DeGale tipped to silence ‘mental’ critics

James DeGale’s trainer Jim McDonnell has labelled some of his fighter’s critics “mental” and insisted the Harlesden man will prove them wrong.

DeGale ends 2011 as the European super-middleweight champion, having bounced back from losing a points decision to arch rival George Groves by grinding out a victory against rugged Pole Piotr Wilczewski.

The Olympic gold medallist has his share of detractors but McDonnell – himself a former European champion and world title challenger – remains convinced they will be won over.

McDonnell believes DeGale will become a top fighter.

“When some people judge James, they’re not judgemental – they’re just mental,” McDonnell told West London Sport.

“I boxed at the highest level as an amateur and pro and the key word is experience. They’re expecting James to do things a 30 or 40-fight professional would be capable of doing.

“I believe he can be a great fighter, but at the moment he’s a boy who’s had four 12-rounders in 12 professional contests.

“In the past you had six-rounders and loads of eight-rounders before you jumped up to 10 and when you did jump up you thought ‘wow’. But James has been in deep from a very early stage.

“He was a world-class amateur but is still a novice professional and has got to learn his trade.”

DeGale is keen to challenge for a world title in 2012 and also wants a rematch with Hammersmith prospect Groves, who edged their encounter at the O2 Arena in May on a majority verdict.

But his first mission of the year is likely to be a defence of his European crown against mandatory challenger Cristian Sanavia.

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