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Warren: DeGale shouldn’t retire

Image: Warren: DeGale shouldn’t retire

By Scott Gilfoid: Promoter Frank Warren doesn’t think it’s time yet for James ‘Chunky’ DeGale (23-2-2, 14 KOs) to retire from boxing following his loss to Caleb Truax (29-3-2, 18 KOs) last Saturday night.

DeGale looked like an old fighter far beyond his years against Truax. The fight called for DeGale to show courage to stand in there and fire off shots from center ring. What we saw instead was a frightened DeGale, bailing out and running to the ropes every chance he could get. It looked like DeGale was trying to hide, and he didn’t fancy the action.

DeGale covered on the ropes and threw very few punches. Truax was the hungrier fighter of the two. He was willing to push through periods of exhaustion to keep nailing DeGale with shots to the head. The 5th round was really bad for DeGale with him not punching, and getting hit with uppercuts repeatedly by Truax. There was a moment there where it looked like DeGale was ready to be stopped. He was extremely close to hitting the deck for the 10 count. The referee that stopped the Anthony Joshua vs. Carlos Takam fight in the 10th likely would have stepped in and stopped the fight last Saturday when DeGale was getting worked over by Truax in the 5th. DeGale was in much more trouble against Truax than Takam was in the 10th round of the Joshua fight.

Warren believes the 31-year-old DeGale is still a young man and has more time left in his career. It didn’t look that way last Saturday with the way DeGale was royally pummeled by the 34-year-old Truax from round 5 to 12. The judges saw DeGale losing the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 115-112, 116-112 and 114-114. What’s really alarming is how much of a beating DeGale took in the fight. Truax was supposed to be an easy fight for DeGale to give him a break from having fought four really tough opponents in a row in Badou Jack, Rogelio Medina, Lucian Bute and Andre Dirrell. As things turned out, Truax was an even tougher fight for DeGale than the previous 4, thanks to the punching power and pressure the American fighter was putting on him. In hindsight, it might have been a mistake for DeGale’s handlers to put him in with a guy with heavy hands like Truax. He didn’t have the speed of Jack, Medina, Bute and Dirrell, but he had good power and a pressure style of fighting that made him a nightmare for DeGale.

“I had him as a big favorite going into the fight,” said Warren about DeGale in talking of the Truax fight. “To me, it’s a big upset. You got to take into consideration his shoulder. The punches weren’t flowing. I think part of that was mostly with his shoulder. We’ll try hard to make a rematch in the spring. Champions come back and win. It’s all about coming back and regaining it,” said Warren.

DeGale’s best chance of winning a world title is to fight Truax again, but the outcome might not be any different. Warren isn’t going DeGale any favors if he makes that fight next. As slow and hittable as Truax looked, I don’t think he’ll hold onto his IBF title for very long. DeGale has no choice but to fight Truax again if he can get the fight in the spring.

DeGale hasn’t looked like the same fighter he once was since his close 12 round decision win over Andre Dirrell in 2015. Dirrell looked like he was past his prime in that fight, and yet he almost beat DeGale. If not for the 2 knockdowns DeGale scored in round 2, he would have lost. DeGale looked like he lost something from his previous fights against Marco Antonio Periban, Brandon Gonzalez, Gevorg Khatchikian and Dyah Davis. DeGale was at his best in those fights. There were a lot of boxing fans that believed that DeGale would have beaten Groves in a rematch if he had faced him during this period of his career. You can’t say that now though. DeGale has been on the slide since the Dirrell fight, and he’s looked worse with each passing outing.

“Just being on the ropes all the time was not good tactics,” said Warren. “When it comes to the fight, it’s a different thing. It’s not sparring. He could have won the fight. He let the other guy be the aggressor. He thinks that it was because of his shoulder. When he was on the ropes, he wasn’t letting his shots go. He’s got to go back in there and do it. It’s not like he’s washed up. He’s still a young man. He’s only 30. I don’t think he should retire. It was just a bad day at the office,” said Warren.

If DeGale takes another beating from Truax, it would be best that he retire from the sport. DeGale has made his money in boxing, and he doesn’t need to stay around the sport if he no longer has the talent to compete against the best. Right now, DeGale is looking like a textbook example of a faded fighter. He could get hurt if he stays on much longer and takes more beatings from heavy-handed fighters like Truax.

It was definitely a bad idea for DeGale to fight off the ropes against Truax. I don’t think DeGale had any other choice though. He didn’t have the conditioning to stay in the center of the ring against Traux. DeGale looked like his legs were heavy, and every movement he made suggested that he didn’t have the energy to stay in the center of the ring. As such, DeGale would retreat to the ropes where he could rest his legs. 31 is sometimes ancient for some fighters. I’ve seen more than a few fighters that were no longer at their best when they hit 30. The fighters that depend on speed and mobility like DeGale are the ones that are impacted severely when they get into their 30s. Roy Jones Jr. is an example of that. In his 20s, he was blazing fast and unbeatable. But when he hit his 30s, he started slowing down and suffering knockout losses to Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. These are guys that Jones would have dominated in his best years of his career.

You can argue the punishment DeGale has absorbed in his last 4 fights has made him a shot fighter. Truax merely took advantage of DeGale being worn down by Badou Jack, Dirrell, Bute and Medina.

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