James DeGale – A look back at 2010
James DeGale entered 2010 with seemingly much to prove despite having only made his professional debut just under a year earlier. In 2009, the Olympic Gold medallist would make his pro debut and fight 5 times against decent opposition which included top journeymen Vepkhia Tchilaia, Ciaran Healy and Nathan King. Despite winning all 5 bouts, 4 by way of KO, members of the boxing public still seemed dissatisfied.
It would seem James DeGale’s somewhat over confident attitude and air of arrogance rubs certain people the wrong way. Could it not be argued, however, that should a boxer demonstrate his skills against the very best opponents that he is entitled to show a little attitude in his boxing persona? Afterall, the man in question is an Olympic Gold medallist.
DeGale would enter 2010 with the boos from his very first pro bout against Tchiliaia ringing in his ears, or perhaps the ears of his management.
2010 started for him in February against Matthew Barr. Only a year before Barr and DeGale would meet in the ring, Barr had fought undefeated Frenchman Jean Paul Mendy in Toulon, France. DeGale would stop Barr in the 2nd round after knocking him down 3 times.
DeGale would then fight again in May against Sam Horton. Horton had a couple of names under his belt like tough journeymen Ernie Smith, Jamie Ambler, Cello Randa and, like DeGale, Vepkhia Tchilaia. DeGale would stop Horton in the 5th round. In the process, he would win the lightly regarded vacant WBA international super middleweight title.
On the 18th September DeGale would fight Carl Dilks on Frank Warren’s “Magnificent 7” PPV. Dilks was a step up in class for DeGale considering he had gone 12 rounds with the durable Ghanian Charles Adamu just 9 months previously. DeGale would stop Dilks with just a matter of seconds on the clock in round 1 after a flurry of punches. Many people thought the stoppage was slightly early, as did I, but there was no doubting the outcome of this fight.
Finally, on the 11th December in Frank Warren’s PPV to celebrate his 30th year in boxing promotion, DeGale would step up to a whole new level of opponent. He would challenge the British champion Paul Smith in Smith’s own backyard of Liverpool. Paul Smith had become somewhat famous for his starring role in the US TV show “The Contender” from 2007. But, there was more to his career than just a win on a TV show. On top of a number of wins against good quality journeymen, Smith’s last two bouts had been wins against Tony Dodson and Tony Quigley. He also came to the ring with an impressive record of 29-1 along with heaps of experience, which many people thought would be a potential key to him beating DeGale.
If fans didn’t know what DeGale was in for before fight night, they certainly knew what he was in for come entrance time. DeGale would enter the ring to a series of boos from the crowd, who had all come to support local boxing hero Paul Smith. DeGale would continue to get booed throughout his introduction and there was more to come during the bout. The crowd had not come to cheer on the Olympic champion.
None of this would daunt the overly confident James DeGale, however, who stuck to his gameplan and took the fight to the home fighter.
In one of the better fights in Britain in 2010, James DeGale would be victorious in the 9th round as referee Howard John Foster stopped the fight as DeGale laid on the pressure with a series of flurries and power punches that Smith could not keep away from.
DeGale had gone into the fight with a record of 8-0 and less than 2 years of professional boxing experience and would leave the arena with the coveted Lonsdale bout in his possession.
2010 was a great year for James DeGale. He ended the year claiming he wants to fight for a World title in 2011. Only time will tell whether he is ready to challenge an elite fighter at this stage, especially in the ultra competitive division he is in.
What is not up for debate is his talent. In just 9 fights, he is now the British champion and has the time and skill to follow in a long line of British boxing greats.
How great can he be? Again, only time will tell.