With no love lost between these two and the vacant IBO super-middleweight title up for grabs, fight fans are in for a real treat this weekend at the O2 Arena when James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr. stand toe-to-toe. The most credible voice in in the sport, Boxing News, step back into the ring with FansBet with their betting preview and tips for the fight, and if you are looking for some value then head over to our FanBoosts section and check out our massive selection of enhanced odds for the fight!
What Does DeGale Have Left?
HOW much does James DeGale have left? The answer to this question will determine the outcome of his super-middleweight grudge match with Chris Eubank Jnr this Saturday (February 23) at the O2 Arena in Greenwich.
A 2008 Olympic gold medallist and former two-time IBF champion, DeGale at his best is a slick, switch-hitting stylist. Boasting intelligent footwork and head movement, the predominantly southpaw operator thrusts out long jabs, backed up by a wide variety of attacks unleashed from unorthodox angles. Curving hooks, driving uppercuts, looping overhand lefts and educated body shots are weaved together by the Harlesden technician to form free-flowing combinations.
While DeGale, 25-2-1 (15), is still capable of demonstrating these attributes, the consistency with which he does so has lessened in recent years. After a long and distinguished career, the battles of the past have inevitably begun to catch up with the 33-year-old. Injuries have become more frequent. Fights have become more gruelling. Opponents he once would have comfortably dealt with – like the decent but unspectacular Caleb Truax – are now dragging him into the trenches.
Although some of the flashier aspects of his game have been dimmed by the passage of time, other qualities – previously not in the spotlight – have been illuminated. As his legs have slowed, DeGale has proved himself to be a true warrior with grit, heart and an admirable capacity to soak up punishment.
Can Eubank Jr. Take Advantage?
Coincidentally, these traits – being tough, game and possessing a solid chin – are what Eubank is well known for. The aggressive Brightonian’s speed, strength and fitness have never been in doubt. What has been questioned, though, is his technical ability and unconventional training set-up.
In both of his losses – to Billy Joe Saunders (sd 12 – Nov 2014) and George Groves (ud 12 – Feb 2018) – Eubank’s flaws were exposed by well-schooled rivals. Against Groves in particular, he simply marched forward impulsively, following his adversary around rather than attempting to cut off the space in a calculated manner. His quick jab can be a useful weapon, but he has regularly been guilty of neglecting this and the fundamentals of the sport. Instead, he has relied on his athleticism to get him through, which, against a certain style and calibre of opposition, is not enough. In recently hiring a full-time trainer (Nate Vasquez) for the first time, Eubank, 27-2 (21), has seemingly acknowledged that a change in approach is necessary.
What Each Must Do To Win
Eubank encountered issues with Groves’ jab, footwork (eliciting wild swings and misses), counter-punching power and physicality, in addition to being hindered by a badly cut eye. While DeGale’s jab is good, it is not as forceful as Groves’. And although he often finds a second wind when required, he has a dangerous habit of retreating to the ropes when the pace takes its toll. Furthermore, the potency of his punches is not as pronounced as that of Groves, nor is he as physically powerful. Eubank will take confidence from this.
If DeGale can make the ring big and frustrate Eubank with his superior skillset, a points victory is all but his. However, if he is forced into a war of attrition, as was the case against the burly Badou Jack (d md 12 – Jan 2017) and Truax (l md 12 – Dec 2017 & w ud 12 – Apr 2018), the advantage lies with Eubank, who is sturdier, more robust and has less miles on the clock. At this stage of DeGale’s career, the second scenario is more likely, so expect a bloody, rugged affair this weekend.
DeGale v Eubank Jr Possible Outcomes
Big money can be made from picking Eubank to win inside schedule. It’s conceivable he will ship his fair share of punishment along the way, but ultimately the relentless pressure he applies can grind his enemy down. With fast, spiteful salvoes ripping into DeGale, and hurtful hooks and uppercuts thudding off his head and torso, the referee might be forced to intervene in the final third of this 12-rounder.
But of course this is Chris Eubank Jnr we’re talking about. He’s come up short on both occasions he’s stepped up and if you doubt his ability to come good this time, particularly against a fighter as gifted and accomplished as DeGale, a points win for the older man is where the value is.
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