The cat was already out of the bag, but today it became official: the rematch between Caleb Truax and James DeGale will transpire on Saturday, April 7, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Truax-DeGale II will be pinned to a contest between 154-pound title holders Jarrett Hurd and Erislandy Lara. SHOWTIME will televise.
DeGale and Truax met on Dec. 9 of last year at the Copper Box Arena in London with DeGale’s IBF 168-pound title at stake. This was a homecoming fight for DeGale, a former Olympic gold medalist, who was making his first start on British soil in almost three years. The fighter nicknamed “Chunky” won his title in Boston and made his first three defenses in Quebec City, Washington DC, and Brooklyn.
While this was a world title fight, the match was looked upon as no more than a stay-busy fight for the Englishman. Bookmakers quoted odds of 100/1, shorthand for “this contest is such a terrible mismatch that we won’t even bother to book it.” But DeGale, who turned 32 last month, fought as if he had grown old overnight. And when the smoke cleared, Truax, who stubbornly pressed the action, emerged the victor by a well-deserved majority decision.
It was a mammoth upset, the Upset of the Year according to The Sweet Science and several other web sites.
Six months prior to the bout, DeGale had an operation on his right shoulder that kept him from competing in the World Boxing Super Series 168-pound tournament where he hoped to catch up with old rival George Groves in the finals. In hindsight, DeGale wondered if he had come back too soon.
There may still be time to salvage a rematch with Groves, who won a close decision over DeGale (23-2-1) back in 2011 in a bout that came early in the careers of both men. However, DeGale envisioned that the second meeting would unfold before a great multitude in a British soccer stadium and that now seems far-fetched. Indeed, given his poor showing against Truax, there’s reason to think that Truax will humble him again. While it’s not a good analogy, we’re reminded that Iran Barkley won his second meeting with Thomas Hearns after scoring a huge upset over Hearns in their first encounter.
The pride of Minneapolis, Truax (29-3-2) was stopped in the 12th round by Daniel Jacobs in his first crack at a world title. Two fights later, he was knocked out in the opening round by Anthony Dirrell and some folks thought it best that he retire and put his college degree to good use. (He has a BA in sociology from the University of Minnesota.)
Contrary to the first published reports, DeGale-Truax I had no rematch clause. However, when DeGale pleaded for a rematch, Truax said he would be willing to accommodate him and has proved to be a man of his word.
DeGale-Truax II is the co-main. The bout between Jarrett Hurd (21-0, 15 KOs) and the veteran Erislandy Lara (25-2-2, 14 KOs) is the featured attraction. This pairing was announced on Jan. 24 when SHOWTIME unveiled their spring schedule but the venue was left open. It is a unification bout of sorts, a label that no longer carries the cachet it once did as there are so many titles out there nowadays that unification fights have become mundane. Lara holds the WBA “Super” World 154-pound title. Hurd is the IBF champion.
Hurd and Lara appeared in separate bouts at the Barclays Center in October of last year. Hurd overcame a bad cut over his left eye to score a 10th round stoppage of Austin Trout. It was Hurd’s seventh consecutive win by stoppage and it came against a former title holder who hadn’t previously been stopped. Meanwhile, Lara outclassed former U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha, breezing to a clear-cut decision.
Akin to his fellow Cuban ex-patriot Guillermo Rigondeaux, Lara is a skilled technician whose style doesn’t make for fan-friendly fights. He has a running feud with ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael who in his Friday chats has referenced Lara as a good cure for insomnia.
Hurd will have a 4-inch height advantage and to the naked eye looks to be the much bigger man. This has all the earmarks of a “changing of the guard” fight. However, Lara has won six straight since losing a disputed split decision to Canelo Alvarez and may have the style to frustrate Hurd, the younger man by seven years.
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