By Mark Whalley
2008 Olympic gold medallist and current WBC Silver super-middleweight champion James DeGale will make his first appearance on North American soil on May 17, fighting an as-yet unnamed opponent in Gatineau, Canada.
The slick southpaw, nicknamed “Chunky”, will be making the first defence of the title that he won against tough Colombian Fulgencio Zuniga in December last year.
Since then, he has seen a March battle with Alexander Brand fall through.
DeGale has endured somewhat of a rollercoaster career since turning professional in the aftermath of his Beijing heroics.
Perceived by many to be arrogant, he was booed in his professional debut – usually an occasion where medallists can bask in the appreciation and adulation of fight fans eager to see how they handle the transition to the pro ranks.
But his ascent over the following two years was impressive until it hit a major roadblock in the form of bitter rival “Saint” George Groves, who won a majority decision in a gripping fight in May 2011.
The aftermath has seen Groves receive more spotlight than DeGale, and culminated in Groves joining a Frank Warren stable that already included DeGale.
The perceived slight resulted in DeGale switching to Hennessy Sports, who have since promoted him in several successful European-level fights.
This latest move is another step towards world level, with a number of options available should he triumph.
The most intriguing, of course, would be a world title showdown with Groves, who is angling for a shot at current WBO super-middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz.