James DeGale:’ The dread is very real … I’m scared of failing, I’m scared to lose’

James DeGale, the IBF world super-middleweight champion, tells Donald McRae how he will need the fear of failure to inspire him in a year who are able to net him 10 m

This could be a 10 m year for me, responds James DeGale soon after he has ambled downstairs wearing nothing but his underpants. At home in Hertfordshire, DeGale is so self-confident that an hour later hes still simply in his skimpy summary as he polishes off a bowl of porridge whipped up by his mum, Diane. The IBF world supermiddleweight champion puffeds out his bare chest and weighs off his possible world title fights this year, snapping a finger at each name.

Badou Jack Callum Smith George Groves who are able to draw me 10 million, DeGale suggests as his eyes widen. DeGale steps back into the ring on Saturday night when he and the WBC world champion, Jack, meet in an intriguing deed unification crusaded in New York. Jack, who is promoted by Floyd Mayweather, overcome Thickets, DeGales arch-rival, in 2015 and he represents another serious measure. It too labels the fourth subsequent world deed fight in north America for DeGale, who last-place fought at home, in England, more than two years ago.

He became macrocosm champ in May 2015, when he demolished the complete American Andre Dirrell in Boston. DeGale then defended his claim in Quebec, defeating the former world-wide champion Lucian Bute in his own backyard. His most recent title bout was another clear succes against the mediocre Rogelio Medina in Washington. Jack, a tough Gambian who grew up in Sweden but now campaigns out of Mayweathers camp in Las Vegas, is much more dangerous. If DeGale acquires, as he should, his credibility will be as lock as his bank balance.

Even my haters and doubters have to give me respect now, DeGale mentions. Ive been on the road a long time and this next fight is another engagement. It clears me think about Dirrell. I had the dread going to get that campaign. It was a genuine 50 -5 0 and I knew if I wasnt on my recreation I was going to get beat. He was a confident American and him and two brothers were talking junk. So I had that fear part. I didnt have it the last two campaigns. I knew I was the champ. I knew I was better than them. But against Dirrell I was the most jumpy Id ever felt. Same with this fight.

DeGale campaigned beautifully against Dirrell, knocking him down in the second round and then outpointing the American with some form. I know, he grins. Dirrell was very skilful. Hed merely lost once before me to Carl Froch in Nottingham and he granted Froch so many problems. So I was very nervous before that one.

As matches a person bold enough to complete a long interrogation wearing so little, DeGale is willing to bare the secret dread all boxers carry into the ring. The dread is very real, he alleges softly. I recollect Joe Calzaghe saying: The walking to the ring is all an ordinance because Im shitting myself inside. But on the outside he gazed so confident. Its exactly the same with me. Im scared of disheartening everyone. Im scared of failing. Im scared to lose.

After the first round it gets better. Against Dirrell I was seeing: Prop up, hes not as fast as me. I can hit him with my left to right. Its a wonderful sympathy. Ive never been in the ring with anyone better than me yet. Ive been with guys who are almost as good, and very competitive, but no one in sparring or a fight has been better than me. But I involve that fear to invigorate me.

Jim McDonnell[ his teach] always worries when I dont have it. This camp is different. Jim knows Ive get that fear, that side. He does: I see it in your eyes, James. Everything is on the line. If I acquire I become the first British supermiddleweight to unify the fraction abroad. Its record, this is why it feels like a big crusade. New York, Barclays Center, Mayweather promoting it. On Showtime and Sky Sports. This is the kind of night I dreamed of as a kid.

DeGale is 30 now and he can read how boxers certainly find on the inside. When he looks into Jacks face does he visualize a humankind who accepts he can win? Hes surely self-confident. Listen, hes often improved. When he won that macrocosm entitlement he wasnt expected to beat Anthony Dirrell[ Andres friend] but he put in a splendid execution and “re coming out” as WBC world champion[ in April 2015 ]. His last two opposes[ beating Thickets on a split decision and retaining his name after a stretch against Bute] show his character. He looks like a person who believes this is his time.

Could DeGale lose to Jack? Simply if Im not turn on. If the James DeGale from my last-place fighting, against Medina, transforms up, I could lose. But youre going to see the person that hit Dirrell. As Eddie Hearn does, Im a buzz fighter. The bright ignites, large-hearted stadium, large-hearted moment stimulate me. This is a New York unification fight for the most prestigious belts. Im buzzing.

Badou Jack aint a trash-talker. Hes exceedingly respectful. But at the last news conference they gave me a tiara which read Diva DeGale. My mum wants to know why Diva and they told her it was because it took so long to do the fight. But I would fight this guy free of charge. Beings dont realise Im willing to go to the darkest homes to win.

