By Jake Donovan
Showtime's unofficial super middleweight tournament will proceed as planned as all fighters made weight for the televised doubleheader Saturday evening from the D.C. Armory in Washington, DC.
Headlining the show, Badou Jack makes the second defense of his version of the 168-pound crown as he faces former long-reigning champ Lucian Bute. In chief support, James DeGale fights outside of England for the third straight time as he makes a mandatory defense versus Mexico's Rogelio Medina.
All four boxers were well within the divisional limit.
Jack (20-1-1, 12KOs) tipped the scales at 167.4 pounds, while Bute (32-3, 25KOs) came in at 167 pounds for his first fight in the United States since 2004.
DeGale (22-1, 14KOs) checked in at 167.6 pounds for the second defense of his title. Medina (36-6, 30KOs) weighed 167.8 pounds for his first career title fight.
The winners of both bouts will be contractually obligated to square off later this year, with Showtime also to televise.
Jack pulled off one of the biggest upsets of 2015 with his 12-round majority decision win over previously unbeaten titlist Anthony Dirrell last April. His first successful defense also came in spite of the betting odds in place, edging out George Groves - the only man to hand DeGale a loss in the pro ranks - over 12 rounds last December.
Bute captured a title way back in 2007, making nine successful defenses while becoming one of the biggest draws in boxing-friendly Quebec, Canada. His reign crashed and burned in May '12, suffering his first career loss in a 5th round knockout at the hands of Carl Froch on the road in Nottingham, England.
The now 36-year old southpaw has lost three of his last five dating back to that night, suffering a 12-round loss to Jean Pascal in Jan. '14, though enjoying a consolation prize in being part of the richest fight ever staged in Canada. It led to a lengthy layoff before returning with a win last summer, leading to a title challenge versus DeGale. He came up short, but his spirited 12-round effort was enough to land a second straight title shot.
DeGale made history in becoming Great Britain's first-ever Olympic Gold medalist to capture a title in the pro ranks (former heavyweight king Lennox Lewis represented Canada in the 1988 Olympics). He pulled off the feat with a 12-round win over Andre Dirrell (who fights this evening in Atlantic City on Spike TV) to win a vacant super middleweight belt last May in Boston.
His first defense came last November, outpointing Bute over 12 spirited rounds. He was then mandated to face Jose Uzcategui, who was forced to withdraw from title consideration after suffering an untimely injury.
Reinserted back into the fold was Medina, who has won four straight but whose title fight comes by sheer luck. The 27-year old boxer from Mexico - who weighed 167.8 pounds - was originally due to face Julius Jackson in a final eliminator last fall. An untimely injury led to Uzcategui replacing him in said bout, scoring a shocking 2nd round knockout to become the mandatory challenger.
An injury suffered by Uzcategui put Medina right back into contention, essentially doing nothing to arrive at the title stage. Regardless he is now in position to - with a win - become the second boxer from Mexico to claim a super middleweight title. Gilberto 'Zurdo' Ramirez snatched that piece of history with a 12-round over Arthur Abraham earlier this month in Las Vegas.
The winners of Saturday's bouts will move on to a title unification later this fall, to air live on Showtime.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow him on his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2