DeGale defends his selection of Truax as his opponent
By Tim Royner: IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale seems to be a little thin-skinned about his decision to fight #15 IBF fringe contender Caleb Traux this Saturday night for his voluntary defense at the Copper Box Arena in London, England. DeGale (23-1-1, 14 KOs) has been getting blasted by the boxing fans for picking the 34-year-old Truax (28-3-2, 18 KOs) rather than a top 5 contender.
Truax was stopped in round 1 by Anthony Dirrell last year. It wasn’t one of Truax’s performances, you can say that. DeGale is coming off of shoulder and nose surgery, and a 12 round draw against Badou Jack earlier this year.
It looks like DeGale is not in the right frame of mind to take on a talented young lion that would give him some trouble. Jack knocked DeGale’s front teeth out in their fight on January 14, and that obviously had something to do with him not wanting fancying the job of fighting one of the dangerous contenders like Jose Uzcategui, Anthony Dirrell, Patrick Nielsen or Caleb Plant.
Dirrell, 33, isn’t that young anymore, but he still can pack a punch. Truax is very beatable, and DeGale should be able to win this fight on Saturday night without getting beaten down like he was against Jack.
“I’ve had a bit of a stick about the opponent to be honest, but he’s ranked in the top 15 and this is the perfect fight back,” said DeGale to espn.com. “He’s a fringe world-class opponent, I’ve just come off surgery and I’ll not have boxed for a whole year by the time I fight so people have to give me a squeeze really. If you look at my last four fights I’ve fought Badou Jack, Rogelio Medina, Lucian Bute and Andre Dirrell all in North America,” said DeGale.
Bute and Medina should have been easy fights for DeGale, but they turned out to be fairly grueling affairs for him, considering that he was forced to go the distance against both of them. DeGale won both fights by 12 round decisions, but he was hit a lot. Going 12 rounds with Bute and Medina isn’t easy, and DeGale was forced to take some major shots by both guys along the way. By the time DeGale got to the Badou Jack fight last January, he looked a little depleted going in. Taking an easy fight now makes sense for DeGale, but it might not be easy if he can’t get Truax out of there.
We’re not going to see if DeGale has anything left in the tank at this point in his career until he gets inside the ring with the likes of George Groves, Chris Eubank Jr. or Callum Smith. Those are now 3 of the top guys in the 168 lb. division. Gilberto Ramirez is one of the top guys as well, but his promoters at Top Rank seem to be more interested in matching him against guys that he can beat. They haven’t spoken of wanting to get Ramirez involved with fighting the better fighters in the division. DeGale is pulling for Groves to win the World Boxing Super Series tournament so that the two of them can face each other in a rematch.
DeGale’s surgically repaired right shoulder and nose will be tested this Saturday by Truax. If DeGale can get through this fight without reinjuring them, he’ll be in a good position to take on a bigger name in 2018.
“I deserve someone who’s not a world beater,” said DeGale.
The boxing fans won’t give DeGale too much stick for taking on a bottom feeder like Truax for this fight, but if he continues to milk his IBF title in the future, you can bet they’ll let him know about it.