Can James Degale win a world title to break the curse of British boxing?
On Saturday night James ‘Chunky’ Degale vows to write British boxing history in his fight with American Andre Dirrell for the IBF super middleweight world title in Boston.
Degale was one of the 2008 Beijing Olympics pack that saw him win and bring back a Gold medal, which is largely viewed as the pinnacle of the unpaid code.
An Olympic boxing gold medal, however, has proved no guarantee to world title success for Brits.
Since the Second World War six British men have won Olympic boxing gold medals – but none of them have gone on to capture a world title in the professional ranks.
Who will break the British curse?
“I’m obsessed with making history,” said DeGale, ahead of his title clash this weekend.
“He’s tricky, talented and confident but I’m doing it for my country.”
Audley Harrison is perhaps the most well-known to fulfill this British boxing curse after winning heavyweight Gold in Sydney 2000 Olympics, but went on to have mixed fortunes as a pro – finally fighting and losing to fellow Brit David Haye in a fight for the WBA heavyweight title in 2010.
Chris Finnegan also won Olympic gold in 1968 in Mexico City, and went on to lose to the Legendary American Bob Foster for the world light-heavyweight title in 1972.
Degale has registered only one loss since turning over to the paid ranks in 2009, a narrow decision against longterm nemesis and former amateur club-mate, George Groves, in a fight that could really have been scored either.
This is Degale’s chance to break this longstanding curse and to capture the highest professional accolade – but how do the two talented southpaw boxers compare?
Dirrell has himself only recorded one loss as a professional, a close and controversial decision in Nottingham to Britain’s Carl Froch in 2009, the year Degale started out as a pro.
“It’s a chance that I can’t let slip,” said DeGale, “People aren’t going to give me opportunities again, because I’m too good – no-one is going to fight me for a voluntary defense.”
Who wants it more?
After switching promoters from Mick Hennessy in 2014, Degale looks to have improved from having a lackadaisical approach in the ring, to looking awesome and more motivated in stopping his last three opponents.
Dirrell on the other hand – while an extremely talented technician – has in the past looked as though he lacks a certain grit that is often reserved for world champions or legendary brawlers.
In round 11 after he started out solid against hard punching Arthur Abraham in 2010, the pressure was on and Abraham was hunting him around the ring, Dirrell took a knee, which Abraham exploited with a foul punching Dirrell while down.
In what looked like an afterthought, a delayed knockout at least – possibly an easy way out – Dirrell appeared to voluntarily sprawl himself on the canvass. Only Dirrell knows how that punch affected him – but it did look dubiously staged.
Speaking before his world title showdown, Dirrell said: “I’m much hungrier than I was early in my career and more focused mentally.”
“He feels like he’s an undefeated fighter, I feel like I’m an undefeated fighter. But we both have a lot to prove. I know I’m faster. I know I’m smarter and I know I’m a better boxer. It’s just as simple as that.”
Most bookies have the pair split down the middle on points so we can at least expect a good, even fight. But Paddy Power, despite infamous Brit Curse, slightly favour the Degale at 8/11.Twenty quid at these odds will give you a return of £35.
Under pressure though there is no doubt that Dirrell starts to feel uncomfortable – and this may be his undoing. If a one-dimensional Abraham got to the American by round 10, then we can expect Degale to do the same.
A Dirrell stoppage win at £10 would see a £55 return, while Degale by stoppage at the same order would see a return of £50. At all times, protect your losses by signing up to Gamblingdeals.com.