The super-middleweight champion James DeGale will tomorrow undergo surgery on his right shoulder.
DeGale retained his IBF super-middleweight title after drawing with Badou Jack in New York on January 14, but since before fighting Rogelio Medina in April last year, has carried an injury that will require a "diagnostic arthroscopy and ACJ stabilisation" or as DeGale puts it "a scrape and tighten up."
DeGale was hopeful to fight English boxing hopeful Callum Smith on July 1 at the London O2, but instead, Smith decided to go for the WBC and challenge for the now vacant world title later this year.
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"I’m confident I would have won the fight, even with the injury, but it would have been his best chance of beating me," said DeGale.
Despite the surgery not being ideal for DeGale, he acknowledges that it was the best option available to him.
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Another more extreme option for the boxer would be to take bone from his hip and graft it on to his shoulder, which luckily DeGale has been able to avoid.
DeGale is aware of the comments being made about him not looking 100% and is hoping to get back to that level of fitness by the end of this year.
"Tomorrow I will have surgery on my right shoulder that will mean I will be out of the ring for a while.
"I suffered the injury several weeks before I fought Rogelio Medina 12 months ago but decided to fight through the pain, as I did earlier this year against Badou Jack.
"I was only operating at 60 to 70 per cent however and that showed against Jack – I only threw seven jabs in that fight and I wasn't able to throw a hook.
"Thankfully I've been good enough to get away with not being at my best, but I was almost found out in New York."
However, he does not want to stop there.
"My arm will be in a sling for a few days and I’ll be given exercises to do on my own. A few weeks later, I'll start my rehab with my physio and within eight to ten weeks I should be able to spar. I will definitely be able to fight before the end of the year.
"Boxing is how I earn a living so I have to be fit, but I've been plagued by injuries for the last few years.
"These haven’t been niggles; they've all required operations. I had two on my groin when I boxed on Channel 5, one on my nose after the Jack fight, and now this one on my shoulder."
In fact, DeGale believes that George Groves' most recent fight against Fedor Chudinov which, after four attempts, has seen Groves win his first world title, is a sign of him going backwards.
Despite victory, DeGale saw signs of weakness in his fighting.
"George Groves finally won a world title at the fourth attempt last month when he stopped Fedor Chudinov in Sheffield.
"Groves caught Chudinov early in round six and kept on punching and the referee had to stop it - but I didn't think Groves looked great.
"He didn't fight the best world champion – Chudinov is an average fighter who was tough and strong, but very one-dimensional – and I think Groves has gone backwards.
"I'm not being disrespectful but he's not got the same sharpness or attitude he used to."
DeGale believes that Groves thinks he is bigger than he actually is and that upon second attempt, he would beat him, especially after gaining fitness back.
For now, though, DeGale must focus on recovering well from the surgery he undergoes tomorrow, before getting back in the ring, as early as the end of this year.
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