James DeGale must retain his focus throughout second title defence, says trainer

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 April 2016

James DeGale during a recent media day at Stonebridge Boxing Club, London.

James DeGale during a recent media day at Stonebridge Boxing Club, London.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

James DeGale’s trainer, Jim McDonnell, is in confident mood ahead of the Harlesden boxer’s second mandatory defence of his IBF super-middleweight championship this Saturday, but has warned him he needs to stay ‘switched on’ throughout.

DeGale takes on Rogelio Medina in Washington, and while McDonnell has full faith in his fighter, he is taking the threat of the challenger very seriously.

He told the Times: “This guy [Medina] is the real deal. He’s proved his punching power, he’s got a lot of knockouts and it only takes one shot in boxing.

“James is that good he doesn’t have to get hit, but he’s got to be switched on.

“He can’t go in there sleepwalking. As long as he goes in there switched on and on point, he’ll look really good.”

McDonnell himself has fought at the highest level , and he is using all his experience to help the 30-year-old, who is adapting to life as champion.

He added: “When you’re the challenger coming in, you’re the hunter but James isn’t hunting any more, he’s being hunted. These guys are hungry because it’s their one chance at the big time.

“You only underestimate in your preparation, if you don’t prepare properly and things don’t go to plan and you’ve got to go to the trenches, there won’t be anything in there.

“Unless you’ve been to the level I’ve been to, you’re guessing, you think you know what it’s like but I know when I’m pushing him. I would never let him do that and he’ll come into the ring in tremendous shape.”

The fight is on the same card as Badou Jack’s meeting with Lucian Bute, who DeGale beat convincingly in his first title defence, and the winner of that is likely to meet DeGale in a unification bout should he overcome Medina. McDonnell is excited by this prospect.

“I think Badou Jack would be the right fight at the right time and hopefully in the right place and I say that meaning London.

“James deserves that because he’s Britain’s most successful fighter and a history maker.”

There have been murmurings of domestic fights for DeGale too, with Callum Smith and George Groves being mentioned, but McDonnell isn’t excited by the potential of either of those bouts, favouring a rematch with Andre Dirrell instead.

“No-one really gives me that excitement,” he added.

“None of those fights excite me like James matching his skills against Dirrell in America again, to see how good he was against someone also that good.

“I don’t think any of the domestic fighters being mentioned would have a chance against Dirrell.”

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