Thursday, 29 May 2014

Super Middleweight Fight Of The Weekend (Preview)...

IBF Super-Middleweight Eliminator.

James DeGale Vs Brandon Gonzales

Whilst all the talk over the last few months and especially the last week has been about the Froch Vs Groves fight, there is another super middleweight fight this weekend at Wembley which is possibly just as important for the fighters involved.

DeGale Vs Gonzales is an IBF eliminator for the right to fight the winner of Froch Vs Groves and is a very intriguing fight indeed.

James DeGale is the former Groves victim who has had an up and down pro career since winning Gold at middleweight at the Bejing Olympics. His career record stands at 18 wins (12 by KO) with 1 loss (against Groves in 2011). Since his defeat to Groves he has gone about his business quietly and effectively, without any of the brash arrogance that he had displayed previously and is now rightly in amongst the best super middleweights in the world (ranked 8 by BoxRec). Saturday night could be a defining night for him and may well lead to a chance of avenging his defeat to Groves.

DeGale's opponent is Brandon Gonzales.The very self confident American is trained by Virgil Hunter who is also the trainer of possibly the best super middleweight in the world - Andre Ward. His record is very similiar to DeGales with 18 wins (10 by KO) and 1 draw and he is ranked 13 in the world by BoxRec.

With most of the world seemingly (according to Sky) interested in the headline fight it is easy to have missed the needle that has been shown by both DeGale and Gonzales camps to each other. 

James DeGale told Sky Sports -
"He [Gonzales] is very good fighter unbeaten and he's confident. He really thinks he's going to win, but the telling factor in this fight is going to be the distance, the rounds, This guy has never had a scheduled 12-rounder. He's never been 12 rounds and in fights - I've watched his last couple of fights - he dies. A good five rounds he has and he dies. I've had about nine scheduled 12-rounders. I've been 12 rounds five times, that's in you. You don't get fit for 12 rounds over a 10-week camp. It takes years. That's what is going to be the telling factor in this fight."

Virgil Hunter responded to that with  - “You went 12 rounds with guys that extended you 12 rounds. These are B league guys that are extending you 12 rounds, Should they have been around after 12 rounds? Considering your pedigree, considering how much you think of yourself?”

An astute response from Hunter. Is DeGale as good as he thinks he is? Can he really challenge at the very, very top level?

Eddie Hearn thinks there is a huge amount of pressure on DeGale -
“There’s a lot of pressure on him [DeGale], because he has to perform well, that’s a difficult ask because really it should be about winning, but when you’re at this level and at this kind of platform, you want to do it in style and make a statement. And that’s what I think he’s preparing himself to do. James DeGale is a real fight for Froch, so there’s no reason why we couldn’t take that fight. Froch Vs DeGale will be another huge fight in British boxing.”

DeGale can't see anything other than a win and is already looking to the future, perhaps a big mistake -  “I’m in the mandatory position to fight the winner [Froch Vs Groves]. It’s not about if they have to fight me; they’ve got to fight me, so I’m in a fantastic position. So whoever wins, they’ll have to fight me within 120 days.”

On Saturday night the time for all the talking will be over and we will see which of these two very good fighters is ready to step up the very elite level of the 168lbs division.

Is DeGale as good as he thinks? Possibly not. I think he believes he would beat Andre Ward if he was fighting him on Saturday, which he might one day, however not yet. Is he ready to challenge at the very, very top level? One day certainly. The fight against Gonzales will give a big indication - to both fighters - of the current level and what the future may possibly hold.

This is certainly going to be a very good technical fight, perhaps even better than the headline fight. A second loss on DeGale's record could be the beginning of the end. A first loss for Gonzales in his first "big" fight will certainly change his future path, if indeed there will be one. 
As always the difference between an also ran and a challenger is a very fine line - on Saturday one of these two will cross that line.

I wish them both well...

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Check Hook Boxing Speaks to Joel Brunker.

Check Hook Boxing
Speaks to Joel Brunker.

A Q&A with Joel Brunker by Check Hook Boxing forum members.

Australian 27-0 undefeated featherweight contender 'Aussie' Joel Brunker recently took time out for a Q&A with members of the Check Hook Boxing Forum.

Joel has been steadily climbing up the rankings in all sanctioning organisations. Brunker is rated No. 4 WBO, No. 6 IBF, No. 13 WBA, and No. 15 WBC respectively. Joel made his US debut in 2012 and 2014 could be a big year with Joel readying himself for a future world title shot.
Thanks for taking the time to do this for us Joel:-

Gary Russell jr and Vasyl Lomachenko are fighting for the vacant WBO FW title.
Will you and Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo be fighting for a title shot at the winner?

My team are currently working on my next fight as we speak. I can't reveal too much as nothing is confirmed but we are pushing for a title eliminator and there are a few names in the mix as possibly opponents.

Joel you went to the Olympics in 2004, and the guy who eliminated you went on to win a medal.
I'd like to know what it was like for you going off to Greece to represent your country, and whether the coaching system for the Aussie boxing team provided the fighters with the support they required when training and competing in their events? 

The Olympics were probably the highlight of my career so far. I had only been boxing for three years when I went so I was still pretty green. I did my training with the AIS and they were a great support for the fighters that went over.

Who is your major sponsor Joel. 

Clifford flooring, Killa boxing, Ubox and Vitamin King

I saw you lose a couple of decisions to Paul Fleming as an amateur. One at Fleming’s own gym tournament in Queensland that you should have got the decision. Would you be interested in fighting Paul Fleming as a pro, and how do you think you could beat him?

