DeGale picks McDonnell as mentor

OLYMPIC gold medal hero James DeGale insists he will be fighting fit for his professional debut - with his confidence high in new trainer Jim McDonnell. The link is an interesting pairing of Britain s hottest new pro and the trainer who once earned title

OLYMPIC gold medal hero James DeGale insists he will be fighting fit for his professional debut - with his confidence high in new trainer Jim McDonnell.

The link is an interesting pairing of Britain's hottest new pro and the trainer who once earned title honours in his own career as a member of the Terry Lawless successful squad, based at the famous Royal Oak Gym in Canning Town.

The Olympic gold medallist will have his first paid fight under promoter Frank Warren on February 28, at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.

He has been training hard at tough taskmaster McDonnell's Loughton gymnasium, ensuring that he is in the best shape possible for his big night.


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Following his Beijing triumph, the west London fighter took his time selecting the right coach to prepare him for his pro career - and both fighter and trainer are confident that it will be a winning combination.

"I don't think I've ever worked as much as I have done in the last few weeks, and Jim is leaving no stone unturned to get me in the best possible shape," said DeGale.

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"Things have been going fantastic in the gym - and I could have my first pro fight tomorrow, I feel so good."

McDonnell praised the Beijing hero: "He is so, so determined. I believe James will eventually become a world champion.

"It will take time. It might not be a smooth ride. There will be hurdles along the way. But, take it from me, this kid is something very special."

The fighter has even found time to pass on some of McDonnell's secrets after signing up for The Feelgood Factor on ITV1, a new initiative to encourage the nation to get fit and lose weight.

DeGale will take training sessions with one of the groups, and is delighted to be involved.

"But although I'll push my group hard, I won't be as tough with them as Jim McDonnell is with me - it just wouldn't be fair, would it?" smiled golden boy DeGale.

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