By Frank Wiechula, courtesy of The Daily Star
JAMES DeGALE has put a self-imposed gag on one of the most famous motormouths in British boxing...for now!
But once super-middleweight DeGale lifts the world title, as he believes he is fated to do, then he will really let rip at his bitter rivals, including fellow Londoner George Groves.
It is a case of see, hear and speak no evil for DeGale until he becomes world champ, which could be two fights away if he overcomes unbeaten Dutchman Gevorg Khatchikian in Bristol on March 1 - live on Channel 5.
A likely May world title eliminator against Badou Jack, the American-based Swede would then follow, with a summer challenge for WBC world champion Sakio Bika’s belt awaiting the victor.
DeGale, 28, said: “The first couple of years of my career I was doing my thing, I was talking a lot. But now I’ve realised boxing works in many ways.
“There’s a lot of dogs in boxing, a lot of politics and backbiting. So, just for the time being, while I’m making my way towards that world title, I’m just going to keep it low, keep quiet, until I get that title.
“I don’t feel I’m in a position, just yet, to call people out. If I do, people will go, ‘Oh, what’s he done, who does he think he is?’ I’m letting my boxing, my fists, do the talking in the ring, for now.
“But once I get that world title I’ll be back and running my mouth. Then I can start making some noise, calling people out. That’s when I’ll be back, trust me.”
DeGale has had to watch on frustratingly as Groves - who inflicted his only defeat in 18 contests - fight and lose for the world title against Carl Froch, and then get a second, lucrative bite at Froch this May - while his own career has slowed.
And DeGale admits it has been pretty hard for him to bite his lip, especially against some of his more vitriolic detractors on social media.
The 28-year-old added: “Every successful person, every person whose doing well in their life, their career is going to get stick. There’s some nasty people out there.
“It’s a part of it and you’ve just got to deal with it and it doesn’t bother me, not one bit. I get it every day, every week, if I responded to everyone I wouldn’t have any time to do my training.
“I get people on Twitter loving me and my career and appreciating what I’ve done and telling me they can’t wait to see me box for a world title.
“But, on the other hand, I get people who hate me and say, ‘Oh, flash so-and-so, who does he think he is doing this, driving around in a nice car?’ They think I’m it.
“Yeah, I am a little bit like that, but, if anyone knows me, they’ll know I’m just down-to-earth and genuine and loving what I’m doing.”
DeGale is now over the injury problems he said affected him in his last five fights having had undergoing surgery on a groin problem and then extensive physio on a troublesome left knee.
He said: “If I keep performing and I deliver in the ring I should be world champion by the summer.
“Would I like to fight the winner of Froch v Groves? 100 percent and it would be an even bigger fight with a few world titles on the line."