Exclusive: James DeGale sees path to glory on Wembley Way

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James DeGale's decision to sign with Matchroom Boxing has almost overnight created a path for the Olympic Gold Medallist to make 2014 a memorable year for British boxing, with the super-middleweight contender insisting that a clear run towards world-title contention has lifted him from the depths of depression after the most frustrating spell of his career.

DeGale decided to split with former promoter Mick Hennessy last week and make the move to Matchroom, turning down offers from interested parties in the United States to box as chief support to the domestic grudge match between Carl Froch and George Groves at Wembley Stadium on May 31st.

The 28-year-old has a massive incentive to shine in a make-or-break fight with unbeaten Brandon Gonzalez in seven weeks' time, with the bout serving as a final eliminator for the IBF crown Froch will defend against Groves on the same night.

With so much to look forward to DeGale is adamant that a long road of broken promises and mounting frustration will only enhance his drive to go from boxing in front of 800 at Bluewater and Bristol to 80,000 at Wembley in dazzling fashion, as the 18-1 star looks to make up for lost time.

"This whole thing just feels unbelievable, it's just happened so fast, literally a day or two," De Gale told GiveMeSport.

"I had so many calls from overseas in no time, America, back in England, everywhere. The biggest people in boxing were all trying to find out my next move.

"I had to make my mind up pretty quick, everything has snowballed and turned over fast. Listen, more than anything I'm just excited, this fight at Wembley Stadium really means something. I run past Wembley every day and now I get the chance to make my mark there on a massive bill.

After watching hopes of a challenge for Sakio Bika's WBC belt dissipate DeGale is desperate to make his mark on the super-middleweights scene, three long years after his contentious close decision defeat to Groves at the 02 Arena, the only blemish on his professional record.

The Londoner was unable to hide his frustration at wasted time in the pro ranks despite carrying the presence of a fighter reborn though, admitting that he fell out of love with game as a slow burn towards world-title contention under Hennessy fizzled out without reward.

He said: "Listen, the last 12 months has been horrible. I've been very unhappy, depressed, which should never be the case when you're doing something you love. I need the big names to get me going, 100%. The better the opposition the better I fight, I honestly believe that.

"My family and my team have pulled me through this dark time. I'm very lucky, other fighters out there haven't got that support, a strong team round them all the time. They've kept me sane, pulled me out of the fire.

"Now I have something to focus all my energy on, something positive. I'm just looking forward to the future, on the big shows and the biggest stage."

The ultimate goal of a domestic dust-up for the IBF crown later this year with either Froch or Groves is now within sight, in the space of just 24 hours, but DeGale is adamant that he can't look past a warrior in Gonzalez, who trains with Andre Ward and Amir Khan on a daily basis under the tutelage of Virgil Hunter.

"He's a good fighter, unbeaten, and a qualit camp will give him a boost every day, no question. I've only seen a couple of clips of him, but he can box and fight, which you don't get very often anymore. He's Puerto Rican, but he's based in America, and you know they are warriors.

"Having said all that I'm confident of beating him, but I'm not stupid enough to look past him to what's ahead and I'll be fully focused on shining at Wembley."

DeGale decided not to attend when Froch and Groves contested an all-British blockbuster last November, but came to life when asked about that clash and proving he deserves to be mentioned alongside the pair on May 31st.

He explained: "I didn't go to the fight although I did TV in Manchester in the build-up, but even on the telly bloody hell I could feel the vibes from that stage, wow. There's a reason why this fight has sold so many tickets.

"I think styles make fights and I truly believe that Carl Froch is made for me. Technically he's not all there and that would be an easy night's work for me. Groves adapts a bit better, he can run round the ring and box off the back foot, jab when he needs too and that makes it a little bit harder.

"At the end of the day, I always get mentioned when people talk about George Groves, that ain't gonna change. They always remember James DeGale Olympic Gold Medallist, British and European champion, I don't feel any bitterness towards him.

"There's time for to shine against either over the next 12 months, I just want the chance to prove it so bad now."

After a host of false dawns DeGale can clear his head and build towards matching his talent to tangible success at the highest level against Froch, Groves or indeed any other contender at super-middleweight, with a stagnant career set to screech from one extreme to another if he takes care of business against Gonzalez under the Matchroom banner.

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