British super middleweight contender James DeGale and Brandon Gonzales of Sacramento, Calif., will meet in a world title elimination bout on May 31 at Wembley Stadium in London, their promoters announced Thursday.
The fight will be on the undercard of the rematch between super middleweight titlist Carl Froch (32-2, 23 KOs) and George Groves (19-1, 15 KOs). The winner of DeGale-Gonzales will be a mandatory challenger for the winner of the main event.
"I'm back and I'm back big," DeGale said. "The last year or so has been frustrating but that's all in the past and the future is looking extremely bright. The fights out there for me are crazy. But I can't look past Brandon. He trains with Andre Ward and Amir Khan so he's got great training and he's a good fighter. He can do a lot of things well so I cannot overlook him.
"I need these massive fights to motivate me to perform at my best and I feel energized and I cannot wait until May 31 to show the best James DeGale. I'm not fussed who wins out of Carl and George. I think Carl is an easier fight as he is made for me, but with George and I it is personal -- I get angry talking about him. I'm ready for whoever is there but I'm concentrating on Brandon Gonzales."
Said Gonzales, "DeGale is a very good fighter with a lot of heart. His only loss is a controversial majority decision defeat to George Groves. Most people thought he won that fight, so in my eyes he's going to be coming at me like an undefeated fighter looking to redeem himself. I'm ready for the challenge. DeGale stands in my way of becoming a world champion and I must take him out. One thing I know is I'm coming to win and show the world that Brandon Gonzales is the real deal."
In conjunction with announcing the bout, Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn also announced that he has signed DeGale to a promotional contract, which comes a few days after DeGale, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, terminated his promotional deal with Hennessy Sports.
"We're delighted to welcome James to the Matchroom Boxing team," said Hearn. "There was a huge amount of interest from a number of promoters to add him to their roster, so I am delighted to win that race. The timing of the fight against Brandon Gonzales couldn't be better with the winner set to face the winner of Froch versus Groves II. The 168 pound division is buzzing and this just adds a new dimension to the potential of mega-fights for British boxing."
DeGale (18-1, 12 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw, has won eight fights in a row since a majority decision loss to Groves in their heavily hyped 2011 showdown for the British and Commonwealth titles.
Gonzales (18-0-1, 10 KOs), 29, who will be fighting outside the United States for the first time, fought to a draw in his most significant fight, a 10-rounder against South Africa's Thomas Oosthuizen last June. Gonzales rebounded for a lopsided decision win against Jonathan Nelson in November.
"I've been working hard my whole life to get in this position," Gonzales said. "I never had anything come easy to me in this boxing game. I had to work my way up the rankings the hard way with little support. Now that I have Gary Shaw and Antonio Leonard promoting me, I feel I have all the necessary pieces to become a star. [Manager] James Prince and I had a vision and now it's coming to fruition."
Said Shaw, "I told Brandon when we [recently] signed him to be ready to go because I really want to get him a title shot. Now he's in position to really do something special in his career. A win against DeGale will get him the world title shot he's worked so hard to achieve. He must come out victorious to make his dream come true and I believe he has the talent to be something special in the division."
While the fight is set, promoter Mick Hennessy was upset that DeGale terminated their agreement and said he planned to take legal action.
"We are extremely surprised and disappointed that DeGale has terminated his long-term contract with us," he said. "The agreement had several years to run and we had put him into an excellent position on the world super middleweight stage.
"Unfortunately, the company has been given no alternative but to put the matter into the hands of its lawyers and we are currently considering our legal options against DeGale. We are also extremely concerned about the possible involvement of any other parties in DeGale's decision to terminate our contract and, if necessary, we will take the appropriate legal action against any other promoter, broadcaster or sanctioning body that is found to have been involved in this decision."