James DeGale wants to make two things very clear: First, he has huge respect for Rogelio Medina, his next opponent. Second, he insists Medina is merely a stepping stone to his ultimate goal—namely, total domination of the 168-pound weight class.
DeGale (22-1, 14 KOs) has racked up a dozen straight wins since his solitary loss by a wafer-thin points decision to George Groves five years ago. And while the Londoner is a heavy favorite to extend that winning streak to 13 when he defends his 168-pound title against Medina (36-6, 30 KOs) on April 30 at DC Armory in Washington, D.C. (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT), he is adamant he will not be treating the Mexican as an easy pay day.
“Boxing is full of shocks, and I am not banking on becoming one of them,” James DeGale says. “Fighters can sometimes turn up at only 90 percent, and they then get beat. That’s not the way I go about my business. I am in it 100 percent all the way to become the undisputed best at super middleweight. That has been my aim for years now, ever since I turned pro, and although there have been one or two setbacks along the way, I am on the right road.”
The road continues with Rogelio Medina, who comes into this bout riding his own winning streak: He’s won his last four fights, all by knockout, the most recent being a second-round stoppage of Samuel Miller last May. Granted, none of the opponents Medina has faced are on DeGale’s level, but the champion is nonetheless wary of the challenger’s power.
“Medina is a good fighter. Just look at his record,” DeGale says. “You can say he has lost a few times, but he has also knocked out 30 opponents in a professional ring, so he is no mug.”
DeGale traveled to the United States on Monday for a final week of full training before his clash with 27-year-old Medina. It will be his first scrap since scoring a comfortable unanimous decision over Lucian Bute in Quebec City on November 28. That marked DeGale’s first defense of the 168-pound world title he won last May when he defeated Andre Dirrell by unanimous decision.
Prior to facing Dirrell and Bute, DeGale had only once fought in North America, and that was in May 2013 when he knocked out Sebastian Demers in the second round.
“I had a great time fighting on the other side of the water when beating Andre Dirrell and Lucian Bute, so I have no trouble fighting away from home again,” DeGale says. “I’ll fight wherever the big fights are made. It doesn’t matter to me—although obviously I would love to fight in London again soon.”
A 2008 Olympic champion, DeGale has been in blistering form since losing to Groves by a majority decision. Not only has he had his hand raised 12 consecutive times, but all but one of those wins came by stoppage or unanimous decision.
And even though he turned 30 in February, the 6-foot southpaw is convinced his best is still to come.
“I don’t think the age thing is that important nowadays; it is how you look after yourself in and out of the gym,” says DeGale, whose nickname “Chunky” is a reference to his days as a heavy-set child. “I eat well, I train hard and I never leave a stone unturned.”
Assuming DeGale gets past Medina on April 30, he’ll likely stick around to catch the main event between fellow 168-pound titleholder Badou Jack (20-1-1, 12 KOs) and Bute (32-3, 25 KOs). That’s because the winners of the two contests are set to face each other in a title unification bout later this year.
So while DeGale knows he’ll have his hands full with Medina, he’s also eager to get his hands on his subsequent opponent.
“I boxed Marco Antonio Periban [in November 2014] and knocked him out in double quick time, but Badou Jack could only draw against [Periban in September 2013],” DeGale says. “If Jack wins, I would take him out; I’m super confident of that. And if it is Bute again, I’ll beat him for a second time—only this time I will stop him.
“There is still plenty more to come from me. I have beaten most of the top names out there and will continue to knock them over, one by one, until the day I retire.”
For complete coverage of DeGale vs Medina, check out our fight page.