Boxing: DeGale set to win acclaim by turning on the style

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The Independent Online

In Beijing it was an unexpected gold medal, three months ago it was unexpected jeers for his professional debut and tonight James DeGale performs in front of British boxing's most informed crowd when he climbs through the ropes at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, for his second fight.

In Birmingham for DeGale's debut the crowd was both entertaining and boisterous and started to give the golden boy plenty of stick even before the first punch. DeGale won comfortably on points, demonstrating the skills that won him the gold and perhaps the crowd expected something from the Rocky conveyor belt and not a brilliant stylist.

Tonight's crowd knows a thing or two about the boxing game and DeGale, who fights unbeaten Jindrich Kubin of the Czech Republic, has the necessary defensive skills to win them over. If DeGale can say all the right things and end Kubin's winning streak at five fights, then he will regain a bit of the gloss that the was rubbed off the last time out.

DeGale is part of promoter Frank Warren's triple package of Olympians and he will be joined by Frankie Gavin, who meets Frenchman Mourad Frarema, and Billy Joe Saunders, who has Germany's Ronny Gabel to beat.

The nominal main event fighter is local idol and British boxing's most unlikely hero, Martin Rogan, who just over a year ago was driving a taxi and playing at acting. Last April he won Barry Hearn's inaugural Prizefighter competition and has since beaten Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton in back-to-back upsets.

Rogan defends his Commonwealth heavyweight title against Norfolk's Sam Sexton, who like Rogan has fought just 12 times.