It’s been confirmed that IBF 168 lb champion James DeGale will make the maiden defence of his title on November 28th against former champion Lucien Bute in Quebec, Canada – the Romanian fighter’s adopted backyard – and following that fight “Chunky” has stated he only wants the big names in the future.
There had been high hopes of a rematch with bitter rival George Groves – who squeezed past DeGale in their close 2011 encounter – although those plans were scotched when Groves came up short in last month’s WBC title tilt against Badou Jack on the Mayweather/Berto undercard in Las Vegas.
DeGale won his title back in May against Andre Dirrell, when he travelled out to Boston and made his debut under the Premier Boxing Champions banner, beating the American on points after decking him earlier in the fight.
Speaking to Sky Sports as he headed out to Canada to announce the Bute fight, the Londoner – who also won Olympic gold at Beijing in 2008, claimed that when he does the business against the 35 year old Bute, he wants unifications, though is not beyond a rematch with Dirrell should it make sense.
“I’m looking at [Andre] Ward, I’m looking at Dirrell again, I’m looking at [Arthur] Abraham, the big fighters,” he said, appearing to discount a Groves fight for the time being.
“I just want to get in there and box the best. I know on my day I am very very hard to beat, so it’s all looking good.”
It’s unclear what Ward, who holds the WBA (sup) 168 lb belt intends to do, although there is every indication that he will soon vacate and move up to 175 lbs full-time, having returned at a 172 catch-weight against Paul Smith in June.
WBO champion Abraham, despite being now 35 himself, has been looking good again in recent fights, last enjoying a knockout win over old foe Robert Stieglitz in July in what was their fourth, and hopefully final, meeting. He will box again in Germany against a TBA in November.