James DeGale has both the speed and power to blast Lucian Bute into retirement
The Olympic gold medalist is crossing the Atlantic once more to defend his super middleweight title but should still easily overcome ageing Canadian
Britain’s golden boy James DeGale has decided to skip the customary homecoming fight for a newly-crowned champion.
He has instead chosen to return to North America to make the first defence of the IBF super middleweight title that he claimed in Boston against Lucian Bute in Canada.
The Videotron Centre in Quebec will host nearly 19,000 fans, with the majority hoping that their national hero can regain his beloved title at the age of 35.
Yet DeGale has shown the ability to thrive in hostile atmospheres - knocking down the talented Andre Dirrell in the second round before toughing out a unanimous decision victory back in May to take the belt.
It was a fight that justified the Olympian’s standing at the highest level and added weight to his case of being number one in the division now that Andre Ward and Carl Froch have moved on to other escapades.
Consequently, DeGale is the 1/6 favourite heading into Saturday night’s clash.
Nevertheless, an experienced veteran awaits with the ambition of recreating his former glories.
Lucian Bute may be most well-known for his crushing defeat at the hands of Froch, but the Romanian-born Canadian has a pedigree that far exceeds that of DeGale.
‘Le Tombeur’ has amassed 34 pro fights which is 12 more than his opponent and in his prime made 9 consecutive defences of the IBF title that now belongs to his opponent on Saturday.
Those glory years were between 2008 and 2011, however, and he has since gone on to lose twice – first against ‘The Cobra’ and most recently versus Jean Pascal last year in a light heavyweight experiment that simply did not work.
Lucian Bute is therefore a 4/1 outsider to cause a shock come fight night.
The pressure may be on DeGale to prove his superiority, but the Brit looks the real deal and his credentials are very impressive.
‘Chunky’ adopts the southpaw stance and his awkward style has transitioned very nicely to the pro game following his Olympic gold medal in 2008.
His two-inch reach advantage is a great asset to have against Bute since it means that the Englishman can keep the fight at long range and does not necessarily have to exchange with the hard-hitting Bute.
DeGale should not have too any problems facing another southpaw in Bute, either, judging by his last fight against Dirrell.
Expect DeGale to catch the eye of the judges by being the slicker and faster of the two fighters, with the 29-year-old 11/8 to win on points.
The Londoner has also earned a 64 per cent KO ratio, and, after seriously hurting Dirrell, his powerful looping left hand has become somewhat of a trademark
At the age of 35, Bute could struggle at the weight and therefore any big power shots ought to have the desired effect.
The Brit did however fade quite badly against Dirrell and Bute will therefore be looking to take DeGale into the later rounds.
The Canadian has always been a big puncher - boasting an impressive 74 per cent KO ratio - and he will not be gun-shy having excelled in numerous high-profile fights during his illustrious career.
Yet DeGale’s poise and control ought to keep him out of trouble and ensure that he returns to England with his title intact.