In one of the biggest upsets of 2017, southpaw DeGale lost his IBF super-middleweight title to unheralded American Caleb Truax via majority decision in December. The defeat followed on from a bruising draw with Badou Jack 11 months previously, after which he required shoulder surgery.
In hindsight, McDonnell – and DeGale – feel that they took the Truax fight too soon after the 32-year-old Londoner’s operation, and would have been better off waiting until the year was out before getting back to action.
“We rushed back into it after surgery,” McDonnell said. “We should’ve waited until after Christmas for the fight. But listen, no excuses – it’s been and done.
“James is in full training now – he’s back sparring. He’s ready to get back to where he belongs, which is right at the top.”
While the dogged Truax undoubtedly performed better than expected against DeGale, McDonnell believes it was more a case of DeGale losing the fight, rather than Truax winning it.
“Truax is a competitive fighter, but his win was nothing to do with his style causing James problems,” McDonnell stated. “Let’s be real, he’s got some losses on his record [to Jermain Taylor, Daniel Jacobs and Anthony Dirrell]. If he’d have boxed the real James DeGale, the outcome would’ve been very different.”
McDonnell is confident that DeGale will “show how good he truly is” in his next appearance, which the trainer is hopeful will be against Truax.
McDonnell revealed: “The Truax rematch is the fight we’re looking for, so hopefully that happens. I’m sure James will put the wrong right. He looked great in sparring the other day against a kid who’s probably better than Truax. He said to me after the spar, ‘Jim, trust me. You watch what I do to Truax. You watch.’ He’s really focused on winning his world title back.”