JAMES DEGALE is plotting a glorious return to the UK. The Olympic gold medallist and reigning IBF super-middleweight champion has been plying his trade overseas, winning the title from Andre Dirrell in Boston and defending against Lucian Bute in Quebec and Porky Medina in Washington. He wants a major homecoming fight but first he must unify world titles against WBC champion Badou Jack in New York on January 14.
“It takes the pressure off you a little bit. Listen, I’m living the American dream. I went to America. Boxing is fantastic in the States. I got a fantastic opportunity from Al Haymon. But this one is the big one. New York, Barclays Center, unifying the division. You can’t beat it,” he said.
“Touch wood, everything goes to plan, I beat Badou Jack, then I’m going home in May and I’m having a big fight at home. Everyone’s calling for the champ to come home. That’s next in line.”
There are major fights for him in the UK. His mandatory challenger would be British and European champion Callum Smith. (In the past DeGale beat Callum’s older brother Paul to win the British title Callum now holds.) A rematch with great rival George Groves, the only man to beat DeGale as a professional, would be very appealing too.
But he will have a tough job against Jack. DeGale boxes with flair, but he is inconsistent. He has switched off during contests in the past, leaning back on the ropes or, for instance, letting Dirrell back into the fight after DeGale started so well. Jack might not be as flashy but he is, crucially, consistent, dogged and works throughout a 12 round contest.
“He’s a basic fighter, really, but he’s good at everything he does,” the Briton said. “He ain’t got no special effects, nothing fancy. Everything’s just straightforward but very, very good. And in the ring I can imagine it to be very hard when you’re standing in front of him, because he’s very technical and he’s got a good jab. He works the body well, got a good defence.”