DeGale looking to end year on a high before busy 2013
Big fight preview: James DeGale vs Fulgencio Zuniga
By Michael J Jones
Reigning European super-middleweight James DeGale keeps busy tonight with a twelve-round contest against experienced Columbian Fulgencio Zuniga. The bout tops the bill at Hull’s Bonus Arena in a card which also features unbeaten up-and-comers Chris Eubank Jr, Kid Galahad and Samir Mouneimne against respective opposition. The Hennessy-promoted show is being shown live on Channel Five and is a good show-case for some of our finest young pros.
Former Olympic Gold medallist DeGale insisted his main reason for parting with former promoter Frank Warren was the lack of ring activity offered to him in the first phase of his promising career. The Zuniga bout will be his second in two months and the 13-1 (9) southpaw looks set to fight five or six times next year starting with a European title defence in January.
Firstly though, the gifted six-footer has to deal with his co-challenger tonight. Zuniga may be 35-years-old but is no slouch and only two years ago took reigning IBF light-heavyweight champion Tavouris Cloud the full twelve rounds. At 25-6-1 (22), the big-hitting visitor has only ever lost to the very best from middleweight to 175lbs. In his last bout he travelled to South Africa to last the full route with highly-rated Thomas Oosthuizen for the IBO belt, though lost widely on all three scorecards.
In between those two defeats however, the grizzled veteran knocked-out dangerous countryman Alejandro Berrio in seven rounds. Berrio was a former world champion who held victories over Yusaf Mack and Robert Stieglitz but was worn down by the still-capable Zuniga.
DeGale has made hard work of two of his three bouts since losing a razor-thin decision to arch rival George Groves 18 months ago. The Londoner’s European title win over Piotr Wilczewski saw “Chunky” take plenty of leather before claiming a majority decision in Liverpool.
An impressive stoppage of veteran Cristian Sanavia followed before the champion's second defence against Frenchman Hadillah Mohoumadi in October. DeGale won well on the scorecards against Mohoumadi but was made to work hard in the middle and late rounds and shipped some thudding shots to his chin. The 26-year-old has revealed since that he has been suffering from a knee injury for the latter two contests (since treated). Time will tell how much that has affected recent performances but against both Wilczewski and Mohoumadi the quick-handed champion made little impression with his punching power and took too much punishment over the full route. If he gets drawn-in too much against a savvy banger like Zuniga it could spell trouble.
Zuniga has seen better days but he still has power and can go the full route to lose a clear decision. A stoppage win for DeGale would be something of a statement as the only fighters to do so previously have been Kelly Pavlik and Lucian Bute.
The contest is for the vacant WBC Silver super-middleweight title.
Heading the supporting bouts is Brighton prospect Chris Eubank Jr who takes on Latvian Olegs Fedotous in his second bout scheduled for eight rounds. Just a week ago, the 8-0 (3) speedster outscored Welsh veteran Bradley Pryce on the Tyson Fury-Kevin Johnson undercard.
Fedotous is a decent test at this stage of the 23-year-old’s career. Known as “The Viking”, Fedotous is 15-9 (11) and fairly durable. Of his nine defeats, seven have come to unbeaten fighters. Only Yves Studer and Khoren Gevor have stopped him and three years ago he also went six rounds with Irishman Andy Lee in Germany.
Expect Eubank Jr to take a look early on before getting his quick hands working to record a landslide points decision.
Also in an 8 x 3’s is super-bantamweight Kid Galahad who takes on Spaniard Ivan Ruiz Moroto. After taking on a variety of journeymen early in his career, Galahad has had something of a breakthrough year in 2012 with two wins for the WBC International title. An off-the-floor decision over former multi-titlist Jason Booth in February was followed up three months later with an injury-stoppage of Josh Wale taking Galahad’s record to 12-0 (5).
The Sheffield switch-hitter, real name Abdul Barry Awad, appears to be improving with every contest and is only a notch behind the domestic elite of the division in fellow unbeatens' Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton. The Ingle-trained super-bantamweight looks to be far too talented for his opponent, a former Spanish champion.
Moroto is ten-years older at 32 and will be having his first bout outside native Spain where he has compiled a decent 15-2 (7) record. The Spaniard may give it a go and hang around a few rounds but I foresee him being systematically taken apart in five or six lively rounds.
Also on the card is featherweight hot-shot Samir Mouneimne who takes on Scotland’s David Savage over ten rounds. Hull fighter Mouneimne is 10-0-1 (3) and expected to beat Savage comfortably. Mouneimne is the only man to have beaten current British champion Lee Selby and also holds a close decision win over tough Scot Dougie Curran, who has beaten and drawn with Savage in two bouts.
Savage will be game but one feels will come up short over the distance against his quicker opponent.