James DeGale is relishing the prospect of his first fight in the United Kingdom since 2014 having craved a homecoming throughout his absence.
The IBF super-middleweight champion is to make the fourth defence of the title he has previously only fought for in Canada and the United States, when on December 9 he headlines a Frank Warren bill at London’s Copper Box Arena.
Lee Selby, the IBF featherweight champion from Wales, will fight on the same bill having also agreed a one-fight deal with the promoter, and at a time when their domestic rivals are expected to thrive.
DeGale, 31, is widely considered the world’s finest at 168lbs but injury kept him from the World Boxing Super Series in which George Groves, Chris Eubank Jnr and Callum Smith are competing.
The 30-year-old Selby will fight mandatory challenger Josh Warrington next year, should he succeed in defending his title, and will then target Carl Frampton, who like Warrington is also promoted by Warren.
“I’ve been craving to come back and fight,” said DeGale. “I perform best at home, I have done the US (and Canada) thing. It’s just the right time for me to start fighting back home.
“I want the biggest fights and the biggest money because I am recognised as the number one super-middleweight in the world. I (eventually) want the winner of the World Series; Eubank, Groves and Smith, they’re all in there. Maybe at Arsenal. I’d prefer Groves to win because then we can do it again; it’d be a massive fight and we can put the record straight.”
Warren insisted his recent recruitment of DeGale, Selby and Frampton had again given him the finest stable in the UK, over that of rivals Matchroom, and said that a fight between Warrington and Selby is “done” for Elland Road.
“Next year could be a big year for me: hopefully I’ll come through on December 9, and then it’s Josh Warrington,” Selby said. “I want to move on to the really big fight against Frampton.
“Warrington’s obsessed with me, calling me out. I’ve nothing against the boy. I’ll come through and then I’m quite sure we’re at Elland Road; Josh Warrington will get what he wants. Carl Frampton, Josh Warrington and me can do a round robin.”
Warren, working with DeGale five years on from their split, said of the super-middleweight: “I’m pleased it’s his homecoming and in his hometown, London. He’s been a big success the other side of the Atlantic; it’s not easy to go there.”