Degale determined to realise world title dream after switching promoters

By Martin Domin


Forgotten man James Degale is desperate to put a miserable year behind him and establish himself as one of the best super-middleweights in the world.

The 26-year-old Londoner has endured a frustrating spell on the sidelines since defending his European title against Italian Cristian Sanavia in April.

But having parted company with Frank Warren to join forces with Mick Hennessy, Degale is confident he can get his career back on track.

Cruise control: James Degale beat Cristian Sanavia in Denmark in April

Cruise control: James Degale beat Cristian Sanavia in Denmark in April

‘I’ve made my break from Frank Warren and I’m looking forward to the future.’ he told Sportsmail. ‘I spoke to some promoters in England and a couple from overseas before I chose Mick Hennessy.

‘I think I’ve made the right choice; he’s on terrestrial television and he’s been there and done it. He took Carl Froch to his world title so he knows the super-middleweight division inside out.’

Degale returns to action when he defends his belt for the second time at Bluewater in Kent on October 13.

‘I can’t wait to get back in the ring,’ he added. ‘I’ve been so inactive; to have had one fight this year is crazy. I need to be boxing four or five times a year. 

‘I’ve been promised fights and shows have been cancelled. There has been a lot of rubbish in the background that people don’t see.

‘To be honest, I can’t say too much because I end up getting in trouble so I’m going to keep quiet. One day I’ll be able to tell the whole story.’

Degale, who expects to fight twice before the end of the year, continues to work with Jim McDonnell at his private gym in Lougthon, Essex.

And he is confident the change of promoters will return him to the public eye.

Olympic champ: Degale with the torch

Olympic champ: Degale with the torch

‘No disrespect to Box Nation, but because I won the European title on that channel, I’m not sure many people saw it; people think my last fight was against George Groves but I’ve had two since then,’ he said. ‘Now that I’m going to be on terrestrial television, hopefully it will boost my profile.’

Degale shot to fame after winning Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008 and made his professional debut the following year.

He won ten fights in succession before losing a contentious majority defeat to bitter rival Groves in May 2011.

But he bounced back immediately to edge the decision against Piotr Wilczewski to win the European strap.

And despite his lengthy lay-off, Degale insists he can reach world level sooner rather than later.

‘I’m very, very confident,’ he said. ‘I’ve been a professional for four years, that’s all. It feels like I’ve been around forever because I’ve been fast-tracked. I’ve been British champion and European champion and there was talk of me boxing for a world title. 

‘My plan was to box for a world title this year but that hasn’t happened so it’s knocked my plans back by six to12 months,’

In joining Hennessy, who also looks after heavyweight Tyson Fury, Degale will be in the same stable as Chris Eubank Jnr with whom he had a spat earlier this month.

Eubank Jnr claimed he ‘schooled’ Degale during a sparring session but the elder fighter was keen to set the story straight.

‘It’s all a publicity stunt,’ he insisted. ‘Over a year ago he sent me a Facebook message saying he’s not my friend and that in a couple of years he’d be my rival. 

‘He said I should carry on being brash and that our fight would be massive; he kept going on and on. 

‘A year later he turned professional and he’s come down to spar me and I’m doing him a favour. I’m moving him about [in sparring] but he says he schooled James Degale.

Rivalries brewing: Chris Eubank Jnr (above) and George Groves (below)

Rivalries brewing: Chris Eubank Jnr (above) and George Groves (below)

George Groves lands a punch on James DeGale

‘It’s all a publicity stunt. Professionals don’t do that; he lives on a different planet. He’s a five-fight novice and he’s fighting on my undercard.’

Degale’s rivalry with Groves meanwhile has festered since the pair were amateurs. Groves beat his gym-mate in 2005, a result Degale continues to question, but it was the loser who went on to receive greater acclaim, culminating in his Olympic triumph. A third fight appears inevitable.

‘If the British public demand it and we’re in a position where we have to fight, it will happen,’ Degale confirmed. ‘Imagine me and George Groves on Channel 5; that would be massive.

‘To be honest, he has to be a bit more active. He’s given up his British title and I don’t know where his career is going.’

As far as Degale is concerned, his own career is finally heading in the right direction.

‘It’s exciting times,’ he concluded. ‘This is a fresh start and by next year I’ll be on the verge of boxing for a world title.’



The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Nobodys really interested in Degale, he must have turned the whole of the uk against him during the build up to his fight with Groves and boy did he have to eat his words, and he still couldn't take that defeat like a man, you have to earn respect James. Keep your trap shut, show respect to your opponent and let your fists do the talking and people may start tuning in.

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