By Jamie Savin @JamieSavin
PBC’s first foray into the British PPV Market sees an intriguing clash between Olympic Gold Medalist and former IBF Super Middleweight World Champion James DeGale taking on the brash, cocky and arrogant Chris Eubank Jr with the IBO World Super Middleweight belt on the line.
Rumours of this fight happening have been doing the rounds for a while based on a sparring session in which Eubank Jr states he schooled DeGale. On February 23rd there will be head guards and it will be time to see who will be taken to school. In looking at this fight it is quite easy to talk yourself into the backing of one man over the other, take Eubank Jr for instance he has mainly feasted on opponents better known for being tough than being good boxers. The times in which he has stepped up the quality of his opposition are when he has struggled, against Billy Joe Saunders he barely landed a glove for 6 rounds which allowed Saunders to build up a healthy lead. Credit to Eubank Jr for forcing it down the stretch but how much of that was down to a lack of conditioning on Saunders part.
The other time was in February 2018 when he took on George Groves, it looked like the jab of Groves was simply too much for Eubank Jr to work out. So surely an Olympic Gold Medalist such as DeGale should be able to box and move for 12 rounds and coast himself to an easy points victory?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple as entering in to this contest many are wondering what does DeGale have left in the tank following brutal wars with Jack and Traux. In th
e aforementioned contests, DeGale was dragged in to a fight and away from a boxing match, the first fight with Traux in which DeGale was a heavy favourite he looked devoid of ideas and whilst the scorecards had it close the fight belonged to Traux.
In the rematch perhaps DeGale had learnt and boxed a bit more but there was still plenty of times in which he was forced to fight in the trenches. The tendency to get dragged in to a brawl was seen most in the Jack fight, perhaps the knockdown in the first round was the worst thing to happen as DeGale perhaps thought he could get Jack out of there. The heart DeGale has shown in these fights is something to behold though but with question marks over how much he has left following these kind of fights can he have a dogfight with Eubank Jr and come out on top?
Using the common opponent as a yardstick is a dangerous tact to take but some conclusions can be drawn. Against Groves, Eubank Jr was stuck behind a jab and with his refusal to listen to his corner the fight took a rinse and repeat pattern. Groves would jab and move, with the odd power shot which seemed to have Eubank Jr’s respect, whilst Eubank Jr would plod forward hoping for a big shot to land to then apply pressure.
For DeGale against Groves it was more of a tactical fight with Groves perhaps being aware of DeGale’s surprising one punch power and as such had to move a lot more. Remember only one point separated them on two scorecards to give the win to Groves. Using this fight as a point in case for DeGale is tough as the fight was almost 8 years ago as since then DeGale has seemed more determined to try and win some rounds clearly. It was after this fight that he started planting his feet a little more but this would also tire him out and seen in numerous fights he would effectively take a break and sit on the ropes. Against a pressure fighter such as Eubank Jr he would be ill advised to do so.
The winner of this fight comes down to who will make the adjustments necessary throughout the 12 rounds, Eubank Jr has only shown he can fight in one way and has come unstuck against the two best boxers he has faced. DeGale on paper should just box Eubank Jr’s ears off for 12 rounds but his habit of breaks in fights by sitting on the ropes plus the miles on the clock make it a bit more difficult to call.
DeGale on points, albeit a close decision which may warrant a rematch.
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