In my mind, he's there with me winning the world title.
Not 24 hours removed from the plane having returned home with the IBF World super-middleweight championship, ┬áJames DeGale spoke to Balls about his now famous tribute to the late Irish Olympian Darren Sutherland, his historic victory over Andre Dirrell in Boston last Saturday, and why he felt his chance to win a world title was never going to come. (Full interview at bottom of page)
The first fighter to ever win both Olympic gold for Great Britain and a legitimate world championship in the professional ranks, James 'Chunky' DeGale also had Ireland on his side as he faced off against American Andre Dirrell in Boston last weekend.
The discovery of Londoner's radar-slipping tribute to former opponent, the late Darren Sutherland, changed many Irish perceptions of the flashy Brit, and DeGale's dressing room dedication of his long-awaited world title to his one-time rival will certainly raise the hair at the back of your neck.
'Chunky' told Balls of his admiration for Sutherland as an adversary, and how the electric Dub gave him a rough introduction to the international amateur scene:
The newly crowned IBF champ at 168 pounds also spoke of his encounters with the Irish Olympic bronze medallist outside of the ring, suggesting that 'Dazzler' could at times seem slightly distant, but was one of the most genuine men in the sport.
The champ continued, explaining how having the entertaining Dub's initials on his trunks encourages him inside the squared circle, and how his now famed tribute was simply a mark of respect for a man who he feels was 'there with him' as he was finally crowned world champion in Boston last Saturday night.
The full 'Chunky' interview, including DeGale's thoughts on why he believed his world title chance would never come, why he "cruised" in the middle rounds of the historic victory over Dirrell itself, and potential Wembley showdowns with old nemesis George Groves and fellow champ Carl Froch, can be listened to here: