Fighter in Focus: James DeGale

“I believe I am the no.1 Super Middleweight fighter on the planet.”

Likeability is the oxygen for recognition. Whether we like it or not, it’s the way the world works. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, how qualified you may (or may not) be, if your success is dependent on mass appeal then likeability is everything. Exhibit A: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. One of them should be President Elect the other one actually is.

In Britain we have an obsession with the plucky underdog, as a nation we get behind them like nothing else. Wait a minute isn’t the country called Great Britain…errrr yeah. The British public do love greatness, just as long as you don’t acknowledge you’re great. Be dominant, but don’t act like it. Be the best, Believe you’re the best, but never ever say it. That’s one sure fire way to rub people up the wrong way and torpedo that likeability we all so desperately need.

I don’t agree with that, and neither does James Degale.

He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right. – Confucius

Who? If I told you there was a young good looking fighter with charisma, and dynamic skills. This boxer is a former Olympic Champion as an amateur, and a British, European, Commonwealth, and World Champion as a pro, you would think he’d be a household name and celebrated by all. No, not in this case. “Chunky” is a marmite fighter. He is an outstanding fighter and one of if not the very best around…he knows it, and he’s not afraid to say it. Even I as a self confessed fan, respect the talent, but still struggle to fully wrap my arms around the man himself. The talent is undeniable, shot variety, footwork, speed, combinations he genuinely has it all. If only he was a little bit…I don’t know less marmite.

Here’s why…

The one where he arrived…

James Degale vs. Paul Smith

Likeability: 5/10

paul-smith-james-degale-boxing-echo-arena-nwrqphad0usl

This fight was for the British title and in only his 9th pro fight. An absolutely devastating performance leading to a stoppage and announcing that he was the real deal. Bigger and better things were expected and they did… just not in the shape we were all expecting!

The one where he came back down to Earth

James Degale vs. George Groves

Likeability: 2/10

Pictures of the Year
George Groves
Picture; Kevin Quigley

Domestic rivals, previous stable mates, and two men who genuinely dislike each other. A classic British match up and unfortunately for Degale he was the villain. What did I tell you about Britain and the plucky underdog, and when that underdog wins! Christmas come early. To this day this is still the only loss on Degale’s record and he has since gone on to win a world title. “Saint” George Groves has since lost 3 times, all while attempting to win a world title…

The one where he became a BOSS

James Degale vs. Andre Direll

Likeability: 6/10

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Redemption. The fight where he finally climbed the mountain and got the world title belt he always seemed destined for. An incomplete performance where he showed the best and worst of his talent as a fighter. Dominated the first half of the fight but took his foot off the gas and let Dirrell back into it later on. Worryingly this has become a trait. This needs to stop!

James Degale should win this fight against Badou Jack, if he does, let’s hope he learns and works on that likeability. His money and legacy depend on it.

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