James “Chunky” DeGale feels he is “just too good” for 35-year-old former titleholder Lucian Bute and expects to end the career of the Quebec native in front of his fans in Quebec City where they are scheduled to clash Nov. 28 on Showtime.
“He is still a good boxer and he told me he wants the belt back,” DeGale said at a London press conference. “But trust me; I am too young, too fresh and just too good.”
A native of London, DeGale (21-1, 14 KO’s) will be traveling across the proverbial pond to defend his recently acquired IBF title for the first time. Bute (32-2, 25 KO’s) held that very same title from 2007 to 2012 until his reign was ended by Carl Froch, who since twice defeating DeGale’s rival “Saint” George Groves, Froch strolled off into retirement leaving the title up for grabs.
DeGale won the vacant IBF title against American Andre Dirrell in May by unanimous decision and is coming off eleven straight victories since losing to Groves in a close contest in 2011.
The six-foot tall southpaw from the U.K. insists that he is unbeatable and that he’s looking forward to going into Bute’s backyard to take on “an elite fighter”. He seems to take pride in traveling overseas in search of available opponents, unlike his countryman Kell Brook who has been accused of holding the IBF welterweight belt ransom fighting strictly in his native U.K.
Jim McDonnell, the head trainer for DeGale believes that his man is unique in his willingness to travel and fight, taking the “rough path” as he put it.
“James is different. He did everything on the rough path: being an Olympic champion, winning the British title in his ninth fight and becoming world champion in the United States,” McDonnell said. “The more pressure he has, the better he is.”
The pressure may be more on his opponent who is looking to reignite an old flame that fighters struggle to part with: being a champion. While Bute is sure to be the hometown favorite he already suffered a devastating defeat in front of that same crowd at the hands of his countryman Jean Pascal.
Bute is only one fight removed from that twelve-round Clash for Canada that Pascal won by unanimous decision and another loss might be career-threatening. Still, DeGale shows class giving the former title-holder a shot at regaining his old belt and more still by traveling, this time as champion. A five-year reign is not easy to accomplish and in a way this seems like a fitting fight for the torch to be passed to a new, young champ.
However at 35, Bute is not the fighter he once was and a win over him will be a win over a name only not a top-tier challenger. Then again, the super middleweight division is currently going through a thinning-of-the-heard process with Froch retired and Andre Ward potentially stepping up to light heavyweight, the landscape is prime for a young-gun to take the top spot.
“There is no one in this division who can beat me,” DeGale said. “I’m willing to box anyone. I want to fight all the big fighters in the biggest fights.”
Not many “big” fighters are left for DeGale, however, there is WBO champion Arthur Abraham held up in Germany and DeGale doesn’t seem to mind venturing out to foreign countries to challenge for titles. Then there’s WBC champion Badou Jack, who recently defeated DeGale’s archenemy Groves and before that Anthony Dirrell, the brother of Andre Dirrell, who DeGale beat for the title.
But while big match-ups loom in the future, DeGale must first get past Bute whose renowned power demands respect even from young champions eager to create their own legacy, but don’t tell that to DeGale.
“My journey is only just starting,” boasted the champion and “his (Bute’s) is about to end in November.”