Former two-time Super Middleweight Champion James DeGale (25-2-1, 15 KOs) will meet Chris Eubank Jr. (27-2 21 KOs) on Saturday, February 23rd, at the O2 Arena in London. The two outspoken boxers will finally settle their long running feud and decide who’s better.
James DeGale has slipped a bit in the past couple of years. He just doesn’t seem like himself. Maybe the loss in his first fight against Caleb Truax (30-4-2, 19KOs), he took a beating and sustained some injuries. He got his nose busted in that fight, seemed to have hurt his right shoulder, which he had gotten surgery on previously. DeGale said after the fight that his shoulder was fine but his body language was saying something different. He did immediately avenge that loss but didn’t look dominant. Both fighters took a beating and were transported to the hospital after the fight. DeGale later vacated his IBF title, claiming he wanted “bigger fights”. He is coming off a KO win against journeyman Fidel Monterrosa Munoz (39-19-1, 31KOs).
On the other side, Chris Eubank Jr. is coming off a win against a similar caliber opponent in JJ McDonagh (16-5, 8KOs). His last fight against a top tier opponent – George Groves (28-4, 20 KOs) ended in a devastating, non competitive, wide decision loss in the WBSS Semifinals. It seemed to be the continuation of a trend in his career, that is, losing fights against top tier competition. He also lost a fight to Billy Joe Saunders (27-0, 13 KOs) when he fought at Middleweight in 2014. As boxing fans, we hope he shows up in this fight, or at least makes it competitive. Given that Eubank Jr. has boxing in his blood, his father Chris Eubank Sr. is a British boxing legend, one would think that the son would also be a very a good boxer. It doesn’t seem to be the case. He’s been average at best and hasn’t lived up to his potential so far. Many in the boxing world believe in him, but he hasn’t ended up on the winning side in big moments.
Ways for James DeGale to win:
- Pace himself. Endurance has been a problem. It has been said that he has changed his conditioning training this camp. He should reserve his energy for the later rounds. I do see this fight going the distance, and if he gets himself into a war, he will need the stamina.
- He’s the much smarter boxer. He’s very crafty and should be creative with his offense. Mix up combinations and angles to confuse Eubank Jr.
- Use the jab to keep Eubank Jr. off balance. Use lateral movement and different angles to keep him at bay.
- Not so much a technical strategy, but more a mental one, DeGale needs to dig deep and find his old self. If his old self shows up, he wins by a wide decision.
Ways for Chris Eubank Jr. to win:
- DeGale has a great jab and Eubank Jr. has been known to neglect his jab, using it more for range to load up his power shots. If Eubank uses a sharp jab with some real snap on it, it will make his life easier.
- Put the pressure on DeGale from the very start and don’t let up. It’s no secret that DeGale hasn’t been top notch his past 3 fights and has sustained injuries with long term effects. One has to wonder how well his body can hold up against a 12 round onslaught.
- Should try to box more. Eubank Jr. relies on his power way too much, loading up his shots and making himself predictable. Mix up some combinations with a sharp, crisp jab, hooks to the body, and uppercuts. He’s not the most technically sound fighter, but he’s very athletic and needs to use every tool he has to be successful in this fight.
- Again with his boxing, we want him to swarm DeGale early and keep a quick pace, but he needs to keep his hands up and focus on his defense, using head movement and closing the distance without taking too much punishment.
This is an intriguing fight – both guys hate each other. It supposedly all stems from the aftermath of a sparring match 6 years ago. DeGale said it was business as usual, and Eubank Jr chirped a bit on social media, saying he won the sparring match. I expect this to be a bit of a grudge match. We all know the winner will be determined by who shows up. Can DeGale find his old self? Has his new conditioning training paid off? Is he 100% healthy and in great shape? He did look great at the media workout, but that’s 15 minutes, not 12 rounds against an aggressive opponent. Will Eubank Jr. bringing in Nate Vasquez as a formal trainer and developing a game plan specifically for DeGale make a difference? Will he listen to his corner? Or will he be the same old Eubank Jr.? I think this will be a close fight. It can go either way. One thing for sure, it should be very entertaining. I think DeGale will have just enough left in the tank to edge out a decision. I’m going DeGale on points. I wouldn’t be shocked if Eubank Jr. pulled out a win either, especially if DeGale’s conditioning fails him in the late rounds.
The main card begins at 3:45 pm ET. The main event is expected to start at around 5:00 pm. It will be broadcasted on Showtime, and can also be viewed on the Showtime App in the USA. It will be shown on ITV Box Office in the UK. Another interesting fight on the card will be Top Heavyweight Prospect Joe Joyce (7-0, 7 KOs) taking on former WBC Heavyweight Champion Bermane Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs) in a 12 round clash.