By Declan Taylor, courtesy of The Daily Star
JAMES DeGALE feared his boxing career was over after injury left him unable to even button his shirt.
The IBF super-middleweight champion has been out of action since his January clash with Badou Jack after surgery to solve a serious shoulder problem.
DeGale makes his return to the ring on Saturday when he defends his belt against American Caleb Truax at the Copper Box Arena.
But the 31-year-old admits he was worried he might not make it back.
“I could barely lift my arm up,” he said. “I couldn’t even button a shirt up. When I did take the sling off when I showered and stuff, I couldn’t even use it. It was worrying then.
“Did I worry I would never box again? Yes, I was doubting myself. It was only after about three months that it started getting better.”
As well as drawing a line under 11 months of inactivity, Londoner DeGale is also boxing in his hometown for the first time in three-and-a-half years.
It was May 2014 when he stopped Brandon Gonzales in four rounds at Wembley Stadium on the undercard of George Groves’ rematch with Carl Froch.
Since then he has boxed in Liverpool, Boston, Quebec, Washington and New York but now cannot wait to bring the roadshow home.
He said: “I feel like I have to prove what I’m about to the British public again.
“It’s nice being at home for fight week for once. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve come a long way since fighting in shopping centres and stuff.”
DeGale is a huge favourite to beat Minnesota man Truax before setting his sights on another 12st belt in 2018.
He added: “I’ve got this fight then hopefully I will box David Benavidez, the WBC champion, in March or April.
“Now that I am healthy and injury free I want to unify.”