May 18 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
James DeGale and George Groves are booked for one of London’s big fights of the year at the O2 Arena on Saturday night with the massive crowd plus millions of TV viewers watching around the world.
But their previous meeting in 2006, before a few hundred fans at a small north London hall, is remembered by the man who had the best view of all –Newham referee Jumbo Basi, currently president of the local NE London ABA.
Saturday’s clash is being built up as one of boxing’s big ‘needle’ duels with a rivalry to match the historic Nigel Benn v Chris Eubank matches back in the 1990’s – and the official recalls there was no love lost in their amateur clash.
“Although the pair were from the same amateur club, Dale Youth, they were bitter rivals even in those days and their contest was a very close, hard fought match,” recalled Basi.
Olympic Gold medallist DeGale is a strong favourite to win on Saturday and avenge the points defeat he suffered against Groves, which the loser still insists was a poor decision.
But Fairbairn club stalwart Basi, a former boxer and now one of boxing’s most respected referees, says it was a very close contest – and DeGale can blame himself for the defeat.
“There was so little between the pair at the finish and DeGale made a mistake in the last round when he stopped throwing punches, apparently confident he was well in front. That may well have cost him the victory.”
However, the official predicts that if the pair repeat the rivalry of their previous meeting, Saturday’s encounter will not disappoint that massive world-wide audience.