James DeGale tipped for super-middleweight world title glory by Leon McKenzie
By Dev Trehan. Last Updated: 05/03/14 10:51am
Janes DeGale: Tipped to become a world champion
James DeGale has been tipped to become a world champion sooner rather than later by one of his recent sparring partners, Premier League footballer-turned-boxer Leon McKenzie.
DeGale stopped Gevorg Khatchikian on Saturday and was expected to face Badou Jack in a title eliminator for the right to face WBC champion Sakio Bika.
But Jack lost to Derek Edwards on Friday prompting DeGale's promoter Mick Hennessy and the British Board of Boxing Control to make representation to the WBC for the Londoner to be made mandatory challenger.
And McKenzie says DeGale, who is bidding to become the first British Olympic gold medallist to become a world champion, is a vastly-improved fighter right at the top of his game.
"I sparred James DeGale recently and he's immense," the former Crystal Palace and Norwich City striker told skysports.com.
"He's definitely the best person I've sparred with in regards to his ability and I really do think he will win a world title pretty soon.
"The James DeGale I'm seeing at the moment, the James DeGale I'm sparring with, is totally different to the James DeGale I sparred with when I first turned pro.
"He's had a few injury problems and everything else but let me tell you now he is frightening, absolutely frightening he really is.
"For me, he's at world level now and I hope he goes on to win a world title, I really do, because he is ridiculously good."
The undefeated McKenzie is set for the fourth fight of his professional when he takes on Bulgarian Nikola Varbanov at Bethnal Green's York Hall this weekend.
McKenzie insists he is now ready to step up a level but admits time is not on his side if he is to claim a title in the super-middleweight division.
"Preparations and training have gone really well and my weight is pretty much bang on," he said. "I'm feeling good and hopefully I can show what I'm capable of and show some class in the ring.
"This is my last four-rounder. We're going to step up to a six-rounder then an eight and push on from there.
"The super-middleweight division is one of the toughest around but I've got ability and I can fight so it's not going to be easy for anyone to beat me.
"Ideally I want to win something, whether that be a Southern Area title or an English title. Of course that's a massive task but you can never say never.
"I'd love to win something bigger than that but you have to be a realist as well and I'm not a young man in boxing terms.
"When you're at this sort of age you never know when it's going to be your last fight. I'm coming up to 36 and I only really turned to boxing last year. If I'd started at 26 who knows where I'd be today?"