DeGale: I've fought injured five times
James DeGale has revealed frustrations over a recent groin injury which affected his performance in his last five fights, but indicated he is now fully fit and ready to capitalise on what could be a bumper 2014.
In an interview with the Guardian, DeGale admitted he suffered from Gilmore's Groin - a muscle tear in the lower abdomen - before undergoing an operation to rectify the problem in December.
The Brit returns to the ring on March 1 to fight unbeaten Gevorg Khatchikian in Bristol, a warm-up bout to his expected WBC super-middleweight title eliminator with Badou Jack.
- Luke Campbell continues his quest alongside James DeGale and Anthony Joshua for the gold medal-world title double, writes Steve Bunce.
- Read more of Buncey's column here
DeGale once again possesses vast potential for a successful year in the ring, while a possible world title clash with Sakio Bika is on the horizon. However, it has not been an easy road for the 28-year-old.
Following his narrow decision loss to George Groves in 2011 - the only loss of his career to date - DeGale successfully defeated Piotr Wilczewski for the European title. Since then, DeGale admitted it had been difficult to drum up the motivation in the ring; the boxers who he went on to fight have not carried the 'big fight' tag that Groves or Wilczewski had.
"My last couple of fights I've found it hard to get up for them, if I'm being brutally honest," DeGale told the Guardian. "It's hard, boxing at the Glow, in Bluewater [Kent] against someone who's ranked 50 in the world.
"I ain't had that feeling of big-fight excitement, probably since when I boxed for the European title [beating Wilczewski in October 2011]. That's a long time ago. I want that excitement, that edge that I had in those fights, against Groves and the European title.
"I can tell you the honest truth now. My last five fights I've been injured. After my last fight I had an operation [on 7 December]. I had something called Gilmore's Groin [a muscle tear in the lower abdomen].
"A lot of footballers get it. Years ago they had to retire. I couldn't run or twist, turn, couldn't train properly. I've been boxing like this for a couple of years but it gradually got worse. I fought, boxed s***, I won. I just got through it."
The purse bids for the WBC eliminator - to determine who will become mandatory challenger to Bika - have to be in by March 14. Under promoter Mick Hennessey, DeGale insisted he would fight anywhere, which could prove to be a likely outcome; Badou has the backing of Floyd Mayweather Jr and a Las Vegas fight has already been touted.
"Hopefully Mick wins the purse bid [on 14 March] and that fight is over here," DeGale said. "But, if it ain't, I'll go over there and beat Badou Jack. I'm not fussed. I've boxed all around the world. But what I need is a fight where people are going to take notice. So that would be a perfect opportunity for me, in Vegas against Badou Jack. Put on a good show, America watching, then box for a world title."