Exclusive: Free agent James DeGale discusses ‘mashed up’ shoulder recovery, future options

Joe Hewlett 17/08/2017

Amanda Westcott

James DeGale has informed WBN he’s firmly on the comeback trail after recovering from a long-term shoulder injury.

The British Olympian and current world title holder admitted the extent of the ‘niggle’ was a lot more serious than he had anticipated.

“The past couple of months I’ve been getting my shoulder sorted, it was pretty bad. At first, I thought I had to have an operation to scrape some inflammation out and tighten up some ligaments but in the end my shoulder was smashed up,” the IBF super-middleweight champion exclusively told World Boxing News.

“When I woke up the doc said it was bigger than expected, I had 180-degree tear around my shoulder, then my AC (acromioclavicular) needed stabilising and I had a tear in my rotator cuff as well so it was pretty mashed up,” he added.

‘Chunky’ last fought in January against the former WBC holder Badou Jack and revealed he nearly pulled out of the fight as his shoulder had deteriorated worse than he could have ever imagined weeks before what turned out to be a spectacular fight.

“When I won the world title I had a little niggle in my arm, it didn’t really feel that bad. When I boxed Bute, I was having physio and whatever so in the fight I was letting my shots go, throwing a few combinations and I looked alright. But in the Medina fight, for that camp I had a spar and stop a few rounds because whenever I threw a hook it hurt,” he explained.


“A few days later, it felt better and ended up boxing. You could see that I weren’t as sharp and then the Badou Jack fight happened.

“That camp was hell, I announced the fight, went into training and I just couldn’t hook properly, I felt like I had no control of it, it was aching.

“It all dawned on me when I was training in Miami and I couldn’t use my right hand properly. It’s me being me, every single time I have a niggle, I think, ‘I’m alright,’ but it’s been over the past couple of years and it proved so in my last fight.

“Every time I was having injections it felt like it was getting better but then a couple of days later the pain would come back,” DeGale stressed.

However, the 31-year-old from London is optimistic of fighting again before the year ends and will jet out to the States to have talks with promoting mogul Al Haymon.

“I’m going to Las Vegas next week to watch the fight so I’ll meet with Al Haymon and will be talking to him then and see what we can do going forward.

“There’s a lot of options out there. There could be the Dirrell rematch, David Benavidez and Ronald Gavril are fighting for the world title so maybe I get that fight or a mandatory in the top-10 and get back into it.”

DeGale is currently a free agent after his deal with Matchroom expired. He has refused to rule out working with Eddie Hearn in the foreseeable future.

He concluded: “I’m not too sure, everything is up in the air, I’m a free agent now but all I want is to be in the big fights. I want to fight the champions, the best fighters out there, the kudos, whoever people want me to fight I will fight.”

Joe Hewlett is lead writer for World Boxing News. Follow Joe on Twitter @Hewlett95