James DeGale is living the dream right now. Having secured the IBF super-middleweight title against Andre Dirrell back in May 2015, ‘Chunky’ has already made one defence in Quebec against Lucian Bute, and faces another against Rogelio Medina next month in the US. That feel-good factor is radiating throughout the Stonebridge Boxing Club, where gathered media were invited to watch the IBF king in action this afternoon.
The Harlesden-based fighter looked in fine shape during his open workout, and as he told us at BNTV, he isn’t too far from making weight with just over a month until his second defence. He said:
“I’m feeling sharp, feeling fresh. It’s been a bit of a long camp again. By the time I fight it’ll have been almost six months, so I’m raring to go! I’m so comfortable at super-middleweight, and I’m only about nine pounds off weight already.”
The man he faces is the Mexican Rogelio Medina, who has six defeats on his record – one of which is a knockout loss to the current WBC super-middleweight champion Badou Jack. In spite of being the overwhelming favourite, DeGale insisted his underdog mentality will still be used throughout the buildup and on the night itself – though he acknowledged a stoppage should be on the cards.
“I’m going in as a challenger, and that’s what Jim [McDonnell] drills into me. Train like a challenger, go in like a challenger. This guy’s dangerous. He’s got a lot of knockouts (30 KOs in 36 wins), but every time he’s stepped up he’s been beaten. I’ve got to go in there switched on and focused, but I’m confident of beating him. Really, it shouldn’t go the distance, should it? I’m not in there to have a knockout race with Badou Jack, but all I want to do is go and there and look good and get the job done.”
During our discussion with James, his summer homecoming seemed to be the principal subject. Should he overcome Medina as expected, he is certain his next bout will be back in the United Kingdom before the close of 2016. Though Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium is his dream venue, he later told us that September at the O2 Arena seems far more likely.
Whatever the venue, the 30-year-old insisted he was only interested in the big names and big money fights, with the winner of Badou Jack vs. Lucian Bute appearing to be the immediate favourite to set up a unification bout. George Groves’ name came up, but as DeGale explained, only public demand could tempt him into offering his rival a big-money rematch. He concluded by telling us:
“My homecoming will be after the next one. Get through the next one; it’s coming – possibly September at the O2 but we’ll see. I’m willing to fight in domestic fights. I actually like it! They bring a good vibe; everyone loves it. I’m willing to fight anyone; I’m pretty easy. I’m a dream to promote! If they pay me, that’s it.
“A couple of good wins and Groves is back up there, but I’m not too sure if he’s the same fighter. I think those losses against Froch and Badou Jack took it out of him. I don’t really want to give him a rematch, but if the general public demanded it, then why not? I’d rather box Badou Jack. I’ve dealt with Bute in his own backyard before. I would fight Bute if it meant getting another title, but I’d rather box Jack – it’s another challenge and one I’m comfortable with.”