James DeGale has revealed that he almost decided to quit boxing when it appeared that his dream of a world title fight was never going to happen.
The Olympic gold medallist is set to face Brandon Gonzáles in an eliminator for the IBF and WBA super middleweight titles on the same night Carl Froch faces George Groves at Wembley Stadium on May 31.
A win for the 28-year-old will guarantee him the world title fight that he so desperately craves, possibly against his old foe Groves, and yet it was just under a year ago the Brit was debating on quitting the sport for good.
“I had three months last autumn when I was doing the sums, and talking to my parents about leaving the sport,” DeGale admitted on The Telegraph.
“I really was deeply depressed about it all. Boxing has been my life since I was 11 years old and it was all I knew. I have invested in a couple of properties from the money I have earned in boxing as a professional and I wondered if it was time to walk away.”
DeGale, who has won 18 of his 19 professional fights, including 11 by way of knockout, grew quite the reputation during the early stages of his career and the money that he made almost convinced him to throw in the towel.
Although, the recent resurrection of the No2 challenger for the WBO 12st title is primarily down to him swapping former promoter Frank Warren with Eddie Hearn and joining his growing stable of British boxers at Matchroom.
“Every time it looked like I might get near to an opportunity of fighting for a world title, it fell through. Then I signed with Eddie Hearn and I’m now getting this opportunity on this massive card. Boxing is so political, and it is all about being positioned right. I am in a perfect place now.”
DeGale remains adamant that he has no preference as to who wins between Froch and Groves, although it is obvious he would love to get a chance of revenge against the man that inflicted the sole defeat on his previously unblemished record.
That crushing points defeat to Groves three years ago cost DeGale the British and Commonwealth 12st titles and was a massive set back for the star on his path to super middleweight glory.
“I don’t mind who wins, but I think Groves will win the rematch. He’s younger, has better footwork and is faster. I think he will do it second time around.”
“Groves and I are both different fighters, and we have matured. I didn’t like him then and I don’t like him now, but I’d love the chance of a rematch for the world title. And second time around I’d show him who’s the boss.”
There is certainly no love lost between the two and a rematch for the world title would be sure to produce a fiery affair, perhaps one likely of eclipsing the blockbuster that has been labelled as the biggest fight in British history – set to take place on May 31.
However, both DeGale and Groves must overcome tricky contests of their own in order to set up the dream rematch. But after being caught in limbo for 18 months unable to get a world title fight, DeGale will be relieved to finally have another crack of the whip and you can’t imagine him slipping up in front of a packed Wembley stadium.
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