By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
James DEGALE is convinced he is ready for a world title shot as even his sparring partners are running scared.
DeGale defends his WBC silver super-middleweight belt against Gevorg Khatchikian in Bristol tomorrow night.
And he believes the fact that a string of fighters have pulled out of his gym sessions proves he is in peak condition.
The 2008 Olympic gold medallist is now free from a niggling groin injury that has hampered him in recent years.
He said: “I’ve been working really well and we’ve had sparring partners deciding not to come and face me again because I am in such good shape.
“In my mind, that shows I am bang on course for a world title shot later this year. This is certainly my time now.”
His trainer Jim McDonnell said: “He’s in the best shape he’s ever been. I have honestly never seen him looking so good.
“No wonder so many sparring partners have pulled out, deciding not to come back a second time after sparring him.
“I’ve been getting calls from them saying they have bruised knuckles and can’t make it.
“I can name four, all good fighters, but I won’t. They know who they are and, to be honest, if I trained them I wouldn’t fancy my men sparring with James, either.”
DeGale, 27, is determined to put on a top class show in tomorrow’s contest, live on Channel 5.
He said: “Now the groin injury is over and done with, it will be like fighting without any handcuffs on because that’s the way it has felt in my recent fights.
“I have only been fighting at about 80 percent but now I am fully fit and raring to go. I can see me fighting for a world title after the summer.
“It’s all looking good because I was fooling myself before, trying to convince myself I was fully fit – but I wasn’t. Now, however, I am and I am raring to go.
“I am feeling absolutely great I’m right up there, because I have been getting into the ring knowing that I wasn’t 100 percent fit.
“Believe me, it was quite a distraction for me when I was about to fight in my recent bouts. But now that kind of worry has gone.
“This is definitely going to be my year. It is my time and I aim to make the most of it because I know I am right on track for that world title shot.
“I am on course for the top and I intend to get there. It’s a great feeling to be finally injury free and that is giving me a real boost for what promises to be a great year for me.”