DeGale is still a slick stylist more in thrall to Mayweather than Mike Tyson. How has his hero reacted to him during this advertisement? Floyds been good. Every day I insure him he embraces me and speaks to me. When we firstly met and he cuddled me and read my name I was taken aback. This is Floyd Mayweather who, for me, is the best ever. Apart from Muhammad Ali hes No1. Hes a modern-day lore, the first billionaire boxer. And now hes promoting and the very important for him that Jack wins. Jack is his central soldier. Floyds applied a lot into him.

We start chatting about Mayweathers wry suggestion that he is more interested in DeGales sister, Eloise, when the doorbell hoops. The boxer saunters over to open the door to show off his underpants to the next guest. Oh, being, he hastens back to me, laughter helplessly, its my sisters boyfriend.

The boyfriend walkings in, gazing embarrassed. Its only banter, copulate, DeGale reassures him. Floyds only selling the fight.

Should he hit Jack, DeGale is enthused by the idea of fighting Callum Smith, the unbeaten big-hitter from Liverpool. I desire that battle, DeGale adds. Smith is a homecoming campaign a huge nature designation contend in England. Eddie Hearn told me its going to be in May. Callum Smith is one of the most severe pushes out there. But hes had lots of hype and hasnt been researched. He caught[ Hadillah] Mohoumadi cold[ stopping the Frenchman last-place April ]. Theyre dedicating Smith lots of credit because Mohoumadi went 12 rounds with me but “thats been” four years ago. That dont represent shit.

Who would triumph a fight between Smith and Groves? Hard to judge, DeGale alleges after a pause. Smith hasnt fought the same calibre of adversaries as Orchards. But Smith examines sensational. I predict Id go with Smith. Groves is fighting now.

In 2011 DeGale lost his only opposed as health professionals to Groves in a tight tournament. Groves also outstrip DeGale, who prevailed an Olympic gold medal in 2008, when they were amateur rivals. Yeah, but the ointment always rises, DeGale suggests. When we satisfied five years ago we were both 10 -fight novices. There was a lot of boast rights and he came out on top. It hurt me even worse. It took me a long while to get my mojo back. I led from being Olympic endorse, signing with Frank Warren, being touted as the next large-hearted situation and that Groves fight introduced me down. It was the worst experience ever.

How did DeGale feel when, in November 2013, it looked as if Groves was about to knock out Carl Froch in a huge macrocosm designation oppose in Manchester? He knocks Carl down and Im thinking: Oh my God, whats going on here its all gone wrong. I was engaging average American fighters who were just coming over for a money period. Groves should have won that engaged but he lost on a contentious halt. George was still on top then.

My break was when I signed with Hearn. I was on the Froch-Groves rematch undercard in front of 80, 000 at Wembley. I boxed brilliantly against an unbeaten American, Brandon Gonzales, and knocked him out. I grew Frochs mandatory challenger and it was all downhill for Groves. He went knocked out by Froch, who adjourned. I won the title against Dirrell. Groves got another chance against Jack and blew it. Hes got his fourth nature entitle chance coming up soon against[ Fedor] Chudinov. If he cant win that hes in trouble.

DeGale, surely, misses Groves to win so that they can stage their rematch afterward this year? Of direction. Id adoration that third big-money battle of the year for me.

Boxing is also scarred by ruin, and even demise. DeGale watches sombre when remembering the demise of Mike Towell and the lethargy digested by Nick Blackwell last year. Of course, it shakes you. It was ghastly. There were also bad injures in America. Even Groves last adversary[ Eduard Gutknecht] was in hospital a long time. But look at Nick Blackwell. He recovered and then, unbelievably, he had a sparring discussion. Another[ induced] lethargy. I couldnt understand it. You can only enunciate boxing is an addiction.

Does DeGale also feel like a boxing junkie? If Im in clique for a tough crusade like this one I sob and tell my mum I cant just waiting withdraw. But I will miss the training, and going respect and everyone knowing me. I pushed and have a week off and I want to go back to the gym. Perhaps Im too addicted.

DeGale smiles sadly. I aint met a boxer who dont have issues, who aint a bit bipolar, particularly in clique, when youre up and down. But Ive been fighting since I was 10. Twenty times. Can you believe it, Mum?

Diane DeGale looks at me. He adoration it, she tells of his fervour for boxing. Once he establishes it up hell is how much he misses the focus, the restraint

DeGale stands up. He begins to shadow-box, as if in Brooklyn rather than Bricket Wood. He preserves talking while he campaigns an imaginary Badou Jack. I get asked if boxing is in danger from UFC? No way. Boxing is a discipline, and an prowes. UFC will never take over from boxing. Its chip like WWE simply barbaric. Boxing is different. Boxing is a classy art.

The boxing master in his classy underpants grins and sheds a few more thrustings and uppercuts. Nothing beats a great push in a boxing echo. I think were going to see one with me and Badou Jack. Its about to become a career-best accomplishment at the least until I come home and campaign Smith and Groves. Its going to be some time. I predict you.

James DeGale: shadowboxing. Photograph: John Walton/ PA Archive/ PA Images

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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