IBF super middleweight champion, James DeGale, is looking to return to the ring this December and return in a big way in 2018. In his last defense in January of this year, DeGale had a unification fight with Badou Jack, a fight that was a close back and forth match that ended in a draw. DeGale hopes now after surgery and time away that he can get back and be even better than he was before.
In part 1 of my “On The Ropes” boxing radio interview with James DeGale, I discuss with him the reason why he has been out of the ring for so long and talk about when he plans to return. DeGale also speaks on what kind of opponent he would like for his return and who he would like to face after that. Additionally, James talks about the last time he was in the ring against Badou Jack and speaks on the issues he went through to come out with a draw. Here is what James DeGale had to say.
Jenna J: What is the status on your return to the ring? Can you give the fans an update?
James DeGale: I had shoulder surgery, I’ve been boxing with a messed up shoulder for the last couple of years, in the Medina and Badou Jack fights. After the Badou Jack fight I went to the doctors and they diagnosed it, and at first they thought it was just inflammation and I needed some ligaments tightened up, but when they actually went in they found that I had a tear around my shoulder and in my rotator cuff as well. My shoulder was pretty gone, so I’m actually surprised in myself how I boxed so long with it.
Jenna J: How far off do you think you are from returning to the ring?
James DeGale: I’ll be back in December. I got the operation done in June. The last couple of months have been frustrating because it was all rehab, but the past nine weeks I have been getting back into the boxing gym. I’m doing my rehab, I’m doing my strength, and now I can punch and jab with it fully, I can hook with it. Remember I’m a right handed southpaw and it’s my right hand, so I do a lot of work off my jab hand. I hook off my jab, I jab a lot, and in my last couple of fights I couldn’t do that, I was basically boxing with one arm. I’m just glad that it’s fixed and healed, and I can get back into boxing one hundred percent.
Jenna J: Are you going to try go get a world class opponent or do you want a tune up first?
James DeGale: I’m actually speaking to Al Haymon, I just leave that to him. I don’t want it to be a world beater, I don’t want it to be one of the other three world champions, I just want someone in the top ten that will push me and will give me the rounds to test out my shoulder. Next year is my year, next year is the big year. I want to be bigger next year, I want to fight three times next year in big fights, unification fights. I want to have a big homecoming as well, so next year is the year.
Jenna J: The last time you were in the ring you fought Badou Jack in a unification bout. A lot of people felt you should have gotten the win, can you talk about your experience going through that fight?
James DeGale: Full credit to Badou Jack, we both put on a hell of a fight. It was an entertaining fight, it was difficult fight with my arm. I had a nose operation as well. In my past fights a lot of people have been criticizing me saying I’m not fit because I had something called a deviated septum, where the cartilage in my nose was blocking my airway and I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs. I wasn’t recovering properly and it looked like I was not fit. I had that fixed as well after the fight in February.
I’ve had two operations in the last six months. It was a good fight, it was entertaining. I started well, in the middle rounds he came back and then with that knockdown in the end of the fight, that just killed me in the last round because if I wasn’t knocked down, I would have won the fight on the scorecards. In the future, you don’t need hard fights like that because they’re the kind of fights that take it out of you and cut your career short, so I don’t want too many of them.