MMA

Foes lined up for DeGale, Selby on Dec. 9 card

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Super middleweight world titleholder James DeGale and featherweight titlist Lee Selby now have opponents for their doubleheader on Dec. 9 at the Copper Box Arena in London, and neither appears as though he will be facing much of a threat.

DeGale will defend his 168-pound belt against former middleweight title challenger Caleb Truax and Selby will defend his 126-pound strap against Eduardo Ramirez, promoter Frank Warren announced Tuesday.

DeGale, who will be fighting in his hometown, and Selby, of Wales, will each be making their fourth title defenses.

DeGale, a 31-year-old southpaw who won a 2008 Olympic gold medal for Great Britain, hasn’t fought since a Jan. 14 slugfest with Badou Jack in a unification bout in New York that was ruled a majority draw. DeGale (23-1-1, 14 KOs), who got knocked down in the 12th round, suffered a various injuries in the bout, including a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder that needed surgery in June, the main reason he has been out of action for most of the year.

“Truax is a good, solid fighter with a top pedigree,” DeGale said in a news release. “He’s been in with some quality opponents like Daniel Jacobs, Jermain Taylor and Anthony Dirrell. He’ll be fighting away from home, so he’s going to bring it on and try to take my world title, but I’m the best super middleweight in the world and I’m going into the ring full of confidence and 100 percent fit.

“I’ve not boxed in London for a few years so I can’t wait to make my return to the ring and soak up the atmosphere from the crowd and put on great show.”

Truax (28-3-2, 18 KOs), 34, of Osseo, Minnesota, has faced good opponents, but he has lost when stepping up in class. He dropped a 10-round decision to Taylor, a badly faded, former undisputed middleweight world champion, in 2012. In 2015, Truax challenged secondary middleweight titlist Jacobs and got knocked out in the 12th round. In April 206, former super middleweight titlist Dirrell knocked him out in the first round. Truax has won two low-level fights in a row since.

Selby (25-1, 9 KOs), 30, is coming off a lopsided decision win against mandatory challenger Jonathan Victor Barros on July 15 and hopes for bigger business down the road. But first up is Ramirez (20-0-3, 7 KOs), an unknown, untested fighter from Mexico.

Ramirez, 24, is coming off a 10-round split draw with Leduan Barthelemy on Sept. 26 in Las Vegas.

“Ramirez is a very good unbeaten fighter and he comes from a good stable,” Selby said in the news release. “He’s trained by [former world titleholder] Fernando Montiel’s brother. Fernando was a former challenger of mine and his brother is a very experienced coach.

“[Barthelemy] has a decent ranking with the IBF and you don’t get there by accident. He’s worked his way into the mix and he’s going to give me a tough test. He’s a southpaw, which is another challenge for myself.”

With a victory, Selby is hoping to set himself up for a fight with current mandatory challenger and rival Josh Warrington of England, or one against former titleholder Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland. Both would be major fights in the United Kingdom.

“There’s a lot of pressure on this fight,” Selby said. “One loss will mess up my whole career. There’s massive fights to be made against Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton next year, so it’s vital that I come through this fight.”

Warren also announced opponents for light heavyweight up-and-comer Anthony Yarde (13-0, 12 KOs), 26, of England, and 20-year-old British heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois (5-0, 5 KOs).

Yarde will face former super middleweight world title challenger Nikola Sjekloca (32-4-1, 11 KOs), 39, of Montenegro, and Dubois will take on former Anthony Joshua opponent Dorian Darch (12-5-1, 1 KO), 33, of Wales.

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