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Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Thursday, 14 October 2010 12:56 UK

James DeGale to face Paul Smith in December title fight

James DeGale (right) in action against Carl Dilks
DeGale (right) was impressive in a first-round stoppage of Carl Dilks last month

James DeGale will fight champion Paul Smith for the British super-middleweight title on 11 December.

Since turning professional in February 2009, Olympic gold medallist DeGale, 24, has secured eight wins and stopped all but two of his opponents.

Liverpudlian Smith, 27, has won 29 of 30 fights and took the British title from Tony Quigley in October last year.

The fight forms part of the bill to celebrate the 30th anniversary of promoter Frank Warren's role in boxing.

The Liverpool Echo Arena will host the event, which will also feature Welshman Nathan Cleverly - the current British and European light-heavyweight champion - challenging Alejandro Lakatos for the vacant WBO interim light-heavyweight crown.

The fight with Smith marks a significant step up in class for DeGale, who last month recorded an impressive first-round stoppage victory over Carl Dilks.

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But Londoner DeGale has improved markedly since turning professional, six months after winning middleweight boxing gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"It's a big step up in class because Paul Smith is the best super-middleweight in Britain," he said.

"Of course it's a risky fight at this stage in my career but I have confidence in myself and my ability. I think I can win."

Also on the bill is Birmingham's Matthew Macklin, who will be defending his European middleweight crown against former world title challenger Ruben Varon of Spain.

If Dereck Chisora wins he becomes a national hero by getting rid of Wladimir Klitschko

Frank Warren

British welterweight champion Kell Brook will defend his fringe WBO inter-continental belt before hopefully fighting for the full title next February.

Warren confirmed a verbal agreement was in place for the Sheffield switch-hitter to meet American Mike Jones for the vacant belt next February, although Jones first has to beat Jesus Soto Karass next month, on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao v Antonio Margarito in Dallas.

It was also confirmed that Liverpool's Tony Bellew will defend his Commonwealth light-heavyweight title, although Cleverly poured cold water on the prospect of a domestic match-up happening any time soon.

In a bad-tempered exchange, Cleverly said it was "impossible" for Bellew to beat him, before adding he would "destroy" Bellew if they ever met.

Frankie Gavin will have his ninth pro fight, a challenge for the lightly-regarded WBO inter-continental light-welterweight against Dean Harrison.

And fellow 2008 Olympian Billy Joe Saunders has recovered from a hand injury and will also appear on the bill.

Dereck Chisora's bout against IBF and WBO heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitshcko will be shown on a big screen in the 11,000-capacity arena.

The task facing Chisora in Mannheim, Germany, is even greater than DeGale's appointment with Smith as Klitschko, who has 55 wins from 58 fights, has been the outstanding performer in the division for much of the past decade.

Warren, however, believes the 26-year-old Londoner can only benefit from such a steep learning curve in what will be only his 15th fight.

"It's a tough, tough fight for Dereck because Klitschko is the best heavyweight in the world," said Warren.

"He's the most dominant in the division and has been since Lennox Lewis, but if desire, heart and guts win fights then Dereck can win.

"As far as the bookmakers go there are upsets, otherwise the word wouldn't be in dictionary.

"Derek has the confidence to go out there and do it. He has got great sparring and nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

"Of course I'd rather he'd had a few more fights first and maybe it's come a bit too soon, but he's been driving me around the bend asking 'do you believe I can win?'

"It's a hard fight but I believe he can do it. Win, lose or draw he'll get great experience from this and it could bring something out of him. If he wins he becomes a national hero by getting rid of Wladimir Klitschko."



see also
Cleverly world title shot delayed
14 Oct 10 |  Boxing
Impressive Cleverly defeats Murat
18 Sep 10 |  Boxing
DeGale relishing 12-round debut
23 Mar 10 |  Boxing
DeGale hungry for domestic honour
02 Oct 09 |  Boxing
From cheers to jeers for DeGale
01 Mar 09 |  Boxing
Coach expects DeGale world title
12 Jan 09 |  Boxing
Olympic champion DeGale turns pro
02 Dec 08 |  Boxing
Superb DeGale lands boxing gold
23 Aug 08 |  Boxing


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