SIX weeks ago, James DeGale dumped his IBF super-middleweight title to avoid a high risk-low reward mandatory defence against Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui and instead chase domestic rivals and the kind of fights that would, financially, help usher the 2008 Olympic gold medallist towards a fruitful and early-ish retirement.
Since then there has been talk of DeGale fighting Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr, both of whom would seemingly fit the bill, while today a new name entered the frame: WBA regular super-middleweight champion Rocky Fielding.
Mentioned on social media by pound-for-pound podcasters Fight Disciples and Boxing News stalwart Chris Walker, this potential fight, rumoured for Liverpool in November, would appear to tick all the required boxers for DeGale. Domestic opponent? Check. Domestic fight? Check. Headline event? Check. Danger (for which he’ll be adequately rewarded)? Check.
Even the title, though a downgrade of sorts – going from a full IBF belt to a regular WBA version was presumably not the plan – is still a ‘world’ title, one that will no doubt entice DeGale, 24-2-1 (14), and get him hungry for gold all over again.
Hunger, after all, is the key. It’s what DeGale, now 32, appeared to lack when losing his IBF title to Caleb Truax last December, and it’s what Rocky Fielding, a 31-year-old last seen spectacularly dethroning Tyron Zeuge inside five rounds in Germany, currently has in spades.
That’s why Jamie Moore, Fielding’s high-flying coach, is excited by the prospect of a potential Fielding vs. DeGale fight (if quick to warn those getting ahead of themselves).
“I quite fancy the James DeGale fight,” Moore told Boxing News. “I think it’s a good fight for Rocky. I think James DeGale is a terrific fighter, but I also think Rocky has the tools to deal with him.
“If that fight can be made, that would be great. But it’s still very early stages. It would be really premature to even mention anyone’s name.
“It’s not for Rocky to worry about. We’ll do it as a team in the background. I really don’t want Rocky to worry about fighting at the moment. I want him to enjoy this moment because he’s worked all his life for this (WBA title). He’s off enjoying it, but he knows we’re talking about his next fight and he keeps asking questions.
“We’re working on stuff behind the scenes. There have been a few fights mooted and they’re talking November. But it’s still early at this point.”
Patience. Rocky Fielding, 27-1 (15), was the antithesis to patience last month in Offenburg, when setting about Zeuge from the get-go, but he’ll need plenty of it now he’s a champion with options on the table and a target on his back.
They say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Yet Oscar Valdez, undefeated in 24 professional fights, today announced he is switching trainers, replacing Manny Robles with Eddy Reynoso, a man best-known for his work with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Rest assured, nothing’s broken. Valdez’s 24-0 (19) record suggests that. But the reigning WBO featherweight champion is coming off consecutive slugfests, both of which left damage and put miles on the clock, and has now seemingly decided the time is right to spruce things up.
Currently recovering from a fractured jaw, and eyeing a ring return in early 2019, Valdez, 27, said: “I want to thank Manny Robles and his whole team for everything they have done for me over the last few years. But, like everything in life, changes are sometimes needed to move forward.
“As a boxer you have to able to develop as much as you can and I believe that this change to Eddy Reynoso will help me become an even better all-around boxer and fighter. I want to be one of the best fighters in the world and leave the best legacy I can in boxing. And I will always work hard to achieve the greatness I seek.”