“Chunky” Invades America; DeGale Sees Rumble With Dirrell

James-DeGale

He was ten, and thought it a good idea to try his hand at boxing. James DeGale walked into a North London Gym, and a coach there took a look at him.

He was tagged “Chunky,” immediately, and the nickname stuck, while he advanced as an amateur, won a gold medal for England (2008) and advanced to being on the cusp of winning a world championship, at 168 pounds.”I was chubby, yeah,” the 20-1 (14 Kos) hitter told me, “but basically, I was fat and the trainer didn't want to be rude to me.”

Many US fight fans haven't seen Chunky, whose sole loss came to a 12-0 George Groves in 2012, doing his thing. They will be coming cold to the TV or the arena in Boston where the Brit, who checked in from Miami, before trekking to Beantown in the AM, will be facing Andre Dirrell (24-1 with 16 KOs; age 31). So I asked him to give me a self-scouting report…

A 29-year-old boxer who switches stances, he told me. “I show a little bit of everything,” he stated. “But don't underestimate me, when I have to get down and dirty I will.” His strongest hand is his right, he reports, and he feels basically as comfortable fighting righty or lefty. Chunky thinks highly of the Michiganer Dirrell, telling me that he thinks he and the US man have similar styles. He believes with so much on the line and with both men being so confident, the styles will mesh nicely, however, on a scrap which is part of the PBC series, and will run on NBC (4:30 PM ET) in the US. (And on SKY, in prime-time, in the UK).

“Dirrell is very, very good and has a good pedigree and his record speaks for itself. He's a tall southpaw, he can switch, he's similar to me. But I've seen weaknesses, faults.”

Such as he incurred brain damage in a 2010 fight vs. Arthur Abraham and took time off to heal up…”Yep, that's a weird one, he had that long layoff. And his last four opponents haven't been world class, guys not near me, he's jumping up in class, from glorified journeyman to a former gold medallist!”

DeGale told me he's quite well known in the UK, with a “love him or hate him” persona. I told him that seems maybe a bit strange, he seems pleasant to me. I told him I see the same thing with Amir Khan. What's up with that? “I'm like Marmite,” he said. “It's weird, the fight fans there can be a bit weird sometimes. But I got my fans, and the fans there come together, and will back me fully when I come back to England with that world title. It's been like a dream for me, to fight in America for a world title. My prediction? I'm obviously gonna win,” he said, not in a brash or too cocky way, “and I want to be the first gold winner to win a world title. If I have to box I will, if I have to fight, I will. I think Dirrell thinks it'll be a boxing match…I don't think it is. I think he struggles with inside work, when it gets hard. I don't think he likes it like that, and maybe I have to rough him up.”

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COMMENTS

-deepwater2 :

I favor Degale if hometown cooking isn't served. Degale has to rough him up and apply pressure


-gibola :

Let's see what happens if Dirrell hits and holds all night - a few weeks ago his brother got warned by the ref after 2 or 3 rounds and the fight changed and he lost his title. If the ref allows Dirrell to jump in with one punch and hold all night it could be tricky for DeGale. If the fight is allowed to flow and there is a decent pace, DeGale throws a lot more punches than Dirrell. I'm not convinced about Dirrell, he would have beaten Froch if he'd shown the desire to throw punches and not just hold, spoil and throw the odd counter. A lot depends on the ref but I go for DeGale on points.


-Skibbz :

Agreed with both you guys I think Dirrell will be lookin to spoil his way to some home cooking, but knowing James he's coming for one thing and that's the belt. He knows the value and life changing effects of a belt and he feels it's his time. These opportunities don't come around too often, and his team have drummed that into his thick gooner skull. Solid amateur pedigree to boot. Should be a good night of boxing.


-oubobcat :

Tough, tough fight to call. I think Dirrell is the better fighter overall and more skilled. But he also has been matched very well since coming back and has had opponents in front of him that made him look like an elite fighter. How will he do when he does not enter the ring with the result all but pre-determined? I also wonder about the effects of the Abraham fight and we have not seen Dirrell really in tough since that fight. He was though rocked by Dereck Edwards in the 12th round of his last fight on the only punch that landed clean and that makes me wonder... DeGale is a very good fighter. He is very well schooled and technically sound. He may be a step behind Dirrell in athleticism and speed but not far behind. My gut feeling has swung from Dirrell initially towards DeGale. I don't think Dirrell has recovered from the Abraham fight both physically and mentally. I think DeGale will be more active and see him landing more flush punches than Dirrell. So the question will be unlike a couple weeks ago if the fighter from across the pond can win a decision against a Haymon fighter in the US? I have faith (maybe too much but I do) that if DeGale does do more as I suspect he will the judging will be fair.


-stormcentre :

Tough, tough fight to call. I think Dirrell is the better fighter overall and more skilled. But he also has been matched very well since coming back and has had opponents in front of him that made him look like an elite fighter. How will he do when he does not enter the ring with the result all but pre-determined? I also wonder about the effects of the Abraham fight and we have not seen Dirrell really in tough since that fight. He was though rocked by Dereck Edwards in the 12th round of his last fight on the only punch that landed clean and that makes me wonder... DeGale is a very good fighter. He is very well schooled and technically sound. He may be a step behind Dirrell in athleticism and speed but not far behind. My gut feeling has swung from Dirrell initially towards DeGale. I don't think Dirrell has recovered from the Abraham fight both physically and mentally. I think DeGale will be more active and see him landing more flush punches than Dirrell. So the question will be unlike a couple weeks ago if the fighter from across the pond can win a decision against a Haymon fighter in the US? I have faith (maybe too much but I do) that if DeGale does do more as I suspect he will the judging will be fair.
Yes, good post and pretty much echoes what I think OBC. Dirrell is definitely the better skilled fighter. Dirrell was also sparring and schooling, I think it was, Groves before he fought DeGale too. But, what happens when DeGale steps on the pressure? If Andre can handle that and still pick of DeGale with all the openings and vulnerabilities that James has for someone with the speed and style to capitalise; then Dirrell will come of age. If not, then Dirrell will be in trouble as whilst DeGale may well be a step behind Dirrell in athleticism and speed, he probably leads in power and durability. There's a few unknowns to be really confident, but Dirrell's lefty stance, defence and speed, may also present issues for DeGale; as could James' tenacity and power, and of course James is not without skills either. This should be a good fight.


-stormcentre :

There is also the fact that Dirrell has - depending on your view and whether you believe it was a robbery or not - still, pretty much not just outsmarted Froch when they fought, but also withstood Carl's onslaught, in Carl's hometown. And, Froch was the guy that beat Groves, whom beat DeGale, and Groves was schooled in sparring by Dirrell. A championship prepared and form Froch would steamroll DeGale in my opinion. Read into all that what you will. :)


-The Commish :

For those of you who may find themselves in their car during this intriguing match, you'll still be able to hear it. If you have SiriusXM, turn it on and catch my blow-by-blow account of the fight, along with Gerry Cooney. You'll be able to hear the action on SiriusXM channel 92. Hope you can join us. -Randy G


-brownsugar :

ThanksCommish... I'm as intrigued as I am perplexed. Dirrell has been very inactive except for a few tune ups. Degale is young , hungry and has been in tough by comparision. Its hard for me to gauge Dirrell's level of dedication since he was last seen collecting splinters due to riding the pines with SMS promotions ..... until he finally got released because he wasn't being matched against anyone. The fact that he even signed with Curtis Jackson makes me want to ask more questions. I just hope he's ready.