By Terence Dooley
Eddie Hearn has told BoxingScene that the quest to nail down Super middleweight contender James DeGale’s opponent for Hearn’s November 22nd show at Liverpool’s ExCel Arena is going right down to the wire. Early reports threw the name of Marco Antonio Periban, 20-2-1 (13), out there. However, Hearn came home from Monaco earlier today then headed straight to Matchroom’s Brentwood-based offices to finalise a foe for “Chunky”. He brought BoxingScene up-to-date during a phone call earlier this evening.
“There’s a press conference tomorrow,” he said. “Periban is in the mix, [America’s] Derek Edwards [27-3-1 (14)] is in the mix, we made an offer to [Austin’s] Brian Vera [23-8 (14)] as well. We’re literally tying it up now. I’ve seen it (the Periban news) break online, and he’s definitely a front-runner, but don’t surprised if it isn’t him.”
Still, and purely in this writer's opinion, it is likely that DeGale will net himself a Mexican in Liverpool.
Whoever is in the opposite corner, DeGale, 19-1 (13), will be keen to sharpen his tools. “Chunky” is the mandatory challenger for Carl Froch’s IBF title. Negotiations have not started yet, however Hearn stressed that a potential Froch-DeGale meeting could still be on the cards due to Froch’s determination to keep hold of his cherished IBF title.
He said: “Yeah, I don’t think he’ll be keen to vacate his belt, so he’ll be looking for DeGale to go out and look sensational on the 22nd to give him a lift profile-wise, make some noise and make that fight as big as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carl take that fight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he waits for a fight that ticks his boxes—whether that’s spring, summer, a Vegas fight or one at the City Ground [home of Nottingham Forest FC, Froch's hometown football club].
“Carl needs to get fired up for a fight. It’s important that he’s motivated as he’s probably got one or two fights left in his career, depending on what he wants to do. If he doesn’t fight DeGale, he’ll have to vacate—I can’t see him doing that. Carl’s in a great position, he fills any arena in the country, has had a great career, but I think there’s a few boxes he wants to tick, and, as his promoter, I’m trying to do that for him.”
There is talk of a long-awaited Las Vegas debut for the 37-year-old. However, he would need someone who draws a bit of water over there in the opposite corner to help sell the fight. Froch’s name will shift tickets, American viewers like his style, so if they can add, say, Julio Cesar Chavez, to the mix there is a good chance of a big fight in front of a huge Vegas crowd at some point in 2015.
“I was speaking (to Chavez’s representatives) in Monaco, Chavez is a fight we’d been keen to make, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere so we can’t afford to wait around. Vegas is high on the priorities, definitely. I still like the DeGale fight, though, because it’s a good, tough fight, but I know what Carl wants and he deserves to be able to achieve some of the targets he’s set in his career.”
Either way, the IBF have set a February deadline for Froch’s mandatory defence against DeGale, so there is a fixed timescale on the domestic fight. Froch, though, holds all the marbles in this one; he can take his time and wait to see what DeGale produces in Liverpool on the undercard of Tony Bellew’s rematch with Nathan Cleverly, which is being show live on Sky Sports Box Office.
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