The former two-time Super Middleweight World Champion and British boxing legend is hanging up the gloves after a storied amateur and professional career.
On the 10-year anniversary of his professional debut, James DeGale has announced his retirement from boxing at the age of 33.
In a statement today, DeGale said: "Today marks 10 years since my professional debut fight on February 28, 2009 and today is the day I am announcing my retirement from boxing.
"It's been an unbelievable journey and I've had an amazing decade - if I'm honest, the best years of my life.
"It's hard to admit that I'm not the fighter I once was, but I'm human and along the way, my injuries have taken a toll - both on my mind and body and these things have contributed to my performance in the ring.
"I lost the fight on Saturday at the O2 but I'm touched to have a good send-off from the fans in my home city.”
DeGale enjoyed one the finest careers in British boxing history, becoming the nation’s first boxer to win an Olympic gold medal and become a world champion.
The fighter affectionately known as “Chunky” was born on February 3, 1986 in West London, England. As a student at the renowned Barbara Speake Stage school, he thrived in both singing and dancing. However, his mischievous behavior ultimately got him expelled.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
DeGale first fell in love with boxing at age nine, when he began his amateur career at Trojan Boxing Club in the Harlesden area of London. At Trojan, trainers began calling him “Chunky” for being what they deemed to be overweight. The name stuck.
So did boxing.
After winning a multitude of tournaments in England, DeGale won the bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth games in Melbourne, Australia. He was chosen to represent Great Britain at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China and became the only member of the British boxing squad to win a gold medal. For this feat, he was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) by Her Majesty, The Queen.
DeGale turned pro on February 28, 2009, defeating Vepkhia Tchilaia via four-round decision in Birmingham. The super middleweight quickly rose through the ranks, winning his first 10 bouts to set up against fellow UK Commonwealth champion George Groves on May 21, 2011.
“ It's been an unbelievable journey and I've had an amazing decade - if I'm honest, the best years of my life. ” Former two-time World Champion - James DeGale
DeGale lost a hotly contested 12-round majority decision. Undeterred, he would win his next 10 bouts. With a world title in his sights, “Chunky” made his US debut on May 23, 2015, versus Andre Dirrell at Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts.
On the line was the vacant IBF super middleweight world title. It was also DeGale’s debut on the Premier Boxing Champions series. The popular Brit turned in the finest performance of his career, dropping the ultra-talented Dirrell twice in the second round on his way to a 12-round decision win and his first world title.
DeGale defended the belt twice—against former world champion Lucian Bute and respected veteran Rogelio Medina—winning both times by unanimous decision.
On January 14, 2017, he took on WBC counterpart Badou Jack in a unification bout at Brooklyn, New York’s Barclays Center. The two world champions produced a Fight of the Year candidate. DeGale dropped Jack in the first and suffered a knockdown in the twelfth in what was a spirited affair. After 12 rounds, one judge scored it in his favor but the other had it even for a draw verdict.
On December 9, 2017, DeGale returned to London to fight the dangerous Caleb Truax at Copper Box Arena. The grueling, bloody affair ended with DeGale losing his title by decision. The rematch occurred on April 7, 2018, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This time, a determined DeGale held off the hard-charging Truax to win a 12-round unanimous decision and his IBF title back.
DeGale made one defense of his title, a third-round KO over Fidel Monterrosa Munoz in September 2018. What was to be his second defense occurred just five days ago, on February 23rd, versus long-time British rival Chris Eubank Jr.
The bout headlined the first PBC on ITV UK event. Eubanks’ youth, speed and power proved too much for DeGale to overcome on this night. He lost via 12-round unanimous decision, to bring his record to 25-3-1 (15 KOs).
"I'm proud to say that I've made history as the first ever British Olympian boxer to turn professional and to win a world title and I am also proud to have been a road warrior - to travel wherever I needed to be to fight and win,” said DeGale. “There's nothing left to prove."
Indeed. PBC wishes to congratulate James DeGale on an amazing boxing career. We wish him well in all future endeavors.
- James DeGale