Is Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable the finest Britain has to offer right now? Of course it is.
Boasting names such as Carl Froch under his promotional banner and a collection of Britain’s brightest young hopefuls, he remains virtually unrivalled on these shores. Therefore it comes as no surprise that London super middleweight James DeGale has become the latest boxer to cross the promotional borderline, emigrating from Mick Hennessey’s team at Hennessy Sports.
DeGale is what Hearn described as a ‘buzz’ fighter, someone who needs big fights and occasions to bring out the best in his skill set. A promised spot on the Froch vs Groves rematch in front of 80,000 at England’s national stadium should certainly fulfil that desire.
Victory over Brandon Gonzales in an IBF final eliminator on May 31 sets up another huge domestic grudge clash with whoever wins the main event. The sole blemish on his record came via George Groves in a closely contested bout back in 2011 and their rivalry is personal, so a rematch with him could even produce another arena contest in late summer.
While it seems nothing but positive to go from fighting in a Kent shopping centre to Wembley Stadium, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Take Ricky Burns for example. The Scot, formerly tutored by Frank Warren, has fought three times under Matchroom since moving. After showing great heart and mettle to dig deep and break the spirit of unheralded Jose Gonzalez, Burns escaped with a draw against Raymundo Beltran before being outclassed by Nebraska’s Terence Crawford. Now title-less, Burns also split from long-term trainer Billy Nelson last week to compound recent woes.
In this case, Warren has a right to feel aggrieved. A unification clash with Miquel Vasquez had been arranged before the unreliable Mexican dropped out through injury, while he presided over wins against Kevin Mitchell and Michael Katsidis.
Jamie McDonnell has also slipped off the radar in recent times. After controversially being stripped of his IBF bantamweight crown six months after victory over Julio Ceja in Doncaster, he defected from Dennis Hobson Promotions to the Matchroom stable. Stuart Hall, a former opponent of McDonnell and current Hobson fighter, now holds that belt while McDonnell is scratching around on the early stages of Matchroom undercards.
For every move that provides longevity in a career (Froch himself moved from Hennessy Sports in 2011), another can stall quite considerably. While it provides DeGale a chance to finally get some career momentum and become the first British Olympic gold medallist to win a world title, he must remain aware success is far from a guarantee.
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