By Thomas Gerbasi
With James DeGale making his third straight North American appearance tonight when he faces Rogelio “Porky” Medina at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C., it might be time to make the Londoner an honorary citizen of the United States or Canada.
“I’m loving it over here,” he laughs. “This is the place. I said in the press conference that if you want to make a massive name in boxing and you want to build your name, you have to come to America. My last two fights have been in North America and I really do like it out here. I’m half thinking about moving over here in the next couple years because it’s going to be perfect for my career. I’m loving America.”
America is responding in kind to the charismatic Brit, who won his IBF super middleweight title with a decision victory over Andre Dirrell in Boston last May and defended it by beating Lucian Bute in Quebec City in November. But make no mistake about it, if tonight’s Showtime doubleheader proceeds as expected, with DeGale beating Medina and WBC champion Badou Jack turning back Bute, DeGale will push for the unification bout to take place on home soil. And he believes he’s earned that right.
“I think so,” he said. “I think Badou Jack as well, if he comes through. He’s actually come out and said that he’s willing to come to London. So listen, I need a homecoming, I need to box back at home and if it’s for two titles and unifying the division, that would be massive back at home.”
He’s right, as few fans get behind their fighters like British fans do. It’s enough to get a young man distracted from the task at hand, but since winning a Gold medal in the 2008 Olympics DeGale has proven to be fairly immune from such distractions. Or, at the very least, he hides it well.
“Going to the biggest show on Earth and winning an Olympic Gold medal is a massive experience in itself and it gives you a lot of confidence as well,” he said, and while dealing with the post-Olympic hype is one thing, the 30-year-old proved even more in his fight against Bute, as he followed up an emotional win over Dirrell with another big victory in his first defense.
“I’m a true professional, so I’m always working hard in the gym and I’m mentally always on point,” DeGale said. “So for my first defense, I was switched on because I knew Lucian Bute was a good fighter, and I had to go in there and put on a really good performance, which I did. When you become champion, it’s harder to keep it, so you’ve got to train even harder. So I was switched on and ready.”
The same plan is in place for tonight’s bout. Then it’s unification and world domination. It’s a good time to be James DeGale, who remains as hungry as ever, despite a gold medal around his neck and a world championship belt around his waist.
“I could retire tomorrow and be happy and humble because I’ve won an Olympic Gold medal, I’ve made history becoming the first Olympic Gold medalist from Great Britain to win the world title, I’ve defended it,” he said. “But that ain’t enough for me. I want to go on and make a big name for myself and it’s about building a legacy now. I want people me to know me worldwide and maybe one day be pound-for-pound the best in the world. We’re a long way away, but I just want to make a name for myself.”