James DeGale should be very proud despite falling short in unification bout
PUBLISHED: 13:15 23 January 2017 | UPDATED: 13:34 23 January 2017
James DeGale's bid to unify the IBF and WBC titles against Badou Jack may have ended in failure, but the Harlesden boxer can come away from a thrilling fight with plenty of plaudits after a heroic display in New York on Saturday.
DeGale is understandably devastated, as the “road warrior” – as he has widely become known after his exploits abroad – wanted to be recognised as the pound-for-pound best super-middleweight in the world.
Unfortunately he wasn’t able to achieve that on this occasion, but the courage and determination shown throughout his bout with Jack, ensured he would keep hold of his IBF crown, as the contest ended in a majority draw.
Following the bout DeGale’s post-match interview with Sky Sports was interrupted by Jack’s promoter, none other than Floyd Mayweather, who expressed his discontent that the bout had ended in a draw as he felt his fighter was a clear winner.
DeGale stood firm, though, and told the boxing legend not to disrespect him on live television.
The former Dale Youth ABC starlet has never been afraid of voicing his opinion and putting his point across, and his exchange with Mayweather proved exactly that.
After an excellent start to the bout, knocking Jack down in the first round, DeGale did let his foot off the gas, as the Swede began to assume control of the fight.
But after a rallying cry from coach and mentor Jim McDonnell, DeGale put in a fantastic shift towards the latter rounds of the bout and looked to be heading towards a superb and career defining victory.
That wasn’t to be as, to Jack’s credit, he produced a faultless display in the last round, knocking DeGale – who was already nursing a perforated eardrum, a broken nose and missing his front tooth – to the canvas.
Chunky is no quitter, though. He got back up and fought till the bitter end, and despite not getting the verdict he wanted, no-one can deny the top class fighter he has developed into over the last few years.
Unsurprisingly, considering how close the bout was, DeGale immediately called for a rematch with Jack, but Mayweather made it clear that it is now time for his fighter to make the step up to light-heavyweight, and if he goes through with this it will mean Jack vacating his WBC super-middleweight crown.
Callum Smith has been handed a title shot against Jack, but that fight increasingly looks unlikely, so a clash with Andre Dirrell for the then vacant title would be highly likely.
DeGale is eyeing a match-up against Smith, and knows the public are also vying for a grudge rematch between him and arch rival George Groves.
His next opponent is likely to be Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui, who is soon to be the mandatory challenger for his IBF title.
In other news, the 2008 Olympic gold medallist is likely to join forces with Eddie Hearn again and sign a new three-year contract with Matchroom – while snubbing the advances of Mayweather, who says he would love to become DeGale’s promoter.
DeGale realises that, despite differences of opinion with Hearn at certain stages of his career, he has always delivered big fights for him time and time again and wants to repay that loyalty.
A rematch with Groves would be a mouthwatering prospect, and while DeGale has regularly laughed off suggestions that the two defeats against his former Dale Youth team-mate are ones which play on his mind – citing the amount of success he has achieved in comparison to Groves – he would love to silence him once and for all.
A mega-money clash at Emirates Stadium would be an enticing prospect. For now DeGale is battered and bruised, but he should be proud of his efforts and keep looking forward.