20th April 2012

James DeGale
James DeGale defends his European super-middleweight title against Cristian Sanavia this Saturday at the Arena Nord, Frederikshavn in Denmark.

DeGale had apparently been offered a world title shot against WBO super-middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz (45-5-1-13KOs) this week for May 5 after George Groves had to pull out of challenging Stieglitz with an injury while training in Northern Cyprus.

Olympic gold medallist DeGale, 26, who narrowly lost on points to Groves nearly a year ago, was contacted to see if he would like to step in at short notice. He decided to continue with his maiden defence of his European strap. DeGale had hit out at Groves’ world title chance, saying he didnt deserve it, maybe he felt he too didnt deserve an immediate world title shot himself or it was just the right fight, but the wrong time.

DeGale, 26, won his European title when he outpointed Piotr Wilczewski in October a victory that came on the back of the defeat to Groves, when ‘Chuncky’ lost his Lonsdale belt. The former Olympic Gold medalist from London is determined to push on to bigger things and an eventual rematch with arch rival Groves.

But DeGale cannot afford to be under par on foriegn ground this weekend and although a routine defence is expected, his 37-year-old Italian, southpaw challenger, unbeaten in his last five fights and who once held the WBC world title in 2004, is confident of causing an upset and believes his experience will be his key to victory over DeGale. “He (DeGale) had a great amateur career but has never been in the ring with someone as experienced as me,” Sanavia had said this week.

DeGale, (11-1-13KOs) has not fought in the six months since he won the belt from Wilczewski, mainly due to an ongoing contractual dispute with promoter Frank Warren, but says that although he has found his time out of the ring frustrating, he realises the former champion could be dangerous if he is not totally switched on.

“Maybe this is his last hurrah and that’s when a fighter can be at his most dangerous. I’ve trained hard, I’ve had good sparring with people like Billy Joe Saunders and John Ryder and I’ve left no stone unturned.

“I know I’m going to have to be switched on, but it can be hard to keep motivated when there’s no fight coming up. I thought I was going to be fighting in February and I had a 10-week training camp for that.

“Six months of inactivity at this point in my career is stupid. I should be having five or six fights a year and to not box for that length of time is hard.

“The more I think about it, maybe I’ve been fast-tracked too quickly, but hopefully soon we can get the ball rolling again. I’m European champion and with a couple more fights I could be boxing for a world title.” said DeGale.