Historic world champion DeGale on path to sporting greatness
On May 2011, in front of a sell-out O2 Arena in London, James DeGale endured his first and only defeat to George Groves after 12 rounds; a set-back which looked like derailing the Olympic Gold medallist’s promising fighting career.
Four years later, though, ‘Chunky’ DeGale recovered through sheer grit and commitment to make boxing history in Boston, overcoming fellow successful Olympian and Briton Andre Dirrell in a close contest, becoming the first ever British gold medallist to also claim a world title.
Typically, DeGale isn’t finished there, having already set his sights on defending his historic IBF Super Middleweight crown later this year, with several high-profile bouts being tipped to occur, including a mouth-watering rematch with the 29-year-old’s only career conqueror and long-standing nemesis Groves.
“I’ll fight anyone from Ward to Golovkin. I’ve achieved my lifetime dream by winning a world title and since I’ve lost the 0 on my record it wouldn’t bother me if I lose a fight. I’m happy,” declared the Londoner.
“I’d love to fight at Wembley again and this time headline the show instead of being chief support. That would be a dream.
“I’m looking forward to my homecoming fight. I want a big stadium in London. Who would I like next? Anyone. Dirrell was one hell of a fighter and I hope people appreciate that.
“If Froch thinks he is that good then why doesn’t he fight me? I would be the perfect fight for him to come back. If I was Froch, I’d stay well away from me.
“I’m looking at Froch and he had his chance, he gave up his belt for me to fight for it. I want the big fights, the bigger the better. Mikkel Kessler, George Groves, Golovkin. They can come to me.”
Newly crowned IBF world champion DeGale was faster, stronger and more determined than ever before in his match-up with Dirrell, downing his opposition twice in the second round, before eventually narrowly securing a points victory, with two judges scoring it 114-112.
Although, Canadian judge Alan Davis bizarrely gave a 117-109 in favour of the eventual winner despite such a razor fine contest, with DeGale having worryingly thought he would be succumb to a shocking second career defeat before his historic victory was finally announced.
“I was a little bit worried. I was looking at Jim and he had the same face that he did after I boxed Groves and I thought ‘not again’, but when they announced it, it was the best feeling in the world,” added the 2008 Beijing Olympic champion.
The Hammersmith-born southpaw is obsessed with leaving his mark on the sport, and this latest triumph has undoubtedly inscribed his name in the boxing history books, but now the world title holder will look to capitalise on his maximum potential and remain hungry for further success.
DeGale’s last opponent was certainly no pushover, with the scorecards clearly highlighting the fact, and the Londoner; having rallied past a fighter of similar stature and skills, will now turn attentions towards a showdown with any of the top super-middleweight, with Carl Froch, Groves and Andre Ward in his sights.
The future of this recently-crowned world champion and Olympic gold medallist is promising, with his astute abilities in the ring set to catapult the man known as ‘Chunky’ to a prolifically prolonged career at the top of British and global boxing.
“The future is bright, the future is Chunky,” exulted DeGale.
In other bouts, DeGale’s fellow Briton Amir Khan will be aiming to rediscover his own clinical credentials in the ring when faces Chris Algieri in the early hours of Sunday morning (odds-on 1/14 with Coral to triumph) while Sheffield’s Kell Brook faces Frankie Gavin on Saturday night (15/8 to win on points).