Ahead of his world title fight in New York this Saturday, IBF World super middleweight champion James DeGale has been reflecting on his journey to this unification showdown with Badou Jack.
Speaking in a video for wearable training gear SIXPAD, the 30-year-old native Londoner describes his introduction to boxing.
DeGale said: “I started boxing at the age of 10. I remember it like it was yesterday, from the smell of the sweaty gloves. I used to like the sparring, I used to like the pad work, I used to like getting in [the ring] and punching someone or even getting hit.”
DeGale, who has been wearing SIXPAD as part of his training program in the build-up to this fight, talks about his toughest fights and the occasions he’s had dig deep to overcome the odds. He said: “The hardest fight I had was when I boxed for my European title. I showed what I about. I showed heart, determination. I bit down on my gum shield and dug in.”
With the unification bout against WBC World super middleweight champion Badou Jack just days away, the southpaw has been talking about what it means to fight in New York. He said: “New York is a boxing city; some great fights have been held there. I’m thinking Prince Naseem Hamed versus Kevin Kelley at Madison Square Garden. I remember watching that as a young boy and thinking ‘I want to do that’.”
Looking ahead to the fight, DeGale said: “This is the two best in the division, fighting each other. The champ versus the champ. This determines who is the best in the division.
“Badou Jack is a very, very good fighter. He’s underrated. He’s proven in the last few fights that he’s a world class operator, so I’ve got to be extremely switched on, be focused and super fit and be sure I come with a win and become number one in the division.”
Badou Jack vs. James DeGale on 1/14 on Showtime
WBC Super Middleweight World Champion Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) and IBF Super Middleweight World Champion James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) will look to stake their claim as the best 168-pound fighter in the world when they meet in a title unification clash on Saturday, January 14 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn and live on SHOWTIME as boxing returns to New York for the first time in five months.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will also feature undefeated junior lightweight world champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza (22-0, 12 KOs) defending his title against up-and-coming Mayweather Promotions’ undefeated contender Gervonta “The One” Davis (16-0, 15 KOs).
“I’m expecting a very tough fight from James DeGale,” said Jack. “But I’m very confident that I’m going to win the fight and become the unified champion. This is an incredible stage to be at Barclays Center and on SHOWTIME and I’m going to take full advantage of it. I’m ready to make my mark as the best in the division.”
“I am so happy that this fight has finally been made,” said DeGale. “This is the best fighting the best. This is what boxing is all about. Badou Jack is a very good fighter and he’s underrated. I am going to have to be 100 percent on my game to beat him, but I am confident I will deliver on January 14. I have already fulfilled my dream of becoming a world champion and now it is time to unify.”
“Davis is a great young fighter with an impressive record,” said Pedraza. “He is a complete fighter and I am very happy to fight a challenger of his caliber. However, I do feel that Davis has been protected so I plan to really show off in this fight and perform at my best. Defeating Davis will be a great start to 2017, a year I would love to unify my division. I am thrilled to be back on SHOWTIME and look forward to putting on a great show for all those in attendance at Barclays Center.”
“I’m excited for the opportunity to fight a respected undefeated world champion like Jose Pedraza,” said Davis. “I’m also ready to show the boxing world what I’m capable of doing. Boxing is searching for its next star and I believe that I’m the one. On January 14, I plan to show what over 200 amateur wins and 12 years of training with coach Calvin Ford looks like. Baltimore, we’re here. Brooklyn, I’m ready to shine for you. Jose Pedraza, get ready. I’m coming to kick your a**.”
“Mayweather Promotions is pleased to have the opportunity to bring this huge event to Brooklyn and Barclays Center,” said Floyd Mayweather, President of Mayweather Promotions. “Badou Jack versus James DeGale is one of the best match-ups in the sport. It’s the best fighting the best. I believe that Badou Jack has what it takes to be a unified world champion. I’m also excited to see Gervonta Davis fight for his first world title. He has the skills to be a fighter who carries the sport. He has a tough, undefeated world champion in front of him and I am looking forward to seeing him perform on January 14. These are two evenly-matched fights that will bring a lot of explosive action to the ring on fight night, you don’t want to miss it.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and DiBella Entertainment, start at $25. Tickets are available starting Friday, Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased online by visiting www.ticketmaster.com, www.barclayscenter.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
Both Jack and DeGale retained their titles on SHOWTIME in April. Jack kept his belt via a controversial split draw against Lucian Bute, a match in which many thought Jack had prevailed, while DeGale defeated mandatory challenger Rogelio Medina. Both fighters were sharp; each landed over 60 percent of his respective power punches to set up this showdown for the top spot in the super middleweight division.
