By Joe Delaney, courtesy of The Daily Star
JAMES DeGale plans to clean up his angry image and kick-start his career next month.
The 2008 Olympic hero has signed a new deal with promoter Mick Hennessy for his fights to be shown on Channel 5.
He says it will be the perfect platform to show he not only has the talent to win a world title, but the personality to get the country behind him.
“I’ve got the buzz back,” said DeGale. “This is something new, something fresh, it’s exciting.
“I haven’t boxed on terrestrial TV since my Olympic final four years ago. I was a household name, but things all went a bit flat. With this new deal, I’ve got the hunger back.
“Mick’s last couple of shows have got two million-plus viewers. As an Olympic champion, things can go through the roof.”
The 26-year-old Londoner will defend his European super-middleweight title at Glow in Bluewater, Kent, on October 13, probably against Hadillah Mohoumadi, of France.
He also hopes to box in Monte Carlo in December as his career steps up a gear.
DeGale has boxed just once this year after ending his promotional deal with Frank Warren, knocking out Italian Cristian Sanavia to defend his European super-middleweight title.
“I had fights falling through and I would have trained for eight weeks,” he said.
“I boxed once in a year. You start not to care. Eight weeks in the gym and then you don’t box – and if you don’t box, you don’t get paid. I’ve got to think about my career too. In four years since I won the Olympic title, I’ve had 13 fights. That’s crazy.”
But DeGale began to turn fans off with his antics before his fight with George Groves last year, when he taunted his rival as “ugly” and “ginger”.
When Groves won a narrow points decision, few felt sorry for the loser.
“I want people to see me in a different light,” said DeGale. “People who know me know I’m genuine, I’m nice.
“In the build-up, you don’t realise what you are doing because behind the scenes, someone is going, ‘Yeah, Chunky, do it, you’re funny’.
You are getting the stick, but you don’t realise until after, when you read comments on Facebook, that people didn’t take things that well.
“I’m 26 now. I’ve matured. Groves is out of my system. That rematch will happen, somewhere along the line.
“I don’t need Groves. I am on terrestrial TV defending my European title and top of the bill – what more is there?”
Going to watch the Olympics this summer, where Anthony Joshua, Luke Campbell and Nicola Adams matched his gold medal, gave DeGale the hunger to reach the top again.
“I have no regrets about going pro,” he said. “I had my time, this was their time and they did fantastically.
“My advice to the medallists would be take your time before deciding what you want to do. And get a good team around you that you trust. There are lots of people who will tell you to do the wrong thing.”
SEE James DeGale from Glow, Bluewater, on October 13 live on Channel 5. Tickets from 01925 755222.