DeGale says he doesn’t get respect in UK
By Scott Gilfoid: IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) has dubbed himself, “The Road Warrior,” because he frequently has to travel outside of his own country of the UK to scratch up fights. DeGale will be fighting outside of the UK once again this Saturday night in his unification match against WBC champion Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
This will be DeGale’a fourth consecutive fight on the road where he’s fighting in another country. That’s pretty impressive and also sad for a fighter that won an Olympic gold medal in 2008 for Great Britain.
When you see fighters like IBF heavyweight Anthony Joshua and George Groves fighting in front of huge crowds in the UK, and then someone like DeGale having to go outside of the country to fight, it makes you wonder what’s going on.
DeGale said this to skysports.com about him not getting the respect in the UK:
“In this country, I don’t get the respect. And that’s not me being stupid, or bitter about it. I have got my supporters, my fans, and I can’t wait for the homecoming,” said DeGale. “But I’m not getting the credit. After this fight, I should get the credit. I’m coming home, trust me. Next year, a big one against Callum Smith.”
The real question is why isn’t DeGale getting the respect that he wants/deserves from the British boxing public? Is it because he doesn’t have a high percentage of knockouts? Former world champion Joe Calzaghe wasn’t a knockout either, and yet he had the British fans eager to see him fight all the time.
What’s the difference? DeGale has lost only one fight in his entire seven-year pro career, and that was the controversial 12 round majority decision loss to George Groves in 2011. I remember seeing that fight and I felt that DeGale should have won. But what was interesting about the event was how the crowd was firmly behind Groves despite him not having anywhere near the same amateur credentials as DeGale.
Instead of the fans backing the Olympic gold medalist DeGale, they were cheering for Groves the entire fight. DeGale dominated the fight from the 6th round on, and I had him easily winning. The only thing I could think of was the three judges were unconsciously influenced by the pro-Groves crowd on the night. My point is that the fans were backing the fighter with arguably less talent in Groves while choosing to ignore the more talented fighter DeGale. It was strange, because you would think that the fans would have been backing DeGale, and not wasting time on Groves, who looked like a six-round fighter with the way he turned red in the face and gassed out by the 6th.
Wouldn’t it be sad if DeGale doesn’t get credit for beating Badou Jack, and still doesn’t get credit if he beats unbeaten Callum Smith later this year? If that were to happen, then I guess DeGale might need to fight outside of the UK for the remainder of his career if he can’t get the British fans to rally behind him the way that they’ve done with the likes of Carl Froch, Groves and Anthony Joshua. Unfortunately for DeGale, I don’t think he’s going to beat Badou on Saturday night. I definitely don’t see DeGale beating Callum Smith. That’s a dangerous fight for DeGale, and he’s made to order for Smith.
“I’ve done it the hard way – first Olympic gold medallist from Great Britain to win a world title, the ‘road warrior’,” DeGale said.
If DeGale makes a clean sweep in 2017 in beating Badou, Callum Smith and Groves, I would expect the British fans to show their appreciation by becoming huge fans of his. But If DeGale still isn’t able to bring in the fans and establish himself as a star in the UK after all of that, then he might need to remain a road warrior for the duration of his career. There would be no one else for DeGale to beat in the UK for him to prove himself.
If he beats Groves and Callum Smith, he’ll have cleaned out the UK of top super middleweights. Froch became a big deal in the UK after he competed in the Super Six tournament and lost to Andre Ward. Unfortunately for DeGale, there isn’t a Super Six tournament for him to become popular in the UK in the same way. The only thing DeGale can do is to keep winning on the road and hope that his fans back home in the UK will eventually start to become fans of his. DeGale is 30 no, and I don’t know how much more time he has left in his career as a top fighters.