Former IBF two-time World Champion James DeGale and two-time World Championship challenger Chris Eubank Jr go toe-to-toe in a super-middleweight grudge match on Saturday evening.
Two fighters who have talked about each other throughout their careers, it’s a fight where the fans should expect nothing less than a classic brawl.
Although no titles are on the line, there is much more at stake than what lies above the surface.
Our boxing expert gives his opinion and best bets for Saturday’s contest.
In 2014, before Eubank Jr had turned professional, he and his father visited DeGale’s gym to train as a sparring partner for the Hammersmith fighter’s upcoming fight.
In Eubank’s words, he ‘man-handled the guy’. What can be confirmed from that day is that after the spar, unpleasantries were exchanged between the two parties and the Eubanks left the gym shortly after with temperatures high. Eubank bragged of his efforts shortly after on social media.
Since then, the Brighton born man has been calling for DeGale throughout his career. DeGale has always maintained that Eubank is not an elite fighter and will never be on the same level as him as a boxer.
Eubank Jr’s defeat to George Groves in the 2018 World Boxing Super Series semi-final dealt a second career loss, of which both have come in world title bouts. This has left questions surrounding the 29-year-old’s world level credentials, and a defeat on Saturday could mark the end of his career.
DeGale has been at the top of the ladder in his journey through boxing, winning two world titles, the last of which came early last year, successfully retaining his belt after an entertaining bout with Caleb Truax in their IBF world super-middleweight rematch.
Since then, the 33-year-old has vacated his title to free up his options, something that Eubank Jr has lamented in the build-up to this fight. In his most recent fight, DeGale stopped Fidel Munoz in three-rounds, a warm-up bout for what he calls his final few ‘big money fights’.
DeGale has said he is ‘finished’ should he lose to Eubank Jr, someone who is yet to prove his worth at world level, and that he would likely retire himself should he lose on Saturday.
DeGale’s pedigree cannot be overlooked, though it has been widely thought he is on the decline as a fighter.
Though Eubank Jr is yet to record a win against world level fighters, the appointment of new trainer Nate Vazquez (Mayweather Boxing Club) has been seen as a good move whilst he enters the twilight stage of his career.
I expect it to be tight contest, with DeGale outboxing Eubank Jr for much of the rounds, but I think his age will show at some point, and Eubank Jr will catch him flush to end the bout early. You can get Eubank Jr to KO/TKO DeGale in rounds 7-9 at 7/1, or in rounds 10-12 at 9/1 with GrosvenorSport.com.