By: Waqas Ali
As the war of words continues, only one fighter will have his career going further on fight night and the other could contemplate retirement.
James ‘Chunky’ DeGale will be facing fellow countrymen Chris Eubank Jr at the O2 arena in London, England.
This will be the first time in eight years where DeGale will be facing a British fighter and fighting in that arena.
The bout will be for the IBO super-middleweight belt and will be broadcasted live on ITV Box Office.
The feud between the pair had been going on for more than five years but only last year had the trash talking been taken in serious consideration of a potential bout.
DeGale (25-2-1) won his IBF super-middleweight belt from Caleb Traux in a rematch last year and vacated it in July 2018 in order to pursue a bigger fight paycheck with better opposition.
The current No.5 ranked fighter by Ring Magazine did fight a journeyman named Fidel Muñoz two months after his relinquishment of the IBF title and stopped him in three rounds.
Both DeGale and Eubank Jr had been hinting the other to retire should the other man lose.
Fans of DeGale had been pointing to the fact that DeGale, 33, had lost interest in the fight game. This is in evidence of his previous performances that were shown to be competitive.
The two fights with Traux, in particular, were back and forth exchanges and at one point DeGale was cut above his right eye.
But the Hammersmith-based fighter insisted that he’s not ready to give up yet and is ready to trade shots with Eubank Jr.
He said: “There are a lot of questions hanging over it.
“Is JD shot? Am I on the decline? Is Eubank that good?
“I’m going to give him another chance to see if he’s that good, so it’s spicy.
“Going by my last couple of performances, people will probably say, ‘Yeah, he’s on the decline’, and I can see that.
“But I don’t give up, I’ve got balls, heart and desire — to mix it with the big boys and achieve what I have achieved, you have to heart.
“Eubank has a lot of good attributes. He’s tough, strong, he has a good chin, he doesn’t mind if it gets hard.
“But you need more than that to mix it at the top and become world champion.”
Eubank Jr (27-2), 29, also like DeGale came off a tough battle that questioned his ability with top-level opposition.
He lost to former WBA super-middleweight titlist George Groves in a World Super Series contest in the semi-final and was left with a massive cut in his right eye.
He then fought Irish boxer JJ McDonagh several months later and stopped in three rounds.
The current No.8 ranked Ring Magazine fighter says that DeGale will be well prepared for this all-star domestic clash but this fight could be one step closer retirement for him.
“He’s the type of fighter who rises to the occasion,” Eubank Jr said.
“If he’s got someone he doesn’t respect or fear, then that shows in his performance. He respects me and knows what’s coming, so he’s going to be on form.
“He’s had some hard fights, that’s for sure. It’s one of those things – a fight like this especially against me – could be career ending.
“I’m relentless, I don’t stop. Volume, speed, power, it’s all a dangerous combination, and he knows that.
“But the fact he knows that is why we’re going to see the best James DeGale we’ve seen for a long time.
“He knows I’m a livewire and that I’m dangerous; he knows being ill-prepared is dangerous for his health. I don’t think he’s going to put himself in that position.”
From what the boxing world thinks in the outcome of this fight, the majority have it for Degale.
According to a poll conducted by Boxing News, 55% of voters chose Degale to win on points, 10% by KO and only 21% for Eubank Jr by decision.
But what are the stats, stakes and solutions for each fighter?
Degale stands at 6 feet 0 inches and a reach of 74”. In his last six fights, he’s won four, lost one and drew one. He is a southpaw and his style consists of being an effective counterpuncher. He throws numerous shots to the body and often counters to the head with a left uppercut. Though his knockout ratio stands at a rate of 54%, he does have the ability to knock fighters down.
In terms of the numbers, DeGale throws around 46 punches and lands around 17. His connect rate is at 37% while the average super-middleweight connects at 30% and throws around 53 punches. By the power punches, DeGale lands at 13 with a connect percentage of 43%. While the average super-middleweight lands around 11 with a connect percentage of 37.
Eubank Jr has a reach of 72” and a height of 5 feet 11 inches. His knockout ratio (73%) stands much higher than DeGale’s and in his last six bouts, he won five and lost one. Out of his five wins, four were by KO/stoppages.
Eubank Jr has ferocious speed and ability when it comes to letting his hands go. He is more of an inside fighter and trades with right hands, left hooks and uppercuts. He does lack the power ability of a one-punch knockout finish. This is opposite to his Father Chris Eubank Sr who was known to be a knockout finisher. From a viewing point, Eubank Jr tends to throw a frequent amount of power punches that do not result in a knockout finish but rather a stoppage.
However, by the numbers, Eubank Jr, is highly active. Considering the fact that he throws around 61 punches and lands 21 with a connect rate of 34%. In the power punching department, he lands around 15 with a connect rate of 43%. His opponents landed just 4.4 power punches per round which is less than half the super middleweight average and landing at just 14%. He also likes to provide a bit of showmanship or as others would call it showboating. This can be a psychological factor that is often done by Eubank Jr and many fans find it detesting from their point of view.
Judging by the numbers for both fighters, Eubank Jr has a good activity level and accuracy both in total punches and the power punching rate.
His punches can be as grilling as a chef cooking a grilled chicken. It can be an unbearable amount of heat to take.
For DeGale, one must be aware that his opponents have landed 34% of their power shots on him.
In this particular context, the defence would need improving. This could mean he an easy target to hit – considering the inside exchanges. Based on the whole fight, both fighters know this is a make or break for them. The stakes are high and both fighters will need to be cautious with their punches as well as their styles. This includes speed, timing, accuracy, power and agility. DeGale will need to prove to the world that he’s vacated his belt for the right reasons by fighting Eubank Jr and beating him. For Eubank Jr, he needs to prove that he can compete with the boxing elites and prove that he is a great fighter.