By Terence Dooley
James 'Chunky' DeGale will take on Marco Antonio Periban at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on November 22nd in what should be his last fight before a world title fight, according to this morning's edition of The Sun . DeGale, 19-1 (13), will meet the Mexican ahead of his IBF title challenge, which is still up in the air as champion Carl Froch seems likely to move forward with a rubber match against long-time rival Mikkel Kessler at London’s O2 Arena in January.
DeGale has spoken about a Froch fight in recent times, and promoter Eddie Hearn seems to like the idea of it, but the champion is the consummate contrarian, he may fancy moving to 2-1 in his series with Kessler. Either way, DeGale will meet the 29-year-old Periban on the undercard of Tony Bellew’s rematch with Nathan Cleverly.
Ideally, DeGale, 28, would want to wrench the belt from Froch, but 'The Cobra' may not entertain another British rival—he twice stopped George Groves in his last two fights (TKO 9 and KO 8 respectively). It’s a great shame, the Kessler match-up has lost much of its lustre due to Froch’s relative dominance when winning their May 2013 rematch on points. Indeed, a growing number of U.K. fans believe that DeGale, a stylish southpaw, has the tools and moves to beat his Nottingham-based rival.
The 2008 Olympic Gold medallist has barely put a foot wrong as a pro, winning the WBA International, British, EBU, WBO Inter-Continental and WBC Silver 168lb titles en route to the IBF’s 1# contender spot. A narrow majority decision loss to London rival George Groves in May 2011 is the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record—the 2005 and 2006 ABA middleweight title winner has called long and hard for a return fight with Groves only to see 'Saint' George beat him to a world title shot.
Periban was mooted as a potential opponent in November 2013, the WBC ordered the fight for the right to take on then-WBC titlist Sakio Bika, who lost the belt to Anthony Dirrell in August of this year. Periban, 20-2-1 (13), met Bika for the vacant belt back in June 2013, losing by majority decision, then drew with Badou Jack in his next fight. A 10-round decision loss to J’Leon Love in May rubbed salt into the Mexican’s wounds. The 29-year-old has not won since March 2013—a second-round KO over Sam Miller for the NABF title—and he has it all to do against DeGale, who looked excellent against Brandon Gonzales at Wembley Stadium in May.
DeGale’s the in-form fighter going in, he has home-country advantage and his style looks made for the top-level, so Periban is facing the very real prospect of going four fights without a win come November 22. However, DeGale has it all to lose—the IBF will strip him of his ranking should he slip up—so the top-ranked contender could, and some might say should, have sat on his ranking. However, DeGale’s all about rounds in the bank in recent times; he will be banking on a tool-sharpening win over his Mexican rival, who is being given the chance to gate-crash the IBF ratings—he does not currently feature in their Top Fifteen ranked Super middles.
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