“We’re looking forward to bringing our first boxing event to Barclays Center in Brooklyn on January 14, when Badou Jack will face James DeGale in a world title unification bout live on SHOWTIME,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions. “Badou has a tremendous work ethic and ability to stay focused and this has helped him get to where he is now in his career. He’s prepared to keep putting the hard work in to stay on top. Every time he was counted out, it just made him work harder. He’s proof that if you stay focused and dedicated to your craft, you can reach your dreams. I’m also eager to see Mayweather Promotions’ own Gervonta Davis in his first world title fight. We believe there is a bright future ahead for that young man and this could be the first step on his way to a truly special career.”
“Boxing will return to New York in 2017 with a tremendous card at Barclays Center on January 14 featuring two high caliber championship contests,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. “With Badou Jack and James DeGale facing off, you have champion versus champion, the best fighting the best in what promises to be an action-packed battle in a super middleweight unification. Puerto Rico’s only world champion, undefeated Jose Pedraza, will defend his junior lightweight title against a hungry, heavy-handed challenger in Gervonta Davis.”
“Jack vs. DeGale is a terrific start to 2017,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. “I want to thank Floyd Mayweather for making this fight happen and to Lou DiBella for his continued support of BROOKLYN BOXING. In our fifth year at Barclays Center, we are committed to boxing more than ever before.”
“In 2016, SHOWTIME delivered more high-quality, competitive fights than any other network and 2017 will be no different. We’re thrilled to kick off the year with a true ’50/50′ unification fight between two world champions in the prime of their career,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports. “Badou Jack vs. James DeGale is boxing at its best – a matchup between the No. 1 – and No. 2-ranked boxers in the division – the right fight happening at the right time. And the Jose Pedraza-Gervonta Davis co-feature, which features two of boxing’s rising stars, could have been a main event on its own. There is no better way to begin the year, as well as our tremendous run of four separate SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING presentations over a seven-week span.”
Jack, who fights out of Las Vegas by way of Stockholm, Sweden, captured the WBC 168-pound crown with a 12-round majority decision over previously unbeaten defending champion Anthony Dirrell last April 24. A former amateur standout who represented Gambia in the 2008 Olympics, Jack retained his belt against former world title challenger George Groves last Sept. 12 on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather’s final fight. Jack was an underdog against both Dirrell and Groves before retaining his title. The 6-foot-1, 33-year-old won four in a row leading up to his controversial draw against Bute in April.
DeGale won the vacant IBF belt in his U.S. debut last May by dropping Andre Dirrell twice on his way to a unanimous decision. The 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist from London then successfully defended it last November in a thrilling shootout with the hometown favorite and former titlist Bute. The 30-year-old, who’s only blemish came in a majority decision in his 11th bout against the then-unbeaten Groves, will make his fourth consecutive start outside his native England as he looks to become a global power and a unified champion at 168 pounds.
The switch-hitting Puerto Rican Olympian Pedraza backed up his “The Sniper” moniker against Andrey Klimov, picking apart the Russian with superior speed and accuracy on his way to a world title win last June. Pedraza earned a shot at the title in his previous bout with a career-best victory over former world title challenger Michael Farenas. The 27-year-old then went on to defend his title successfully against Edner Cherry last October and most recently against Stephen Smith in April. This fight marks the fourth consecutive time that Pedraza has fought on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING.
A highly regarded prospect that won the 2012 National Gloves championship, the 22-year-old Davis recorded five victories inside of the distance in 2015. The Baltimore native, who Floyd Mayweather has called “the next big star in boxing,” kept his momentum going into 2016 as he recorded a sixth-round stoppage of Guillermo Avila in April and a first round knockout of Mario Macias in June. Davis enters his first world title showdown with seven straight victories by stoppage.