JAMES DEGALE was left feeling old when he saw Daniel Dubois for the first time in nine years on Monday.
The world’s number one super-middleweight did a double take when he saw Dubois sitting next to him at their packed London press conference.
DeGale was kicking his heels and couldn’t put a name to the face, then remembered that Dubois was the “gap toothed” kid who used to look up to him at Dale Youth ABC.
DeGale might have the IBF world title, but it’s Dubois who now towers DeGale, standing 6ft 5in tall and weighing 17 stone even though he’s more than 11 years his junior.
It was the first time they had met since DeGale returned to his old amateur club and showed off the 2008 Olympic gold medal he won in Beijing.
Dubois, who was 11-years old at the time, recalled that he was allowed to touch the medal and feel it’s chunky weight. From that day he always wanted to emulate DeGale’s brilliant success.
Now they both box on Frank Warren’s ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ bill at London’s Copper Box Arena on December 9th, which DeGale headlines.
Dubois faces Welshman Dorian Darch, while DeGale makes the fourth defence of his world title and is back where it all started as a professional under Warren’s promotional banner.
The Londoner split with Warren in 2011, a move which will have disappointed the promoter, initially.
Now Warren has spoken with DeGale’s advisor Al Haymon and to door is open for him to stage a series of career defining fights for the boxer.
DeGale has recovered from shoulder surgery and provided he comes through December’s defence, a big London April unification against WBC champion David Benavidez is possible.
The winner of the World Boxing Super Series is also an obvious target for DeGale who is back home after making big noises in the United States.
The competition has been great viewing, but whoever is standing as WBSS champion when the competition ends cannot claim they are the world’s best 168lb boxer until they face DeGale.
DeGale isn’t risking money but believes Callum Smith will come out on top in that competition although he will be rooting for his old rival George Groves despite not standing the sight of each other.
No hype needed, the ill-feeling is for real and DeGale would retire a happy man if he got revenge for his controversial points defeat against Groves in May 2011 and another loss when they were Dale Youth club mates.
It is a huge, huge fight for both men. Lucrative, pay-per-view value and made for a London football stadium.
Dale Youth doesn’t just develop special boxers like DeGale, Dubois, Groves and produced more than 100 hundred national title winners, it shares the trio's fighting spirit.
The club was totally ravaged by fire in June’s tragic Grenfell Tower disaster, but fought back and opened at a new HQ in nearby Ladbroke Grove last month after many thought it was out for the count.
The West London outfit is run by resilient people.
DeGale is just as determined to prove that despite career threatening injuries that the only thing he is ready for is even bigger fights, paydays and a legacy we never forget.
WHILE boxers can look forward to Christmas paydays in the coming weeks spare a thought for Manchester super-featherweight Kallum De’ath.
Kallum, 28, is being treated for cancer and currently undergoing chemotherapy. With no income when you have a partner and three children, life his tough.
When news of Kallum’s illness became public boxing rallied round. His manager Steve Wood and trainer, Steve Maylett are planning a fundraiser.
One of the first people to contact me offering to donate something was Billy Joe Saunders who trained with Kallum when they were youngsters on national squads.
De’ath was on the short list to go to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but grew disillusioned when he was snubbed by England despite a string of top wins and national titles.
Despite a stop-start pro career he has been busier since joining Wood and Maylett and had been due to face Alex Rutter for the Central Area title.
Kallum who has won 11 of his 12 outings last boxed in March. Everybody at BoxNation is thinking of him and backing the boxer to win his biggest fight yet.