European champion DeGale must be ‘switched on’ against Sanavia

16:15 18 April 2012

James DeGale

James DeGale

PA Wire/Press Association Images

James DeGale knows he cannot afford any lapse in concentration when he finally defends his European super-middleweight title in Denmark on Saturday night.

DeGale has not fought in the six months since he wrested the EBU belt from Piotr Wilczewski, largely due to an ongoing contractual dispute with promoter Frank Warren.

And, as he prepares to face former European champion Cristian Sanavia, the Harlesden star admits it has often been difficult to maintain his focus during the most frustrating period of his professional career.

As well as holding two European crowns, 37-year-old Sanavia was also briefly WBC world champion back in 2004, and DeGale told london24.com: “The pedigree’s there – he’s been there and done it.

“Maybe this is his last hurrah and that’s when a fighter can be at his most dangerous. I’ve trained hard, I’ve had good sparring with people like Billy Joe Saunders and John Ryder and I’ve left no stone unturned.

“I know I’m going to have to be switched on, but it can be hard to keep motivated when there’s no fight coming up. I thought I was going to be fighting in February and I had a 10-week training camp for that.

“Six months of inactivity at this point in my career is stupid. I should be having five or six fights a year and to not box for that length of time is hard.

“The more I think about it, maybe I’ve been fast-tracked too quickly, but hopefully soon we can get the ball rolling again. I’m European champion and with a couple more fights I could be boxing for a world title.”

For legal reasons, DeGale is unable to discuss the Warren issue, but he expects the matter to be resolved during the coming weeks.

Provided he can see off the challenge of Sanavia at Frederikshavn’s Nord Arena, DeGale is well aware that speculation will soon resume about the likelihood of a rematch with former Dale Youth ABC rival George Groves, who relieved him of the British title last year.

Groves announced earlier this week that an injury had forced him to withdraw from his WBO world title fight with Robert Stieglitz, which had been scheduled for next month.

A new date for the fight is yet to be announced and DeGale added: “I’m sure if Groves does win it, people will be calling for him to fight me again because they know the rivalry’s there. It’s a genuine rivalry and it’s always going to be there.

“I need more experience but, depending on the situation after a few more fights, let’s see. I’m on my own path and if Groves happens to be on that path as well, I’ll have to deal with him.”

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Read more
Terrific tea, creamy cakes and splendid sandwiches at Mews of Mayfair.

Celebrate a truly quintessentially British tradition with the chance of winning a luxurious Afternoon Tea for two people at Mews of Mayfair, complete with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Read more
Get up close and personal to this global phenomenon!

Following a sell-out 2014 run, the global phenomenon that is Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is back in London, running at the Dominion Theatre in the heart of the West End until 5th September 2015.

Read more