Super middleweight world champion James DeGale has set himself "a maximum of four more fights" within two years before retiring from an already record-breaking career and revealed on Monday that he was wearing "a gum shield which cost two quid" when he had his front teeth knocked out in the gruelling, multi-million dollar super middleweight unification fight in New York in January - ruled a draw - against Floyd Mayweather-promoted Badou Jack.
There has also been surgery recently on a "separated septum" on the International Boxing Federation champion's broken nose which was creating breathing problems in training and fights. "It has made a huge difference," said DeGale. "I wish I'd had it done before. I was having to fight with my mouth open."
Speaking at celebratory lunch in DeGale's honour organised by the Boxing Writers Club at Little Italy in Soho, London, for the only British boxer ever to have won an Olympic gold medal and a subsequent professional world title, the 30-year-old, looking lean and healthy and showing a brand new set of teeth, disclosed the last four dance partners he would ideally choose to end his career perfectly. All four are potentially there for the fighter, too. "I'd like to fight George Groves again," he said, of his British rival who is the only other boxer to have beaten him in an otherwise unblemished 25-fight resume.
"Of course I'd like to put that right because we grew up together in the same amateur club, but the cream always rises to the top and now people are seeing who is the genuine world-class fighter of the two of us," explained DeGale. "But If I never fight him again, though, it would not be the end of the world."
Otherwise, DeGale relishes the challenge from rising super middleweight Callum Smith, feared puncher and world middleweight No 1 Gennady Golovkin, and the unbeaten light-heavyweight king Andre Ward. "They would all be great fights for different reasons, but I just want the big fights because I have reached close to my goal to having enough money to retire. I've been in this sport a long time and I genuinely don't want to go on too long. If the Golovkin or Ward fights could be in Las Vegas, great, but I'd like to fight here again in the UK after having four fights on the road."
DeGale believes that southpaw sparring partner Billy Joe Saunders, expected to fight Golovkin this summer, could give the Kazakh "real problems with his skills" and said that he was now "in search of a proper gum shield" when he returns to action this summer.