Degale sounds warning after making final

James Degale sailed into the Olympic middleweight final in Beijing today then warned amateur boxing chiefs the nation's top stars could quit over the political in-fighting in the sport.

Degale scored a masterful 10-3 victory over Ireland's Darren Sutherland to advance to the gold medal match and was quick to pay tribute to beleaguered head coach Terry Edwards.

Edwards' position is in doubt with the Amateur Boxing Association, who chose the eve of the Olympic semi-finals to announce welterweight Billy Joe Saunders had been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.

Asked if he would stay amateur if Edwards was relieved of his duties, Degale said: "I don't think the majority of them would. I would not.

"Terry doesn't get the respect he deserves. We've all got respect for him and he's like a second dad to me. He's fantastic and all the rubbish he gets is not fair.

"Terry sat us down and explained it all to us and it's a load of rubbish to be honest. All we're here for is to win gold medals. Everything is fine and it will be sorted out when we get back."

Degale's classy performance against a rugged opponent who had beaten the Londoner in four of their previous five meetings could not have come at a better time for Edwards.

Despite qualifying eight boxers for the Games the 65-year-old has received little or no support from boxing chiefs and expressed his disgust at the timing of the ABA's statement yesterday.

Edwards said: "This has been coming for a long time and my skin is getting thicker and thicker. I came here to do a job and they (the ABA) obviously came here to do some sort of other job.

"I don't know what their agenda is but I know what my agenda is, and that's to get guys through to the final. I just find the timing of it all unbelievable. If there are grievances they should be dealt with but at the right time."

Degale boxed a brilliant counter-attacking fight to catch the eye of the judges, who elevated him into a two-point lead at the half-way stage before his unerring accuracy put him six up heading into the last.

Having already achieved bronze, Sutherland looked strangely subdued as he bulled forward to little effect and allowed Degale to pick him off, landing his best shot with a big right hand on the bell to end round three.

Edwards clearly expressed his fury with the showboating Degale for taking that shot and the British fighter responded, continuing to skate around the ring's limits in the final round to score a famous victory.

Degale added: "On my day I can beat anybody in the world. In the past maybe I haven't got the tactics or weight right or silly things like that. And now everything is excellent.

"All the messages from home gave me the strength to do this. I'm so proud to be British and win a medal. I was dreaming of this four weeks ago in Macau and now it's all coming true."

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