Nelson: DeGale has it all to lose

14 05 2011

From Skysports.com

I hope the red mist has cleared for James DeGale because if he loses to George Groves, I fear for him. I really do.

Of course in terms of age he is young enough to come back but mentally I wonder what losing will do to him.

No fighter I can think of has been under this much pressure after only 10 procfessional fights. I can’t think of anyone who has been in this situation, where his confidence, his performance and his ego are being scrutinised so early in his career.

DeGale will be ashamed if he loses to Groves, I am certain. He will have been going to bed at night thinking of how bad it felt when he lost to him in the amatuers and he will be dreading having to go through all that again.

He looked a mug back then and if it happens again here, he’ll look an even bigger mug.

Part of that is down tothe way he has behaved in the build-up, but part of it is also because he has that Olympic gold medal and the expectations that go with it.

Even Amir Khan, who brought our only medal back from Athens in 2004, didn’t have to live with that burden – and he had it tough enough.

The only situation I can equate it to that I am aware of is Nigel Benn’s career. When he lost to Michael Watson he had leave the country and when he lost to Chris Eubank he did the same.

He couldn’t bear being in England, it was that painful, that hard to take. And I know Eubank and Benn both say they’re cool now, I don’t believe that; deep down. I am sure Benn is still fuming.

I remember when my old mate Herol Graham beat Mark Kaylor and it had a similar effect on him; he was the tough lad from East End who had lost to an absolute fancy dan in Herol. Kaylor boxed again but never won a big fight and was just never the same.

Pressure

I can honestly see that happening to DeGale, even so early on. He has put himself in a position where defeat will be a real bitter pill to swallow.

That’s why I think Groves did the right thing in going to Miami beforehand. Just being in England, DeGale would have had the world and his wife asking him about the fight, encouraging him, wishing him luck, just mentioning it.

That is nice but believe me, it puts more and more pressure on you. And they will have been living, eating, drinking this fight as it is, 24/7.

I would much rather be in George’s position because no-one really expects him to win. If he does it will do him the world of good but if he loses, and comes out with some respect, he knows he can come again. I am not sure mentally, DeGale would ever get that confidence back.

DeGale though, has to get this out of the way, get this over and done with. If he comes through it the positive is I think he will be on the verge of a world title within a few fights, he is that good. But if he loses, he might never get close again.

If he lets the emotion get to him and if he takes it into the ring, he might suddenly find himself with nowhere to go – and no way back.

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