest has been lodged with them as well as placing the bout, including the date, on their list of forthcoming contests.
Rumors abound that George Groves – initially called out by Piotr here on BoxingScene last month – is now a target for the 29-1 (10) champion and there could be a chance that Groves, a narrow but fair winner over DeGale in May, is given the EBU title tilt if Piotr’s final pre-fight demands are not met. Prompting a flurry of speculation over which of the two Londoners will contest the title.
However, the EBU rules state that, ‘6.2.1. A European Champion wishing to defend his title voluntarily must first obtain the approval of the E.B.U. Council. The full record of the prospective challenger shall be submitted to the E.B.U. Council for approval’, and, ‘(ii) If the E.B.U. Council approves the voluntary defence the European Champion shall not engage in a voluntary defence of his title against any other opponent prior to the approved contest’.
They also declare that boxers who withdraw from agreed contests are financially penalised. Clearing up one of Team Piotr’s demands, they wanted assurances of remuneration should James pull out, and throwing cold water over the prospect of Piotr defending against anyone but DeGale without incurring the risk of EBU sanctions.
Indeed, the latest developments followed hot on the heels of questions over whether DeGale should be eligible for an EBU fight as per the general understanding that fighters cannot fight for the belt if coming off a defeat. This is the scenario faced by former European light-middleweight boss Ryan Rhodes after his loss to WBC titlist Saul Alvarez last month.
This state of affairs can be circumvented by the EBU’s championship committee should they deem that a pugilist’s last outing was a close defeat against strong opposition. If you move hard and fast with the logic this should apply to Rhodes. Sure, the twelfth stanza stoppage loss was not close but the opposition was more than worthy. Food for thought for ‘The Spice Boy’ given the precedents set by previous contests, not to mention the Wilczewski-DeGale bout.
For example, Matt Skelton vied for the EBU heavyweight crown when meeting Paolo Vidoz in 2008; the Bedford brawler was taking part in his first fight since a wide WBA world title reverse to Ruslan Chagaev earlier that year.
Therefore there is plenty of evidence to suggest that DeGale, ranked number four by the EBU, is a worthy challenger. Especially when you consider that Arthur Abraham is top dog in their ratings but unavailable, Brian Magee has a bigger fight on the horizon, Groves was offered the opportunity but looked to be angling for an International fight, Stanyslav Kashtanov has a meeting lined up for one of the many versions of the WBA belt, Mehdi Bouadla is probably going to take a while to recover from the Mikkel Kessler beat down, Khoren Gevor has a WBC International tilt lined up and Lolenga Mock is in mixed form.
All said and done, and given the EBU’s announcement of the date, it appears that DeGale will be presented with a chance to get himself back on track come September as he bids to begin the rebuilding process.
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