DeGale sets his sights high
James DeGale has warned his rivals that his best is still to come and has vowed to make 2014 HIS year.
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The super-middleweight, 28, fights undefeated Dutchman Gevorg Khatchikan on Saturday in Bristol ahead of a WBC title eliminator against Badou Jack later this year as he continues his quest for a world title, with current champion Sakio Bika his target.
And now free of injury, the 2008 Olympic gold medallist insists that he will earn world honours in style.
"Everything is in place for 2014 to be a massive year for me - it's all in my own hands," DeGale (17-1 11KOs) told sportinglife.com.
"I've got this fight on Saturday and then a final eliminator planned for May so I hope to be a world champion soon and that will be massive.
"I've just kept fighting and allowed my team to decide which route to go down - but the WBC is the most prestigious belt out there and I know it will be mine if I keep on winning.
"But I have to get Saturday out of the way first. Khatchikan is unbeaten but hasn't really fought at this level before. I've seen him in action but I'm looking to impress so I intend to set a good pace on him and I know that if I perform then I'll be the winner.
"I'm on terrestrial TV and there will be one million viewers tuning in to the fight so that's great and I'm out to impress."
Injuries have taken their toll on DeGale in recent months and in December he underwent surgery to correct muscle tears in his lower abdomen that were affecting his performances in the ring.
"If I'm being honest then I've been injured for my last five fights and in the end I had to do something about it," admitted the Londoner.
"I had something called Gilmore's Groin [a muscle tear in the lower abdomen, first identified by the consultant surgeon Jerry Gilmore in 1980, when he operated on the former Tottenham full-back Don McAllister].
"A lot of footballers get it and years ago they had to retire with it so it's serious. I couldn't run or twist, couldn't turn, couldn't train properly. I've been boxing like this for a couple of years but it gradually got worse. I fought, I won but I was just getting through fights.
"I was unable to put the full weight on my legs to get my shots off so you were not seeing the real James DeGale. My performances have been flat and there's been no hype. I'm not making excuses but there were reasons for it.
"I know all boxers say this, but my training camp has been brilliant and that's because I'm now fully fit.
"I've done all the sparring and all the hard miles. It's just a question of getting down to 12st now but it's not a problem.
"The last couple of years you could say have been stop-start but now I'm feeling good and you're going to see the best of me."
DeGale has been forced to play a supporting role to the all the hype surrounding the collision between fellow domestic super-middleweights Carl Froch and George Groves who will fight for a second time on May 31.
DeGale, whose only defeat in the professional ranks came against fellow west Londoner Groves in 2011, insists he would be more than happy to fight either one of them.
"I'll fight the winner ... bring it on!" said DeGale, who still contests that points loss to Groves.
"I'm not in a position to call out anybody yet but potentially there are some huge fights out there for me over the next 12 months.
"If everything goes to plan and I can get this WBC world title then that would be a massive bargaining tool to get me the fights I want.
"I'm fit and raring to go. I want to let my boxing do the talking now."
James Degale is represented by ROAR Sport @ROARSPORT1