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James DeGale: My career could be over in 5 fights

James DeGale says his career might only last five fights and three more years, if he can cash in on his international success.

The IBF world super-middleweight champion is scheduled to face U.S.-based Badou Jack at New York's Barclays Center on Jan. 14, and the British boxer, who still has many detractors, said he was determined to quit the ring with a proud record.

"As soon as I've made enough money, I'll get out," DeGale told ESPN. "I won't be one of these fighters that can't let go. As soon as I've achieved what I want, I will get out. It's a hard sport, you can get hurt by going on.

"Just being in there in a big exciting world title fight is what I want to fight on for. Maybe another three or four years. But I'm at my peak now, that's when I'm going to earn. There's only a small percent of boxers who hold on to their money."

"I might only have 10 fights left, three years or so," the 30-year-old told the Daily Mail in the build-up to his super-middleweight title unification contest with WBC champion Jack.

"I might only have five fights if the money is right, wrapping it all up in a stadium by beating up George Groves. Bottom line: I want to do this right, to get people to say, 'DeGale, he was a proper fighter'.

"I could have gone the easier route and fought in England against whoever. But I made the decision to chase the dream in the US; go the hard way. That is why I am working harder than ever before. I've smashed myself in this camp."

DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) may have spent a notable part of his career fighting outside his homeland, but he is happy with American adviser Al Haymon, despite the attention of Jack's promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr, the former pound-for-pound king.

"Jack has proven that he's an elite fighter, he's confident being around Mayweather and he's looked good in his last couple of fights," DeGale told ESPN.

"Mayweather has got a soft spot for me, he always embraces me and talks to me whenever he sees me. Maybe he's trying to get me into The Mayweather Team, but I'm happy where I am at the moment."

DeGale insisted he has made peace with the fact that he has remained unpopular with some British fight fans. "There aren't many Brits taking on the fights I'm taking on," he said in his newspaper interview. "But people remember the mouthy, arrogant guy with the Olympic medal when I got started.

"Maybe they hold that against me. It's not like I don't have supporters -- I have brilliant supporters and more people are starting to recognise what I do.

"I will never be Anthony Joshua or Ricky Hatton, who are loved by everyone -- some people will always call me a prat."

DeGale's last four bouts have been outside the UK; the first saw him claim the vacant IBF title with an impressive unanimous decision victory against Andre Dirrell in Boston in May 2015.

Points victories over Lucian Bute in Quebec, Canada, and Rogelio 'Porky' Medina in Washington D.C. followed, the latter setting up an intriguing clash with WBC champion Jack.

"I actually like boxing away from home, it takes the pressure off you a little bit," DeGale said in a conference call. "I'm living the American Dream, boxing in some fantastic states.

"All of my career I've done it the hard way: travelled away from home, won world titles. What I've done over in America for the past year and a half has been really good; I'm proud of myself."