James DeGale has admitted “everything caught up with him” after losing his IBF super-middleweight crown to Caleb Truax, revealing he was “so close” to calling time on his professional career.
American Truax produced one of the biggest shocks in boxing history when he got the better of the Olympic gold medallist via a points decision back in December 2017.
DeGale, 33, regained his crown four months later, but the two-time world champion, speaking ahead of his huge grudge match this weekend with Chris Eubank Jr, couldn’t process the defeat at first and felt the time had come to hang up his gloves.
He told talkSPORT: “I’ve overcome a lot in my career and come through the other side.
“But after Truax I thought that was it. Everything had just caught up with me.
“The injuries, the emotions of everything, people don’t realise how hard this sport is – it’s so demanding.
“My family were worried about me. I was struggling man. I was so down.”
He continued: “I’ve put so much into this sport and made so many sacrifices along the way.
“That’s why that defeat was so hard to accept. After all I’ve achieved in my career I didn’t expect something like that to happen.
“A defence of my world title was on the line and I didn’t get the job done. Emotionally that took a lot out of me.
“People look at me and think ‘this guy’s so cocky and all this’. They don’t see what goes on behind the scenes.
“I am a human being at the end of the day, I have feelings like everyone else.”
There is no love lost between Eubank Jr and DeGale. Back in 2012, the Brits engaged in a heated sparring session and, as they say, the rest is history.
Eubank Jr suggested in a tweet he “schooled the European champ” – a claim DeGale denies.
A war of words were again exchanged between the pair during Thursday’s press conference in London.
‘Chunky’ insists he has too much for the former IBO super-middleweight title holder, who he says is banking on him being past his best.
“The way I’m feeling now, I truly believe no one can beat me,” he explained.
“He’s hoping that I’m finished, unfortunately for Chris I’m not.
“I am in the best shape I’ve been in for a long time, but he can think what he wants.
“I’m on a different level to him. I’ve boxed at an elite level for the majority of my career. Every time Chris has stepped up he’s fallen short. That’s a fact.
“I’ve got Jr telling me I don’t live the life, what is he on? I’m an Olympic goal medallist and two-time world champion, what’s he ever done?
“The confidence of that kid is actually frightening; his old man even said he’s “petrified” his own son won’t turn up? What does that tell you?
“I’m going to turn up and it’s going to be a comfortable points victory for me.
“Yeah, he’s a durable guy, he’s got a good chin but there’s no chance he’s beating me. He’s not good enough, and that’s that.”