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DeGale set to trigger rematch clause for Truax fight

By Tim Royner: James DeGale has decided to trigger the rematch clause for a fight against IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Truax. This comes after DeGale, 31, was beaten by the American Truax (29-3-2, 18 KOs) by a 12 round majority decision last month on December 9 at the Copper Box Arena in London, England.

DeGale (23-2-1, 14 KOs) was a heavy 100/1 favorite going into that match against the heavy-handed U.S fighter. Truax, 34, was picked the No.15 spot in the International Boxing Federation’s rankings at 168 at the time. It was perhaps the closest thing you could come to a sure thing win for DeGale, and yet he still lost the fight by the scores 115-112, 116-112 and 114-114.

DeGale wants the rematch with Truax to take place in the first quarter of 2018, according to The Star.

The 2008 Olympic gold medalist DeGale said initially that he didn’t have a rematch clause in his contract for the Truax fight, but it turns out that he did. It’s a good thing for DeGale. He would probably get the rematch with Truax anyway, as he doesn’t have that many options right now given that the top fighters [Chris Eubank Jr., George Groves and Callum Smith] in the 168-lb. division are competing in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament and they’re not available to fight him.

DeGale needs to win back his IBF title so that he can have that as a bargaining chip to face the winner of the WBSS. If DeGale were to try to face the winner of tournament as a mere contender, he would likely be stuck getting a lot less money than he will if he can face the winner as the IBF champion.

DeGale, 31, had been out of the ring for 11 months prior to facing Truax. DeGale had shoulder surgery after his tough 12 round draw against Badou Jack last year in January. DeGale hadn’t tested out his shoulder in a fight before facing Truax. That’s the unfortunate thing about being a champion. DeGale had to face a contender for his IBF title defense, and obviously the bottom #15 ranked Truax was viewed as the easiest option for him to take at the time.

Against Truax, DeGale looked weak, rusty and nowhere near the fighter that had battled Badou Jack to a 12 round draw 11 months prior to that. DeGale blamed his lackluster performance on his shoulder not being strong in the way he needed it. But that doesn’t explain why DeGale kept dashing back to the ropes and covering up each round against Truax. By fighting against the ropes, DeGale let Truax shell away at him with his heavy shots. For DeGale, it was second loss of his 8-year pro career. There was no question that DeGale lost the fight to Truax. The judge that scored it 114-114, Dave Parris, seemed to be watching another fight, considering how bad DeGale looked in taking some vicious uppercuts from Truax. In a couple of the early rounds, DeGale looked like he was on the verge of being knocked out by Truax. DeGale ate some big uppercuts from the American.

After the fight, DeGale’s face looked swollen, and he appeared groggy and punch drunk when he was being interviewed. At the time, DeGale sounded uncertain about whether to continue his career, saying that he wanted to ”take time out to reflect and make some decisions going forward”.

Evidently, DeGale has talked it over with his team and family and decided to continue on with his career. However, you have to wonder whether DeGale will end his boxing career if he takes another beating from Truax in the second fight. Another sluggish performance by DeGale like last time, it probably will be a signal that it’s time for him to hang up his gloves. It could be that the Badou Jack fight took more out of DeGale than originally thought. DeGale took some big head shots from Jack in that grueling fight, and he might have left the best of him behind on the night.

It’s too bad DeGale can’t test out his shoulder in a tune-up fight before facing Truax in the rematch. DeGale doesn’t have that luxury. As the contender now, DeGale will have to take the rematch as is and hope he can do better against the hard hitting Truax the second time around.

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