James DeGale: I've had it tougher than Anthony Joshua

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James DeGale says his path to a world title unification fight has been tougher than the one taken by Anthony Joshua.

IBF world super-middleweight champion DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) faces WBC titleholder Badou Jack at the Barclays Centre in New York on Jan. 14. It will be DeGale's fourth consecutive world title fight in North America.

DeGale, 31 next month, won the IBF world title six years after he turned professional following his gold medal triumph at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Joshua, 27, captured the IBF title in just two and a half years as a professional after he won gold in London in 2012.

"I've done it the hard way my whole career. Even the Olympics was away from home in China," DeGale told ESPN. "I've had to go to America. I've had injuries and boxed in leisure centers and shopping centers.

"We've had different paths, me and Joshua. We're both Olympic gold medallists and world champions, but I won mine away from home, and he won both of his at home. Don't get me wrong, he's a great talent and a superstar. Everyone loves him."

DeGale hopes victory over U.S.-based Swede Jack will put him back in the spotlight in the UK with a big fight against British rivals George Groves or Callum Smith at Wembley Stadium, close to where he is from.

Groves (25-3, 18 KOs), who lost a split points decision to Jack in Las Vegas in September 2015, is next due to fight for the vacant WBA version of the world title against Fedor Chudinov and won a debated points decision over DeGale in 2011.

"I used to go run past Wembley Stadium, and I've always wanted to fight there. It could still happen. Against someone like George Groves it would sell 80,000," DeGale said.

"First I have to deal with Jack, and if I come through that, some massive fights can be made against Smith and Groves, which could be another unification fight if he wins his next one."

DeGale, who has yet to box at home as a world champion, added: "I'm a road warrior. This doesn't bother me at all, boxing away from home. I've had my last three fights in America and Canada.

"Boxing in America, in New York, to unify the titles in the division, this is what fighters dream about. This is the pinnacle of our sport."

After boxing just once last year -- an unspectacular points win over Rogelio Medina -- DeGale says he will be inspired by the occasion against Jack.

He said: "I thought the Jack fight would happen in September, but big unification fights like this take time. But the most important thing is that it's on. Of course it was very frustrating not fighting for so long, but it's boxing. I'm still world champion, and this is a unification fight in New York.

"One hundred percent I'm a buzz fighter. I like the big lights, the big crowds and the big nights. The bigger it is, the better I fight, and that would be a unification fight like this one."