By Clive Bernath; James DeGale has a burning desire to avenge a defeat to bitter rival George Groves at the 02 Arena in London on Saturday night The 25 year-old, who struck Gold for Great Britain at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, lost a controversial points decision to Groves in an amateur bout six years ago and has been desperate for revenge ever since.
The bitter rivalry stems from when the pair boxed at the same amateur boxing club in west London as teenagers and DeGale still argues he was robbed against his former club mate.
"I was robbed six years ago and this is the story. It all adds up. He beat me as an amateur - well, ’beat me’ in inverted commas - but I went to the Olympic Games for our country and won a gold medal.
"Now we’re both professionals so let’s see who is the best now.
"The last time we shared a ring together it was the amateur James DeGale, the (future) Olympic gold medalist James DeGale. That was me running around the ring, jabbing his head off, fencing him.
"Now this is the professional British champion, ready to roll, ready to take his head off. I can’t wait to get in there now.
"I hope he’s remembering the old James DeGale and I think he is."
"If I’m switched on this should be an easy night’s work. I can’t see it going 12 rounds, seriously.
Meanwhile Groves argues that DeGale and trainer Jim McDonnell should not believe their own hype
"They’ve said things so many times that they believe them now, such as believing I’m getting knocked out in sparring. Really? Are they banking on that?
"Another example is them highlighting my black eye. Really? Is that all they have? Have they seen me sparring?
"Where has DeGale heard it? From his trainer (Jim McDonnell), his cheerleader, who is just constantly in his ear, telling him how great he is. When he’s not."
Indeed the verbal sparring in the build up to this highly intriguing domestic encounter has been entertaining to say the least and if the fight is half as exciting then boxing fans tuning into Sky Sports will not be disappointed.
All the hype and verbal sparring has now been left at the door, the real fight-in the ring- is just 24 hours away.
The bookies make DeGale the favourite (1-3 DeGale, 100-30 Groves and 49-1 the draw. 8-11 DeGale KO, 4-1 DeGale decision, 13-2 Groves KO, 11-1 Groves decision) and rightly so after his impressive performance in destroying Paul Smith inside nine rounds back in December to claim the British title while Groves was lees than impressive against Kenny Anderson.
It does appear as though DeGale is finally developing into a classy operator at the right time after struggling to adapt to the pro game early while Groves in contrast looked excellent in destroying Charles Adamu before a dip in form. More alarmingly, Groves, while technically gifted, does get hit far too often and against a crisp, quick counter puncher like DeGale he could find himself soaking up the punches for long periods. Having said that, Groves has a massive heart and that could make all the difference over 12 hard rounds. The outcome of this fight all depends on a number of scenarios. If Groves can engage DeGale in a toe to toe war up close then he could break DeGale down later in the fight. Alternatively, DeGale is more likely to use his speed and counter punching style to score points before moving off to a safe distance. I see DeGale building up an early lead and surviving some heavy artillery late in the fight to nick a close and maybe controversial decision.
May 20, 2011