Former IBF super middleweight champion James DeGale and domestic rival Chris Eubank Jr. finally meet inside the ring on February 23, 2019, at the O2 Arena in London, England.
The two have been on a collision course since Eubank turned pro almost a decade ago. Eubank called out DeGale but since they fought at different weight classes, the fight was never made. Eubank moved up to DeGale’s weight class in 2017 and two years later, the pair will finally settle the score.
The winner of this bout will be awarded the IBO super middleweight belt, which used to belong to Eubank, and will have the upper hand as the next challenger of WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith who dethroned George Groves last year.
James DeGale is a two-time IBF super middleweight title who also won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. DeGale successfully defended his belt three times (two wins and one draw) before getting upset by American Caleb Truax in December 2017. Known as Chunky, DeGale regained the belt in a rematch four months later. In his last bout, DeGale stopped Fidel Munoz in three rounds.
DeGale has a professional record of 25-2-1 with 15 knockouts (54% knockout rate). He stands 6-0 and has a reach of 74 inches while fighting out of the southpaw stance. Born in Hammersmith, West London in the United Kingdom, DeGale is ranked as the sixth best active super-middleweight boxer in the world by the Ring Magazine. The 33 year old DeGale is the first boxer from England to win gold at the Olympics and a professional world title.
James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr. Odds
O 9.5 -303
U 9.5 +253
Odds from betonline.ag as of 2/21/19
Known as Next Gen, Chris Eubank Jr. is the former IBO super middleweight champion who was a contestant at the 2017 World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament. Eubank beat Avni Yildirim in the quarterfinals but was outpointed by George Groves in the semifinal round. In his most recent bout, Eubank defeated Irish fighter JJ McDonagh after the latter quit on his stool after the third round due to a shoulder injury.
Eubank Jr. is the proud owner of a record that stands at 27-2 with 21 knockouts (72% knockout rate). Eubank Jr. is 5-11, has a reach of 72.5 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance. Born in Hove, Sussex in the United Kingdom, Eubank Jr. is the son of former two weight division champion Chris Eubank. He is currently ranked by Ring Magazine as the 4th best active super-middleweight boxer in the world. Eubank is a natural middleweight but moved up to 168 pounds in 2017.
DeGale is hands down the better boxer between the two and we know that Eubank’s weakness is when he is pitted against an opponent who is a superior boxer than him. We saw this against Billie Joe Saunders and George Groves. But unlike the two, James DeGale doesn’t have enough pop in his punches to put Eubank on notice and prevent him from getting inside his range and letting his hands go.
Also, Eubank was hesitant to close in on Groves because the latter had a steady diet of jabs and had a strong right hand. While DeGale is the far better boxer than Eubank, Chunky doesn’t have the same kind of punching power as Groves and this could give Eubank an opportunity to force the issue and find success.
On the other hand, size could also be a factor in this fight because while Eubank has been fighting as a super middleweight since 2017, he is a natural middleweight and as such DeGale is physically bigger being a true super middleweight. Size-wise, DeGale has a slight advantage in both height (one inch) and reach (1.5 inch). But the real advantage could be in the pop in Eubank’s punches because while he is a hard puncher, his punches may not have the same effect against a naturally bigger opponent like DeGale. Eubank overwhelms his opponents with several big shots rather than beat them with one knockout punch. That may be tougher to do against Chunky. On the other hand, if DeGale uses his size advantage properly, he will have his way against Eubank.
Despite his advantage in skill, experience and size, DeGale is the underdog in this fight. The reason behind this is because some quarters are calling him “damaged goods” heading to this fight. Chunky has been in too many wars and the wear and tear of a professional boxing career that began in 2009 could be catching up with him. DeGale is 2-1-1 in his last four bouts and at 33 he is no longer a spring chicken. Nor is he still the same fighter who outboxed Andre Dirrell and Lucian Bute nearly four years ago. But while he is no longer on top of his game, he is still a handful even for a younger and faster opponent like Junior.
DeGale will look to outbox Eubank in this fight and Eubank cannot content to just wait and counter because he isn’t as technically skilled. Junior will have to be the aggressor here and he will try to swarm DeGale and overwhelm him with his activity and volume. But he won’t be able to do so without getting peppered by Chunky’s hands. DeGale doesn’t have the fastest of hands, but he is going to outbox Eubank if this turns out to be a boxing affair. I don’t think either man can knock the other out with one punch. I think this is going to be a 12-round war and in the end, the more experienced and more skilled fighter is going to win this fight. That fighter is James DeGale.
I’m picking James DeGale to beat Chris Eubank Jr. by unanimous decision.