DeGale: I’ll thrive under pressure

James DeGale insists he will thrive under the pressure of knowing he cannot afford to lose his European title challenge against Piotr Wilczewski.

The fight will be the Olympic gold medalist’s first since he lost his British title and unbeaten professional record against bitter rival and fellow west Londoner George Groves in May.

Frank Warren, DeGale’s promoter, has described the Harlesden super-middleweight’s return as “a make or break fight” that he must win in order to keep alive his hopes of a world title shot.

“I don’t fear pressure, I thrive on it, and in this fight I’m looking to go out there and prove that I’m good enough to fight for a world title,” DeGale told West London Sport.

“For the majority of my fights, from the Olympic final all the way through my professional career – from the four and six-rounders to going into the lion’s den and fighting for the British title [against Paul Smith] – there’s been pressure.

Warren has warned that DeGale simply must beat Wilczewski

“Hopefully I’ll win this, will be European champion – champion of three quarters of the world – and then I’ll go and get that other quarter.”

DeGale, 25, has been itching to get back into the ring since losing to Groves on a split-decision – a defeat he admits was tough to take.

“It’s got better now but the first week or so afterwards did hurt. I had stitches and every time I looked in the mirror it reminded me of the fight,” he said.

“I’m a proud boy and I don’t like losing – especially to my worst enemy. But now I’m over it and it’s great news I’ve got this shot at the European title.”

Wilczewski, 32, is ranked two in the world by the WBO and has failed to win only one of his 30 fights.

Warren and DeGale have both claimed that the Pole is a better fighter than Groves, who is also gunning for a world title after adding the British crown to his Commonwealth belt.  

“He’s definitely better than Groves. He’s been there and done it – look at his record. But the better opponent I box, the better I fight,” DeGale added.

“Groves ran like a chicken and nicked the fight from me. Hopefully he’ll keep on winning and looking good and we can have that rematch.”