By John J. Raspanti
James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr. will meet Feb.23 at the O2 Arena in London, Eng.
DeGale (25-2-1, 15 KOs) and EuBank (27-2, 21 KOs) have something in common. Neither has looked particularly impressive in their last few fights. DeGale lost his IBF title to heavy underdog Caleb Truax a little over a year ago. He asked for and received a rematch. DeGale prevailed by a close unanimous decision, but he labored at times, and looked sluggish. The same issues plagued him in his last fight, a knockout victory over one Fidel Monterrosa Munoz.
Eubank came up short against George Groves, losing his worthless IBO title. He had talked the talk leading up to his bout with Groves, but had he walked the walk?
Sometimes it’s all an act, but in Eubanks’s case, he seemed to believe his own publicity. He sneered and smirked—displaying an arrogance that belied his talent. EuBank lost by relatively close decision to Groves. In reality, it wasn’t that close. Groves won going away, even fighting with a dislocated shoulder in the last round. It will be interesting to see if EuBank learned from his defeat.
When their fight was announced, DeGale and Eubank had plenty to say.
“This fight has been a long time coming,” DeGale said in an article by Elliot Foster of www.boxingscene.com. “The fans and a lot of people have been calling for this fight and Eubank Jr. has been calling for this fight for some time. When he first turned professional, this guy was calling me out.
“He’s very deluded and on fight night I will get the chance to finish him good and proper because after he has lost to me, I’m not sure where he is going to go. I look forward to it and I hope he is ready.”
“At this stage of my career, big fights and fan-favorite fights are the only thing that I’m looking for,” said Eubank Jr. “It’s going to be a painful lesson for [James]. I’ve been calling for this fight for years, I’ve been training to beat him for years, I know everything about him, I know his weaknesses, and this is going to be fun.”
Fun is a relative word. The bout is must-win for both fighters. Can DeGale stay upright if Eubank catches him? Can Eubank show something more than a one-dimensional attack?
Maybe Eubank is right after all. It will be fun.