Degale wins gold for Britain
BEIJING (AP) James Degale looked at his gold medal from Beijing, then looked ahead four years to another Olympics.
"How can I follow this up?" he repeated a question Saturday night. "By winning in 2012 in my home city of London. That's the way I'll do it."
"I must admit it would be hard to say no to a million pounds," Degale said of a potential professional contract.
By beating Cuba's Emilio Correa 16-14 in an ugly middleweight bout marred by more holding than punching and a significant amount of dancing as the two fighters' arms kept getting tangled, Degale showed some resilience. He also displayed a whole bunch of poor tactics, from keeping his hands too low to grabbing Correa with both arms a dozen times a round.
But he also showed boxing skills, quick jabs and an ability to escape danger.
English boxers who make it big in the pros not only get rich, but they enjoy lasting fame. Currently, Ricky Hatton is an icon in England, and Degale has the outgoing personality and flash to eventually get to that point.
But his ring skills are raw, so another four years as an amateur might be the right choice for the 22-year-old Degale.
That's particularly true if coach Terry Edwards hangs around to lead the British team.
"Terry's like our pops," Degale said. "If Terry stays, that's it, I stay."
Then he hedged again.
"Obviously they will have to compensate me. If they give me more money and a couple (of) sponsors ... amateur boxing is me."
The crowd didn't think so, jeering both fighters as the waltzing reached the ridiculous stage. At times it was Degale's fault, and others Correa was responsible for the lack of action.
Correa, whose father won gold at the 1972 Olympics, was accused of biting in the first round by Degale. When the Cuban challenged that at a news conference, Degale pulled open his shirt to show the mark.
He couldn't find it.
"He might have run into me when my mouth was open," Correa said. "But I didn't bite him."
Correa and Degale were upset by the boos and whistles in the packed arena.
"It's disrespect," Degale said. "Bits of the fight were all right. There was not so much holding and scrapping.
"They love boxing here and they are a boxing country."
So is England, and Degale knows if he sticks it out through 2012, another gold medal before his countrymen would be outstanding.
But so would a pro title of any kind, leaving Degale with a difficult decision.