Paul and I have fought five times in the amateurs, we both won some and lost some but that was long time ago. I think Paul and I are going in different directions in our careers. Plus he is a super featherweight now and I make featherweight comfortably. Anything in the future is a possibility but it is not likely at the moment

I understand you and Billy Dib have sparred on numerous occasions.
A few of us, myself included would like to see you fight Billy (and give him a caning).
How likely is this?

A fight with Billy was something I have always wanted for the Australian public. It has been talked about but that is as far as it has gotten so far. It might be something that could happen in the future but right now I am focused on putting myself in a position to fight for a world title.

You are undefeated after 27 fights. A great platform to work off. Who do you rate your toughest opponent so far?

That is hard to say. The slipperiest and hardest to hit would be Mike Oliver. The best technical boxer would be Ivan Hernandez. Biggest war was Riovalle. Hardest hitter would be Adonis Aguelo

What are your plans for the rest of 2014?
Do your plans involve fighting in the U.S or would you prefer to fight a local opponent in a big local show?
My plans are to take on any fight I need to so I get myself a number 1 spot to fight for a title. I will be fighting in America, it is where the big fights and exposure is. I will hopefully have my next fight organised soon.

What was it like fighting and beating Mike Oliver last up in the States on the Daniel Geale vs Darren Barker card?
Also. Did you get to see the main event? If so what were your thoughts on Geale's loss mate??

It was great! I was not happy with how I fought in that fight but I was happy to be on a big card in America. I was disappointed for Geale, I thought he won that fight.

What is the best advice you could give to young blokes in the amateurs?

Train hard! Be the first in the gym and last to leave. Whenever you feel like you are training your hardest always try and give that little bit extra.

What do you think of Lee Selby? Selby's promoter Eddie Hearn has mentioned you as a possible opponent many times, has the fight been offered?

I have sparred Selby before he is a good fighter. No fight has ever been offered to me but it is a fight that could happen down the track.

Is there a particular world title you have your eye on at the moment? WBA? WBC? IBF? WBO?
Or is it just a matter of where the opportunity might arise for you?

Whoever gives me the shot at a belt I will go for

You've had 2 fights in the US, the first was a devastating 1st round KO, and the second was a solid UD against Mike Oliver.
How has the feedback been from the US considering the good results you've had?

I have been welcomed by the US fan base. I think they really enjoy my come forward fighting style.

The Mexican Edgar Riovalle must have been a wild man? Head clashes and all.

He was a tough one but all Mexicans are. I felt in control of that fight but after the head clash I couldn't see his left hooks coming, too much blood in my eye.

Who did you look up or aspire to be like as a fighter growing up?

Definitely Sugar Ray Leonard

Who are some of the guys you have sparred with and thoughts on their abilities?

Too many to name. One of the toughest and under rated fighters I have sparred would be Ranee Ganoy......... so much power, he is a real monster of a fighter

Who is your favourite active fighter?

Miguel Cotto

Who is your favourite retired fighter?

Sugar Ray Leonard

Joel even recently you've fought a lot of your bouts out of your hometown, Richmond NSW. Is this important to you to keep staging fights there?

I love to fight in Richmond in front of friends and family but I need to take fights in the US, that is where you make a name for yourself.

In your US pro debut in 2012 you cut Carlos Fungenicio in half in the first round with a vicious body shot KO. How was that whole experience? Walk us through the fight?

In that fight with Carlos I hadn’t even settled in yet. I didn’t go into the fight with the intention to go for a fast KO it just happened that way. I wanted to show the fans more of what I had but you can’t argue with a first round KO. I trained in America for 8 weeks for a 100 second fight. I guess it goes to show that if you train hard you fight easy

If you weren't a fighter, what would you be doing?

I would definitely be a runner. I do heaps of it in my training and I have developed a real love for it

Who would you prefer to fight out of Orlando Salido and Evgeny Gradovich?

Either really. Salido because he is a veteran and he would be an amazing test but Gradovich because he is the new kid on the block and is a tough fighter. I guess that doesn’t answer your question but since Salido has gone up weight I will say Gradovich

You have only had 2 fights outside of Australia both in America. Do you have any plans to fight in the UK or Europe and increase your profile slightly more?

If the right fight is offered in the UK I will be on the next plane there. I know a lot of people want me to fight Selby and when the time is right it may happen. I think at the moment we are both just chasing title shots.

What's your walk around weight is and do you think you will stay at 126?

It depends, if I am not training for a fight I can be walking around at 145. I make 126 really comfortably so I think I will stay at this weight for now.

Your last fight was 9 months ago.
I'm guessing this is a longer break than you'd like, are you having difficulty finding suitable opponents, or something else?

I think I heard you were planning to be on the Daniel Geale/Garth Wood undercard, did a fight fall through or am I having a lend of myself?

It has been a long break for me but I think my body needed it. Since I turned pro late in 2008 I have had 27 fights, that is more than 5 a year on average. I was looking at a world title fight when Geale v Wood was happening but it didn’t end up happening. My team are very close to booking me in my next fight and it should be a big one if all goes to plan so stay tuned.

That's fantastic Joel. I think you're answered all our questions. It would be great to get you in again to do a Q&A down the track but once again, thanks for your time.
Feel free to drop by any time to drop some facts or an opinion.

No worries at all, thanks for having me.

Check Hook Boxing would like to thank Joel for his time in answering all the questions asked of him. We wish him well for the future…