Former world super-middleweight champion James DeGale (23-2-1, 14KOs) faces a make or break fight tonight at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, when he rematches the man who defeated him last time out in London, American Caleb Truax. (29-3-2, 18KOs)
DeGale, 32, has promised he will become a two time world champion by retaining his IBF crown that Truax snatched from him via an upset points decision in December last year. But DeGale has also been honest enough to admit that if he was to suffer a second loss on the bounce to his conqueror, then he would consider calling time on his boxing career. A shoulder injury was sighted as the cause of his lack lustre display in the first fight, but DeGale isn’t looking for any excuses, he knows this is a career crossroads fight and it’s now or never.
“My last performance was horrendous.” explained DeGale.
“It was shocking and embarrassing. I’m not going to make excuses about my shoulder and what went wrong. On Saturday night, I will be a two-time world champion. I promise you that.
“I’ve boxed at the top level my whole life and put on some good performances. I know what was wrong with me and why I performed how I did in the first fight. I’m going to put it to rest when I become a world champion again.
“It’s been a long, difficult training camp. I had a gray cloud above my head the last couple of months, but I’m ready to go become a world champion again on Saturday.
“This time has turned me into a beast. I’ve had to take everything even more seriously than before. I might have gotten a bit complacent being a champion those last few years. I’ve locked myself down and I’m ready to go.
“I would say 90 percent of the loss was because of what I didn’t do. I looked past him. I came back too quick from the injury, but he still had to get in there and take my belt. There’s no disrespect to Caleb, but I’ve fought the very best of the division and come out on top. The real James DeGale will be back on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a dominant performance on Saturday. If I don’t beat Truax and beat him easily I can’t get to the level that I want. I know that’s what is coming. No excuses.
“It’s harsh, but I think it’s true: If I can’t beat Truax, then I’m going to have to call it a day,” he said. “I know for a fact what I’ve got left.” added DeGale.
Despite DeGale suggesting he had an off night four month’s ago, the new champion Truax earned his victory in London that night and DeGale knows he has a good fighter in front of him who will again test him to the limit. DeGale is correct, this rematch will see what he has left, he knows he can not afford to ebven have the slightest off night this time.
Truax himself has had a tough career and has had to come back from big losses. His career three defeats have only ever come at the highest level. Daniel Jacobs, Anthony Dirrell and Jermain Taylor were the men to beat him but he feels he was never fully prepared, even in the first DeGale fight. But this time he has had plenty of time to prepare and is determined to prove the first fight was fully deserved and promised a repeat result.
“I just want to go out there and silence people who said it was a fluke the first time I won.” said Truax.
“I want to prove that I belong at the top of the division. I’m going to put on a good show for the fans and retain my title.
“We’ve had four months to prepare for James DeGale. Normally I have six to eight weeks, so it was nice to have a drawn out and specific training camp. We really focused on the conditioning and making sure I’m reaching my peak.
“I’ve been through a lot in this sport. I’ve fought top guys in big fights but it finally came together last December. It meant a lot to me and now I’m prepared to put on an even better performance. I know DeGale is going to be hungry so I have to be ready for him.
“I had a great camp this fight. I knew we were going to have a rematch so I was right back in the gym in a couple of weeks. My trainer put together a great plan to help me improve and prepare for what DeGale is going to improve on. I’ll be ready for him to be 100 percent.
“I just want to get to Saturday night and put on another great performance to retain my belt. I’m going to give it my all to bring that belt back home to Minnesota.” added Truax.
This is it for DeGale the Brit will need to call on all his experience and strengths reserves to turn the tables and get revenge in the return fight. Truax will be confident as champion and with home advantage could be a tougher proposition for DeGale than last time. But DeGale with career on the line should be able to get the win. He is a great boxer and if he can use all his skills to stay in control of the fight he can secure a wide points decision to retain his status.
Big Fight Weigh-in, DeGale came in at 167 1/4lbs – 3/4lb lighter than their last fight four months ago. Truax came in at 167 3/4lbs, that is 3/4lb heavier than the December meeting.