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European champion James DeGale ready for career relaunch

15:35 10 October 2012

James DeGale spars with Joe Duffy

James DeGale spars with Joe Duffy

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James DeGale is eagerly savouring a “fresh start” to his career as he gears up for his debut with a new promoter this weekend.

The European super-middleweight champion from Harlesden has signed a four-year contract with Hennessy Sports following a lengthy and messy dispute with rival promoter Frank Warren.

Now DeGale says he can finally focus on boxing again and the immediate issue of a title defence against French number one Hadillah Mohoumadi on Saturday at Glow, Bluewater.

“This is a fresh start, a new chapter in my career and it’s exciting,” the 26-year-old told london24.com. “I’ve got a good team around me and at last I’ve got a path, I’ve got focus again.

“A mutual friend introduced me to Mick [Hennessy] and we got along well. I spoke to a few other people overseas, but this deal was the best one – it just feels right.

“Six months ago I didn’t know what was happening – there was the hearing with Frank and it was all driving me mad. Now I can concentrate on my boxing and that’s the main thing.

“The French guy’s tough, strong and athletic – from what I’ve seen of him, he looks in good shape and he’s had nine knockouts from 13 wins, so I’m certainly not expecting a walkover.

“I’ve had some hard sparring recently and I’ve been practising a few things. Now I’m feeling sharp and switched on and I’ll be ready come Saturday.”

The 12-round contest will be screened live on Channel 5 – something the former Olympic gold medallist believes will help to put him back in the public eye after a frustrating spell of inactivity.

DeGale has had just one outing since he seized the European belt from Piotr Wilczewski almost a year ago – a low-profile defence against Cristian Sanavia that was held in Denmark and shown on Warren’s BoxNation subscription channel.

And, although he turned down an 11th-hour opportunity to fight for the WBO world title against Robert Stieglitz after his old rival George Groves pulled out due to injury, DeGale is confident that a similar opening is not too far away.

“That offer was very last-minute,” he recalled. “The fight would have been a few days later and the situation just wasn’t right. What’s gone on outside the ring has held me back.

“A lot of people think my last fight was against George Groves [in May 2011] because they haven’t seen me on TV since then, even though I’ve had two big fights against Wilczewski and Sanavia.

“It’s all about being active. Being on terrestrial TV with Channel 5 is a big factor as well – hopefully my profile will go right through the roof.

“Next year I want to do five fights, easily, then I believe I’ll be boxing for a world title. This time next year I’ll be a world champion or on the verge of it.”

Mohoumadi, 32, has won 13 of his 16 previous fights and became French champion earlier this year, although he has never yet triumphed outside his home country.

His most recent outing, in Montenegro, ended in a points defeat to Nikola Sjekloca – while the only other loss on his record came two years ago, at the hands of Sanavia.

Saturday’s bill includes the clash between Lenny Daws and Finland’s Ville Piispanen for the European light-welterweight title, as well as bouts involving middleweight Chris Eubank Jr and super-bantamweight Kid Galahad.

Tickets, priced from £30, are available from the Hennessy Sports box office on 01925 755 222, Ticketline (0844 888 4402) or Ticketmaster (0844 847 2500).

Alternatively, visit www.hennessysports.com.

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