BACK WHERE I BELONG
Fighter Diary by James DeGale
The IBF super middleweight champion of the world is readying himself for a fourth defence of his title in familiar surroundings ahead of his BT Sport debut from the Copper Box on Saturday night. In the first of his exclusive Fighter Diaries, James DeGale talks the story so far, his American dream and a return to home comforts with Frank Warren
IN MY CAREER there has been a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs. I had that low period when I lost to George Groves, which made me show what kind of person I am and what kind of mentality I have.
I showed how strong I was to come back, rebuild and later become world champion. I’ve done alright, but boxing has been good to me – it really has – and I’ve shown a lot of dedication and made sacrifices.
I am pleased with what I’ve achieved in the sport so far, coming from the Olympic Games and I had a lot of doubts hanging over me because just because you are an Olympic champion doesn’t give you any guarantees – so it was a proud moment for me going over to America and winning my world title.
I am happy, but there is a lot more to come.
I have now come sort of a full circle by joining up again with Frank and I have also got one of the most powerful men in boxing behind me in Al Haymon to advise me.
If this relationship back with Frank is a success and everybody is happy, we will move forward together because Frank has got a massive platform with BT Sport and everything is looking good.
Frank has built a fantastic stable up and it is just getting stronger. Something big is happening again with Frank and he is putting on some top shows – just look at this card on Saturday!
Myself and Lee Selby – arguably the two most skilful world champions in Britain – and then the undercard with Daniel Dubois and Anthony Yarde is great. So you have got the current crop of world champions and the future ones coming through.
Some people were surprised over me linking up with Frank again but first time around was a long time ago. I am a big man now, I was just 22 years old when I first turned professional – where have those years gone? And, not only am I getting older, my fans and the people around me are also getting older. It’s scary!
Listen, me and Frank have got history and I really like him. I call him Uncle Frank and when I first turned professional he treated me extremely well, paid me extremely well, got me the right fights, the fights that I wanted he delivered.
We did have a bit of a fallout, but it is nothing and I am a very different person now at 31 to what I was then.
After having my last four fights overseas – in the US and Canada – I have now got this reputation as a road warrior, but it wasn’t intentional.
People tend to forget and it is crazy that it all only came about because of a lost purse bid before I fought for the vacant title against Andre Dirrell.
Eddie Hearn gets the hump, but he only has himself to blame! That is how it all came about though, but I have lived the American dream and have loved the experiences.
There is the possibility of going back there next year but I want to stay at home now, especially with Frank and the platform he’s got. There are some massive fights he can stick on fantastic shows.
This show at the Copper Box will be a sell-out, so Frank has got the right fighter that he can have big shows with.
I’ve heard it said that I have dropped off the radar with the public but I haven’t noticed it and If anything I’ve got bigger. I get recognised a lot more now and fighting away has maybe made me a bit more exclusive.
I am not one to show up everywhere and turn up at the opening of an envelope, so I keep myself exclusive, but I am very, very happy with how everything has panned out in my career.
Once again, Frank has delivered for me with this show and I have got to prepare for a fight in familiar surroundings.
Next time – James on being restored to full working order after injury