23 August 2020

On this day in 2008: James DeGale clinches Olympic gold in Beijing

23 August 2020

James DeGale clinched gold in the men’s middleweight event for Great Britain at the Beijing Olympics on this day in 2008.

The London-born boxer’s Olympic campaign began with a defeat of Egyptian fighter Mohamed Hikal, before an 11-5 victory over the USA’s Shawn Estrada saw him progress to the quarter-finals.

An encounter with former gold medallist Bakhtiyar Artayev, who won the event for Kazakhstan at the Athens games, ended with an 8-3 success and lined up a semi-final bout against Irishman Darren Sutherland.

James Degale (right) lost his IBF title to Caleb Truax (PA Archive)

After successfully dispatching Sutherland, DeGale took on Cuban fighter Emilio Correa in the final.

The Cuban was subject to a two-point penalty for biting DeGale’s shoulder, an offence that proved crucial as the judges awarded victory to DeGale with a scorecard of 16-14.

DeGale, who had previously claimed Commonwealth bronze in 2006, went on turn professional in December 2008.

He became the British super-middleweight champion by beating Paul Smith in Liverpool two years later.

James DeGale (right) retired after defeat to Chris Eubank Jr (PA Archive)

A switch to Matchroom elevated DeGale’s world title hopes. He fought on the undercard of Carl Froch and George Groves’ Wembley rematch and would get his shot at the IBF title when Froch was forced to vacate it due to injury.

His unanimous decision victory over Andre Dirrell meant DeGale became the first British Olympic gold medallist to win a professional world title.

DeGale lost his IBF crown after a shock defeat to Caleb Truax, only to regain it in a rematch. He would fight only twice more as a professional after choosing to relinquish his IBF title.

He announced his retirement after defeat in a grudge fight against Chris Eubank Jr in 2019, ending his professional career with three losses.

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