Britain’s James DeGale, the reigning IBF super-middleweight champion, wants to go down in history as one of the best fighters from his homeland; and that means becoming a dominant world champion in two weight divisions. This is what the Olympic gold medal winner told The Star, and the gifted southpaw says he is looking at getting himself big fights with the stars of the 175-pound division in the near future.
First, DeGale must get past Mexico’s Rogelio Medina this coming Saturday night – on a card that will also see WBC 168-pound champ Badou Jack defend against former world champ and DeGale victim Lucian Bute – and then the plan is for him to meet and defeat Jack in a unification clash (the fight is penciled in for September, probably in the UK). DeGale, 22-1(14) knows the fight with Jack will be a tough one – he says he relishes the idea of being the underdog in the fight – but after a win, “Chunky” wants to take even bigger risks up at light-heavyweight.
“My last two performances have been against the best in the division in Andre Dirrell and Lucian Bute,” DeGale told The Star. “I’ve beaten those guys and after this one I can become undisputed champion and then I’m looking for the biggest fights. I’m thinking about moving up to light-heavyweight and fight the likes of Adonis Stevenson. Sergey Kovalev is the best and is another one but Stevenson is probably a better opponent for me first. I could stay at super-middleweight and box domestic guys but worldwide would I be known as the best for doing that?”
DeGale is very much a throwback, in the way he craves the biggest, best and riskiest fights. For this he should be applauded and if the 30-year-old can achieve wins over Jack and Stevenson and/or Kovalev, he will be well on his way to being recognized as one of the pound-for-pound best on the planet. And as big and as strong as he is for a super-middleweight, and as talented as he is, DeGale looks to have the stuff needed to be able to have success up at 175-pounds.
No disrespect to Medina, who can punch, but Saturday’s fight looks like a sure win for DeGale. If Jack can get past a seemingly rejuvenated Bute (who pushed DeGale hard in their exciting rumble) the planned unification fight looks a potentially tough assignment for both men. But if he can win that one too, DeGale will become a bigger name in the US; maybe a big name who will then dare to be really great by taking fights against the best light-heavyweights on the scene.
And to think, some people wrote DeGale off after he lost a decision to arch-rival George Groves in May of 2011; a fight that seemingly took place an eternity ago.