James DeGale MBE says his “obsession” to create history as the first Birtish Olympic gold medallist to win a World title will drive him on to victory when he faces Andre Dirrell for the vacant IBF World Super Middleweight title in Boston on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.
DeGale has been biding his time to fight for a World title and is now just two days away from reaching his goal following a mammoth training camp.
The 29 year old believes he is in exactly the right place physically to claim the title, saying that he wasn’t fully fit in either of his impressive wins over Brandon Gonzalez last May at Wembley Stadium in London and his demolition of Marco Antonio Periban in Liverpool in November – but now ‘Chunky’ is in tune in body and mind as he looks to make an indelible mark on British boxing history.
“I’m obsessed with making history,” said DeGale. “It’s what drives me to work so hard in the gym and succeed in the ring. I need to stay focused and keep my eye out on the prize. That’s what I have to do.
“I am just a normal boy from north-west London, and I can become the first Olympic gold medallist from England to win a World title. The support I am getting has been fantastic, and I can’t wait to bring the belt home for the fans.
“It’s been a 16-week camp come fight night, so it’s been a long time. My body and mind feel ready to fight, I am so sharp and in a very good place. I’ve had the groin operations and even in the Gonzalez fight, I wasn’t at my physical best and the same against Periban – my movement was jittery but now I am flowing, it feels right – and you are going to see that on Saturday.
“Gonzalez came over to England, trained by Virgil Hunter, highly rated, and I took him apart carrying an injury. Six months before I KO’d Periban he’d pushed Sakio Bika all the way for 12 rounds, he had never been dropped and never been stopped, and I did it. Now I am injury-free, you are going to see the best of me.”
“There’s nothing but respect between us, but I am willing to go into a really dark place on Saturday night to get the win,” said DeGale. “I’ll take him into dark territory and will go to hell and back to win that belt – let’s see if he wants to do that. It’s going to be a brutal battle – and one that I am going to win.
“Andre said in the press conference that the belt doesn’t mean anything to him in the fight – well, the belt means everything to me and more. I am here to make history and it doesn’t happen without that title.
“I could win on Saturday night and retire a happy man – that’s how much I want to be a World champion. But when I do win that title, I am going for the rest of the belts, creating a lasting legacy for my country, my fans and myself.
“He is a classy fighter and he showed in the press conference that he is a classy guy too – when two fighters who believe in their ability 100 per cent and know they are going to win a fight, it is going to be explosive.”