JAMES DeGale says the late great Darren Sutherland will lift the IBF super middleweight title with him in New York on May 23.
The London super-middleweight takes on American Andre Dirrell for the vacant strap on a Boston card that also includes Spike O’Sullivan wearing shorts emblazoned with the initials ‘DS’.
The Beijing 2008 gold medal winner was a massive rival of Dubliner Sutherland in the amateurs, indeed the only time the English puncher beat ‘Dazzler’ in six fights was en route to the top of the Olympic that 2008 podium.
Sutherland was always known as one of the nicest people in Irish sport, not just boxing, but there was always a sense of bad blood when it came to all things Degale. After beating the ‘Chunky’ in the Stadium in the EU championships he told Irish boxing he had ‘buried the hatchet’ his final opponent and claimed Degale ‘always had his respect as a fighter’.
That respect is obviously reciprocated by DeGale the fighter vying to become the first British fighter to win Olympic gold and go on to become a world champion, the 29 year old has fought with the initials DS on his shorts since Sutherland’s passing in 2009.
And he says he will bring the much loved Dubliner’s spirit with him to the ring when bids to make history next week.
“It was so sad to hear about it. To put his initials on my shorts was just a bit of respect for him and his family who must have found it so hard,” DeGale told the Star.
“It was so sad to hear about it. To put his initials on my shorts was just a bit of respect for him and his family who must have found it so hard. We were rivals as amateurs but we had a lot of respect for each other. When I’m going to be world champion, he is going to be world champion.
“We are going to lift this together. Maybe it is just his initials on my shorts but we will do it together.”