James DeGale: Fit and Ready to Avenge a Humiliating Defeat

James “Chunky” DeGale was a 16-to-1 favorite to beat Caleb Truax and retain his IBF super middleweight title when they met this past December at the Copper Box Arena in London. But Truax won! It was the biggest upset of 2017.

Truax soundly beat DeGale although one of the judges had it even. The scorecards (116-112, 115-112, 114-114) reflected the Minnesotan’s stamina and endurance.

DeGale (23-2-1) vows he will not be ambushed when they meet again this Saturday, April 7.

This time around, the fight will be held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, but that will be a neutral site as the college-educated Truax (29-3-2) has done most of his work in Minnesota. In fact, all three of his losses came when he fought outside of that state. He lost to Jermain Taylor in Biloxi, Mississippi, Daniel Jacobs in Chicago, and Anthony Dirrell in Atlantic City.

“Chunky” DeGale is somewhat of a global road warrior having toiled in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Canada, Massachusetts (where he beat Andre Dirrell to win the vacant IBF super middleweight title in May 2015), Washington, D.C., and Barclays Center in Brooklyn. His sole loss prior to the Truax shocker was an MD against the talented George Groves at London’s O2 Arena back in 2011.

“I’d love to [fight in the UK again]. I’m staying until Wednesday – if anybody sees me, buy some pints,” Caleb Truax said after his mammoth upset.

DeGale blames himself for losing his to Truax, claiming that he came back too soon from a shoulder injury: “When the doctor told me that some athletes recover from that injury in six months, I had it set in my mind that I would box again in December… No one was going to tell me otherwise. I rushed my injury and I wasn’t at my full fitness. I can only blame myself.”

“(On April 7) I’m going to make it right…on my best day, no one in this division can beat me. No disrespect to Caleb…but I’m a much better fighter….My mindset at the time was that I can beat Truax with no hands. It was the wrong way to think. I’m an elite fighter and this is a dangerous sport. I’ve only got myself to blame.”

Adding insult to injury (no pun intended), Chunky was subjected to a tweet storm after the fight.

George Groves: “Call it a day, mate, you ain’t got it no more.”

Chris Eubank Jr: “After all the trash talk and disrespectful comments James DeGale you go and put on a display like that! All I can say is WOW! You have properly let down British Boxing #Shameful.”

BBC pundit and elite trainer Adam Booth summed up the disappointment in DeGale’s performance as follows: “An hour ago James was world champion and thinking about unifying belts. Now he’s being asked if he’s a has-been former champion and it’s brutal. It’s easy for us to say we know what he can do and he didn’t do it tonight, so he can’t do it anymore. That’s not necessarily the case.”

As for the humble and highly likable Truax, he said this before their first encounter, “…this dude’s sleepin’ on me. I’m about to ruin his plans and go into his backyard and beat him up.”

And he did just that, almost taking out Chunky in the fifth round where he pounded him along the ropes with brutal shots both upstairs and downstairs.

Later, Truax said on BBC Radio 5 live: “He was sleeping and now he’s going to have nightmares about me.”

This time, DeGale likely will not be sleeping on anyone. He will be fit, ready and prepared for Truax’s incoming pressure approach and heavy hands. This time, he knows what to expect. However, If Caleb hurts DeGale, look for him to walk him down and punish him.

Chunky is now injury-free and ready to regain his title. If he does, it will magnify the enormity of last year’s upset.

Or…will this be another Iran Barkley vs. Thomas Hearns rematch?

Ted Sares is one of the oldest full power lifters (and Strongman competitors) in the world and is a four-time winner of the EPF’s Grand Master championship. He also is a member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame.

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