by James Slater – In the case of many fighters, what they learn in the gym while sparring amounts to way more knowledge than any early pro fight will get them. Larry Holmes, for one example, was the beneficiary of priceless learning of his trade while he was the great Muhammad Ali’s sparring partner in the early to mid 1970s.. Knowing the value sparring with the best boxer of his era, and lucky enough to be able to have the opportunity of getting it, is UK’s middleweight prospect James DeGale, the 2008 gold medallist at Beijing.
According to his promoter Frank Warren’s official web site, DeGale will very likely be sparring with none other than the great former pound for pound king, Floyd Mayweather Junior in July. “Money,” who will be working off any acquired ring rust ahead of his return bout with the superb Juan Manuel Marquez – this bout now back on for September 19th, of course – will be sparring in Las Vegas and “Chunky” has the option of going over to Nevada to be one of the 32-year-old future Hall of Famer’s sparring partners.
DeGale, 2-0(1) as a pro, spoke about how much of an honour it will be for him to share a ring with the modern day master.
“We’ve got a few options [regarding sparring], including training with Mayweather in Vegas,” DeGale said. “I’ll get good quality sparring and that’s what I need. To be in the gym with Floyd will be unbelievable. Floyd is one of my favourite fighters ever. He’s a boxer who can dig deep when he needs to. Mayweather is a proper showman – I love his attitude. He has all the skills.
“If I’m half the fighter he is I’ll be cool.”
It is to be hoped the “options” DeGale speaks of are indeed picked up on. Sparring with such a sensational talent will probably do the 23-year-old more good than a good number of his early fights. No disrespect to the Ciaran Healeys of the world – the Irishman being next for DeGale, on the under-card of the rescheduled Kotelnik-Khan bill – but a few rounds working with “Money” will prove to be far more valuable in terms of gaining experience.
Warren’s site added how DeGale, with his trainer Jim McDonnell, the former world class super-featherweight, will travel around America in the summer and that the two will visit many of the top gyms available.
Some experts say if a fighter wants to make it to the top he must go across to the US to adequately learn how to fight. With the entire British nation hoping he will become the next big thing in boxing, it is to be hoped James DeGale can soak up as much as he can while he’s over working in the States.