JAMES DEGALE is entering a new phase of his career. He’s had a significant operation to repair his right shoulder and will now defend his IBF super-middleweight championship on December 9 at the Copperbox in London.
The injury meant a potential clash with Callum Smith could not take place earlier this year. “I was going to fight Smith. I thought just let me get through this, that’s the kind of mentality I have but I’m so glad I didn’t because it wouldn’t have got better. When they went in I had a tear around my shoulder, 180 degree tear around it. My AC joint needed stabilising and I had a tear in my rotor cuff. My shoulder was f*****. For a year and half I was boxing, sparring, one armed. I’m a right handed southpaw. Everything comes off my front hand. I couldn’t double jab, no way. I throw a little jab. I couldn’t hook off my jab. I like jabbing, hook off my front hand. I couldn’t do none of that,” DeGale told Boxing News.
This homecoming is significant for DeGale. He has left Eddie Hearn, his promoter in recent years, to reunite with Frank Warren, the man who guided his early professional career, before they went their separate ways.
James reflected, “It wasn’t difficult. The parting was bitter but it wasn’t difficult because you live and you learn. You forgive – you don’t forget but you do forgive. I’ve always liked Frank because Frank’s old school, he reminds me of my grandad. Frank is old school. He was the first person to show people how it’s done.”
It’s a one-off deal for this fight but the relationship could continue. “If I’m happy, Frank’s happy, BT are happy, I see no reason why we can’t move forward and keep working together,” James said.
December 9 will be DeGale’s first world title fight in his London hometown. The return means a lot to him and he thinks he will be well received. “Before I won my world title, I got a lot of haters, I got criticised a lot. I think people saw that I worked hard, I boxed very well against a solid opponent and they started to give me the kudos and the respect,” he said.
Victory will set him up for a major 2018. DeGale wants to unify world titles, then take on the winner of the World Boxing Super Series. He’d like to tackle WBC super-middleweight champion David Benavidez early next year. “That’s an easy fight to be made,” DeGale said. “April, May, against Benavidez, that’s what I’m hoping.”
“Frank’s talking about stadiums and that, or there’s the possibility I go back to America as well,” he continued. “We want a big name, a big unification fight and I want the winner of the Super Series. I’m in a win-win, if it’s [George] Groves, [Chris] Eubank or Smith.”
DeGale would relish a clash with Chris Eubank Jr. “I want Eubank, because he runs his mouth, he thinks he’s too good. He ain’t really beat no one, he’s getting carried away with beating that punchbag,” James said. “The guy’s a doughnut. Him and his dad are idiots. They’ve pulled out of two fights, two box office fights he pulled out of.
“It’s just really sad, they’re idiots. Until he starts beating people…”
DeGale has a long standing rivalry with George Groves, who defeated him in the amateurs and also as professionals in a 2011 British title fight. “There’s always that fight out there, the issue’s always there. And Smith,” DeGale grinned.
“Trust me there are some big fights out there.”