Boxing sensation James DeGale has been backed as one to watch in 2009 – alongside US President elect Barack Obama. The Olympic middleweight gold medallist has been picked by Britain’s longest running Afro-Caribbean newspaper The Voice as one of the faces of the New Year.
And he features alongside other movers and shakers in the worlds of sport, politics, show-business and finance, including Obama, Usain Bolt, Lewis Hamilton and X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke.
“Barack Obama is such an inspirational figure and to be mentioned in the same context as him is fantastic,” said DeGale, who will make his professional debut later this year.
“He’ll become the most powerful man on the planet when he takes office – and I’m aiming to become the most powerful boxer in the world!
“Seriously, it’s great to get this kind of recognition, and I’m determined to prove a point when I make my debut and show everyone what I can do.
“It’s not long now until I turn professional, and I’m counting down the days until I finally step through the ropes.
“I trained over Christmas and the New Year, and I’m raring to go.”
MACK AND HENRY SET TO GO TO WAR LIVE ON ESPN2
On the 6th February 2009 at the Wicomico Civic Center, Salisbury, Maryland two light heavyweight contenders will meet, the winner is likely to go on and compete for one of the major titles and the loser will be left by the wayside with the prospect of rebuilding a career in tatters. The two light heavyweights in question are Yusaf Mack and Chris Henry.
Mack has already been in this position twice before when falling short against former International Boxing Federation champion Alejandro Berrio and title contender Librado Andrade, he knows this could be his last chance to really make his mark. Mack has turned things around since the loss to Andrade and has looked impressive in his last three fights with wins over Ernesto Zamora, Daniel Judah and Omar Pittman. He is confident and ready to take full advantage of the opportunity, and has been quoted in saying “I know I have made mistakes regarding my conditioning and preparation in the past, I relied on my ability alone and was killing myself to make weight, but things have changed, I am stronger and fitter than I have ever been in my career, I have changed everything in regards to my preparation for fights and now keep to a strict diet and take regular vitamins which I never did in the past, I am living and training how a true professional should. Not only that, I am fully focused on fulfilling a promise I made to my father on his death bed that I would win a world title for him, as far as I am concerned Henry is in my way of keeping that promise I will be putting him to sleep, I am suppose to be here and I will continue to prove that to all my doubters out there. I have the right team behind me and I have been with my trainer John Tandy for nearly a year and he has changed my life, I am a different person to the one that lost those fights, I will not be losing again.
Henry has also competed at the highest level when he faced WBC champion Adrian Diaconu at fairly late notice in the Romanian’s hometown, Henry pushed Diaconu all the way and at times looked like he may become the first man to beat him, he has recovered well from the points loss and won his last two fights against decent opposition, his record an impressive 23-1 with 18 wins inside the distance. He is the bigger man fighting his whole career at light heavyweight and cruiserweight and will be confident he is the stronger of the two.
Also an interesting addition to the undercard is hot young unbeaten middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero who is currently 12-0 with 11 stoppages, his opponent is yet to be named. However he will be looking to impress in front of his home town fans, Guerrero had a busy 2008 with 11 fights and he is looking to move through the rankings quickly and establish himself as a top contender in the near future.
This fight will be shown live on ESPN2 and the main event of Mack v Henry will be for Mack’s NABA and Henry’s NABF titles over 12 rounds.
INGLES BACK BROOK TO HIT THE HEIGHTS
The world famous Ingle camp in Sheffield are backing welterweight hot shot Kell Brook to match the achievements of the gym’s other world champions, Naseem Hamed, Johnny Nelson and Junior Witter.
Brook, still only 22, makes the second defence of his British title on January 30 at Bethnal Green’s York Hall against Stuart Elwell.
And trainer Dominic Ingle – who shares corner duties with his father Brendan and brother John – is expecting big things from “The Kid”.
“It will be a travesty if Kell doesn’t become a world champion with the talent that he has,” said Ingle.
“In fact, our biggest problem at the moment is getting him opponents who will test him, because the only danger that I can see is complacency.
“I’d like to see him challenging for European honours by the end of the year and working on his world rankings because he’s a world class fighter and needs to be pushed all the time.
“He’s still young, but fighters like Naz were challenging for world titles at a similar kind of age.”
Brook had a memorable 2008, capturing the British title against Barrie Jones at York Hall, then knocking out former champion Kevin McIntyre in the first round in Glasgow.
Both victories saw Brook display plenty of power against opponents who have troubled other fighters.
“Against Jones, people said that Kell was gifted the title, but a couple of months later Jones gave Souleymane M’Baye a tough fight and should have got the decision,” said Ingle.
“And McIntyre was being tipped for victory before Kell did a job on him. Those Kell’s two toughest fights, and he gave his best two performances as a professional.”
Meanwhile Brook, unbeaten in 18 fights with 11 stoppages, has trained throughout Christmas and the New Year.
“The gym is very competitive, and no one does you any favours,” said Ingle. “Kell knows that he has to be in shape and not cut corners because otherwise he’ll get found out.
“But his attitude is fantastic and he’s working so hard. He put in 14 weeks before he fought McIntyre, and he’s had another great camp ahead of this fight, so we are expecting another explosive performance.”