By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
JAMES DeGALE has told Team GB’s Olympic stars to hurry up and go pro.
European super-middleweight champion DeGale won gold at the 2008 Olympics and by February the following year was making his punch-for-pay debut.
London 2012 heroes Anthony Joshua, Luke Campbell and Anthony Ogogo have yet to announce their future plans.
Joshua won super-heavyweight gold, Campbell stood on top of the podium in the bantamweight division and Ogogo won bronze at middleweight.
Others, like welterweight silver medallist Freddie Evans, appear to be staying amateur after committing themselves to the new British Lionhearts team in the World Series of Boxing (WSB).
Joshua has claimed he may remain amateur for the WSB, next year’s world amateur championships and even Rio 2016.
But DeGale insists that he and his Olympic team-mates should sign professional deals as soon as possible to ensure they cash in on their summer success.
He said: “I think you have to strike while the iron is hot and they are doing it a touch wrong in my opinion. They are leaving it a bit too late.
“But when you are living a good life, doing something you love, it’s hard to give up.
“The amateur game is not as cut-throat as the professionals and they are with friends, training together and enjoying it.
“As a professional your first 10 fights aren’t against top-level opposition, but in this new world amateur series you are boxing good amateurs and for good money. Maybe they will all stay amateur.
“But I haven’t got any regrets about turning pro. I’m on the right path and getting closer to the world title.”
The Londoner can take a step closer to that world title shot by beating Colombian Fulgencio Zuniga for the WBC silver super-middleweight belt in Hull next Saturday.
If he overcomes ex-world title challenger Zuniga without injury, he will face Italian Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye on January 26.
DeGale said: “This is probably the best boxer I’ve faced so far. He’s boxed for four world titles and at different weight divisions.
“He’s boxed a lot of world champions and gone the distance with most of them, so for me to get him on my CV would be a great achievement.
“He’s better than the likes of George Groves – his record speaks for itself.
“He knocked out ex-IBF world super-middleweight champ Alejandro Berrio in July and went the distance with Tavoris Cloud for a world title two years ago.
“He only boxed a few weeks ago, when he went the distance with someone who is ranked with all the main governing bodies, so he is going to be in good shape.”
Watch DeGale v Zuniga next Saturday live on Channel 5.