IBF Super Middleweight Champion James DeGale has vacated his title one day before a scheduled purse bid opposite interim champ Jose Uzcategui. As he puts it, he wants to pursue “massive fights” after nine years in the ring.
“No world champion easily gives up their title. I’ve proudly held the IBF title in two reigns with pride and distinction which is why it makes it very hard decision to relinquish the belt.
”I’m in the final phase of my career where I have a few good years left where I can be involved in massive fights and really leave a legacy in the division’s history.”
I wouldn’t call winning a title and vacating it without a defense three months later a “reign,” personally. It’s like saying William Henry Harrison had a Presidential term.
This move gives some hope to Frank Warren’s plan to pit DeGale (24-2-1, 14 KO) against Billy Joe Saunders on September 15th. There’s also a potentially lucrative matchup against the winner of Callum Smith vs. George Groves to consider.
Uzcategui (27-2, 23 KO) will presumably be promoted to full champion. There’s no #1 contender at the moment; #2 Caleb Plant was supposed to fight Rocky Fielding for the slot, but Fielding elected to face WBA champ Tyron Zeuge instead. Vincent Feigenbutz is #3, for the record, but I don’t think anyone wants to see Uzcategui knock the German’s head clean off and then lose a split decision.
There’s a joke to be made about the belt declaring independence from Britain, but I drank rather a lot last night, so I trust you all to take the framework I’ve created and make something funny out of it.