James DeGale hopes to set up a unification bout with domestic rival George Groves later in the year, and believes that the public’s perception of the pair has changed.
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DeGale faces Andre Dirrell for the IBF super-middleweight title in Boston on May 23, while Groves is hopeful of securing a shot at the WBC strap which is currently being held by the younger of the Dirrell brothers, Anthony.
If both men are successful in their bids to become world champions, they have insisted that it would naturally lead to a rematch after Groves secured a win in their first meeting back in 2011.
DeGale isn’t underestimating or overlooking Dirrell in the slightest, but he admits that he is excited about the prospect of having an opportunity to take a step towards unifying the division against his bitter rival.
“After that defeat, for a year, it did bother me that I’ve got a loss on my record to him. But you move on – I’ve had 10 fights since then, won the European title, boxed top 10 contenders, and now I’m boxing for the world title,” DeGale told Sky Sports.
The 29-year-old conceded after that loss that he disappeared as Groves mocked him while he was fighting away from Sky Sports and in smaller venues.
However, DeGale has built real momentum over the last 10 months after signing with Matchroom, during which time he has boxed and won at Wembley and defeated Marco Antonio Periban in Liverpool last November.
He now believes that the public’s opinion of him is changing, and while the Olympic gold medallist is enjoying finding new fans, he believes people are now realising what Groves is really like after his failed attempt at defeating Carl Froch.
“The roles have reversed. Last time, I was the villain but people are starting to find out about George Groves.”
DeGale is already in training camp for his world title fight and will likely fly out to the USA a few weeks before his clash with Dirrell.