By Robbie Bannatyne: “I could retire tomorrow and be happy,” said James DeGale “but the problem is haven’t made enough money from boxing yet”. They say money is the route of all evil, but for British boxing fans money will be the route to some massive fights in the super middleweight in the near future.
De Gale has spent most of his professional career in the wilderness under previous promoter Wayne Hennessey, having to suffer the ignominy of slugging it out in local shopping centers at times. However, since the Olympic Gold medalist moved to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions, those troubles are now a distant memory. James De Gale arrived on the big stage with a bang when he won the vacant IBF 168lb title against American stylist Andre Dirrell on Saturday in Boston.
From a point where it seemed his career was taking a worrying path, he is now walking on boxing’s red carpet. He’s received all the plaudits for the title winning performance, now it’s time to get paid. This is a fascinating prospect for fight fans as DeGale will simply have to engage in mega-fights to bank the millions he wants to make before retiring from the sport.
If time is money, then at 29 years old, with his financial future far from secured, James DeGale cannot afford to waste either of these precious commodities. Having said that, the signs suggest that the Londoner will look to line his pockets against a credible contender with name recognition in his 1st defence of his title, rumored to be in September or October time. Potential opponents include semi-recent Carl Froch victims, Lucian Bute and Mikkel Kessler.
However, it is against another vanquished foe of Froch where De Gale can really feather his nest. A domestic punch up with long-time rival George Groves is the most mouth-watering and by far the most profitable prospect for DeGale. Of course Groves first has his own business to attend with Badou Jack, who he will fight for the WBC crown the Swede recently acquired from Andre’s brother, Anthony Dirrell.
If Groves keeps his end of the bargain and beats Badou Jack then a unification clash between him and De Gale will be a bona-fide stadium bout. It’s just a pity the fight will have to marinate for at least another 12 months. But given the fact that the pair have been eternal enemies ever since they fought out of the same amateur boxing club as kids, British fans will be confident their patience will be rewarded with a great fight when DeGale and Groves inevitably rematch. Before the Groves fight can come to fruition ‘Chunky’ will want to set about bulking up his bank balance.
After his impressive American debut, DeGale probably won’t be short of offers to defend his title across the Atlantic. Young Top Rank prospect, the undefeated Gilberto Ramirez, would fit the bill perfectly when applying the risk vs reward model. Given the 23 year old’s Mexican heritage and crowd pleasing fighting style he can rely on a loyal and fanatical fan base. Furthermore, blessed with the backing of HBO and Bob Arum, the money is in the bank to entice De Gale back over to the States to face Ramirez. Most importantly, though, DeGale would have a great chance of winning in style against the gutsy Mexican, who struggles with pure boxers and has a pretty porous defence for a fighter ranked so highly- WBC #2, WBO #2, IBF #3, WBA #3- by all the sanctioning bodies.
In a domestic context, a contest with Carl Froch or rising star Callum Smith would be DeGale’s best options for big money fights. However, the Carl Froch fight is probably a pipe dream and, for the time being at least, Eddie Hearn may want steer DeGale away from the 6ft 3in Smith, whose ferocious body punches make Golovkin look like Paulie Malignaggi.
Whoever the opponent, wherever the location, the time is now for De Gale to make the profit he deserves from prize-fighting.
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Fight Fans: Who should DeGale fight next?
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