Punchlines - April 18

British boxing news and gossip, by Nick Parkinson

Last Updated: 25/04/12 10:34am

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James DeGale: Turned down the chance to fight for a world title

James DeGale: Turned down the chance to fight for a world title

Sky Bet

James DeGale fights for the European title on Saturday after turning down the chance to instead challenge WBO champion Robert Stieglitz on May 5.

The London super-middleweight, 26, defends his European belt against Italian Cristian Sanavia, 37, in Denmark after the challenger's promoter won the purse bids. But DeGale was given another option earlier this week when his bitter rival George Groves, who beat him narrowly on points nearly a year ago, was forced to pull out of challenging Stieglitz in Germany on May 5.

Londoner Groves suffered an injury in training and DeGale was contacted to see if he would like to step in. But the 2008 Olympic gold medalist chose to go through with his European title defence and flew out to Denmark on Wednesday.

After six months out of the ring, DeGale says he will re-emerge with a tighter defence against Sanavia, who won the WBC world title eight years ago only to lose it in a first defence.

Degale, whose last outing was a messy points win over Pole Piotr Wilczewski in in October, said: "It has been very frustrating being out for so long. I'm 26 and there are other things that I could be doing. It's a bit annoying but I've got to be switched on and make sure I don't have any more setbacks. I've been working with different sparring partners in the last few months and I've gone back to how I used to box, which is how I won the gold medal."

Quick hits

Anthony Crolla is hoping to win the race to become Manchester's first world champion since Ricky Hatton. 'Million Dollar' Crolla, 25, defends his British lightweight belt against Liverpool's Derry Mathews live on Sky Sports on Saturday and has Welshman Gavin Rees - the European champion - and Scotland's WBO world champion Ricky Burns in his sights.

Hatton - now a promoter since last fighting in 2009 - last held one of the four world title belts in 2007 and Crolla is desperate to be Manchester's next global star.

He said: "It would be a dream to be Ricky's first world champion as a promoter and there's a great chance of it happening later this year. It nearly happened last year with Ricky Burns but my team didn't think it was the right path for me to take.

"The Manchester boxing scene is buzzing again. When Ricky was boxing you also had the likes of Anthony Farnell, Michael Gomez and Michael Brodie in big fights. Now there's a new crop of Manchester boxers and it's going to be an exciting era. I'm going to bring those big fights back to Manchester along with the likes of Scott Quigg and Denton Vassell."

Tyson Fury will box again on June 30, maybe in Manchester, but don't expect to see him in with a Klitschko brother for at least a year. Fury's promoter Mick Hennessy is not shy about singing the praises of the unbeaten Morecambe heavyweight, who stopped Martin Rogan in five rounds in front of 6,000 fans in Belfast on Saturday night.

The Ukrainian siblings are running out of challengers and are now even recycling people they have beaten (Wladimir faces Tony Thompson on July 7, after stopping him in 2008).

But Hennessy admitted to Punchlines that a shot at WBA-IBF-WBO champion Wladimir or WBC title-holder Vitali is not likely this year. He said: "I spoke to the Klitschkos' manager Bernd Boente last year and I've got to do it when the time is right for Tyson. I think it will probably happen in spring next year or even early 2013.

"Tyson needs nurturing fights and we need to look at some American opponents for him. We need to make sure that when Tyson fights for the world title he wipes the floor rather than just turning up."

Fury, who gave up the British title rather than face Liverpool's David Price next, understands Hennessy's point. He said: "It's a long process. I'm going up in the world rankings and Wladimir has mentioned me as a possible future opponent.

"When I win the world title I will hold it. I want to smash one of the brothers and I want to get in there knowing I will do a job on him so I'm not going to rush in. Good things come to those who wait."

Ringside in Belfast last Saturday night was local super-bantamweight Carl Frampton, who will be chief support when Carl Froch takes on Lucian Bute for the IBF world super-middleweight title in Nottingham on May 26.

Frampton was a popular figure at the Odyssey Arena at the weekend and promoters Matchroom also plan on getting the unbeaten Commonwealth champion out at a big show in Belfast in September which may also feature Paul McCloskey and Martin Lindsay.

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