James DeGale Confident Ahead of Title Fight with 'Basic' Badou Jack

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2017

James DeGale is confident he has enough to handle Badou Jack.
James DeGale is confident he has enough to handle Badou Jack.Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

James DeGale didn't hold back when asked why he felt his super middleweight unification fight with Badou Jack on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, took so long to come together.

He thinks that he looked too good against Lucian Bute and that Jack's team, led by former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather and CEO of Mayweather Promotions Leonard Ellerbe, were waiting for him to look vulnerable.

DeGale took down Rogelio Medina in his last bout in April 2016, but the fight lasted the full 12-round distance and was more competitive than it appeared on paper. And that's why he believed Jack's team came around to this fight.

He thinks they were waiting for him to show some vulnerability.

"If I'm being honest, the only reason why this fight hasn't happened quicker is because Badou Jack didn't want it," DeGale told a media conference call. "After the [Lucian] Bute fight he probably didn't want it."

"And then after the Medina fight because I boxed rubbish because Medina went full rounds on me, Badou Jack has got lot of confidence, Leonard's got a lot of confidence. Mayweather's got a lot of confidence of him seeing me go 12 rounds, and it was lackluster performance against Medina."

DeGale respects Jack but feels he's a basic fighter.
DeGale respects Jack but feels he's a basic fighter.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

DeGale, who is the first British fighter to capture both an Olympic gold medal and a pro world championship, thinks it would be a huge mistake for Jack to underestimate him based on one fight.

And he's not overlooking his opponent.

Jack has resurrected himself after a devastating 2014 first-round knockout loss to journeyman Derek Edwards that threatened to derail his career.

It was a shocking defeat—particularly given the nature of the knockout.

But he responded well and won his first world championship in a minor upset of hard-hitting Anthony Dirrell in 2015. His last fight was a ridiculous draw (he won at least eight rounds to anyone watching) against Bute, and he seems to have come into his own since becoming a champion.

DeGale respects Jack's skill level and what he's accomplished, but he knows he will be better.

"I would say I've boxed a lot of people like Badou Jack. He's pretty basic but he's good at everything," DeGale said. "He's a basic fighter, but he's really good at everything he does. So I'm saying he ain't got no special effects, nothing fancy."

"He does it very, very well and in the ring I can imagine it to be very hard when I stand in front of him. He's very technical. He's got a good job, works the body well, got a good defense. But I've got everything covered."

DeGale and Jack clash Saturday night for the unified super middleweight championship.
DeGale and Jack clash Saturday night for the unified super middleweight championship.Michael Reaves/Getty Images

DeGale and Jack engaged in a spirited debate on last week's conference call with some heavy fire about how each man has performed against their common foes.

The fighters have four names in common on their resumes—Bute, Medina, George Groves and Marco Antonio Periban—with Jack going 2-0-2 and DeGale 3-1 against those opponents.

DeGale dominated Bute and Periban but lost a nip-and-tuck affair to Groves in just his ninth professional bout. He was quick to point out that Jack "went life and death with Periban. Life and death. I knocked him out in three rounds," just to irk his foe.

Both men have had the impressive wherewithal to overcome losses and get to a position where the winner of their bout will likely be considered the man to beat in his weight class.

The British fighter knows that will be him.

He has zero doubt that's he's 100 percent and that will be enough.

DeGale respects Jack's talent and accomplishments, but he just feels he will be better and walk out of Brooklyn as the unified super middleweight champion of the world.

There are just too many advantages for him to lose.

"Oh there's loads but I'm going to tell you one that stands out is just speed, movement. I'm not going to have to say. I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to do because he's going to be very shocked what I'm going to do," DeGale said.

"Speed. I'm so much faster in movement. I move my feet so much better, there's two things there that it's just going to confuse him. I'm going to make things a whole lot harder for him."


All quotes obtained firsthand.