By: Ste Rowen
Chris Eubank Jr forced himself into the super-middleweight world scene tonight with a deserved unanimous decision victory over former world champion, James DeGale.
Now improving his record to 28-2 (21KOs), the victor spoke post-fight,
‘‘I knew he was gonna come in there and run and use his boxing skills. I’ve been working a lot on my jab…The game plan worked. Smart pressure. Not getting too ahead of myself.
I dominated pretty much every single round…A lot of people said I was gonna lose, and now I’m onto big and better things.’’
Photo Credit: Showtime Boxing Twitter Account
The defeated DeGale, now 25-3-1 (15KOs), sounding a little dazed also spoke, ‘‘I’ve left my mark in boxing…I didn’t do enough, but when you’re in there with someone like Chris on you; punches you don’t even see.
I’ve been to the heights of boxing. If I call it a day now…’’
It was cold in the O2 Arena, but not for long.
As James DeGale vs. Chris Eubank Jr drew nearer, the atmosphere felt more claustrophobic. As though the crowd was inching their seats forwards every time the stewards looked away. By the time the main-event fighters were in the ring, the audience was practically breathing down their necks.
From the 1st round it was setup perfectly, DeGale in all-black, Eubank in all-white but both decided to size each other up through the first. DeGale, in the southpaw stance, allowed himself to become a little too susceptible to Eubank’s right hand which forced a small cut to James’ left eye early on.
The first minute of round 2 is where the action came alive. Eubank Jr landed a sharp left hook that unsteadied DeGale and, through a flurry of punches, eventually forced the referee into recognising that James had been knocked down. DeGale’s experience was telling as he survived the rest of the round, but it was obvious that Chris was well on top.
In the corner, the former IBF champion was complaining about something in his eye – it was a bad sign for a man already behind. But Eubank, like his opponent, sustained a cut this time under his right eye, it didn’t stop the Brighton-man from ending the 4th the stronger. Through to the 7th, Eubank stalked the perceived boxer across the ring whilst the former gold medallist did very little to reply.
As round 7 ended, DeGale stuck his tongue out to his opponent, which was an odd move considering Chris seemingly bossed the end of the round. DeGale kept switching between southpaw and orthodox, but neither was breaking through.
As the fight headed into the 10th Eubank seemed well on top. DeGale hit the canvas for the second time as Eubank landed a beauty of a left hook that shook up the former world champion, forced James onto the ropes and eventually the ground. DeGale survived, but it was clear he needed the KO, but it was Eubank Jr that came out swinging. By the end of the 11th, career-southpaw DeGale was orthodox and everywhere.
Both fighters raised their arms as the final bell rang but it seemed cleared who’d won. DeGale, the legitimate former world title holder had fallen well short.
Of course it’s never a chore to hear Jimmy Lennon Jr and it wasn’t this time as he read out the judge’s cards of, 114-112, 115-112, 117-109 all for Eubank Jr.
Joe Joyce vs. Bermane Stiverne
Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce took another step up in quality tonight as the British Olympian (2016 Silver) scored a 6th round stoppage of former world champion, Bermane Stiverne.
Dominant from beginning to end, the Commonwealth champion, now 8-0 (8KOs), spoke post-fight,
‘‘Big respect to Stiverne. He was very tough, still game, still tough. Only Wilder with that phenomenal power could take him out…My able condition in Big Bear.
Big things to come. Next one for the WBA ‘Regular’. Couple of weeks off and then back in the gym…I’ve barred all (The top heavyweights) bar Wilder, but I’m coming.’’
In a fight designated as a WBA eliminator Joyce had his chin checked at least twice in the 1st round but seemed unaffected and continued to pursue his prey. His shots may look slow, but Joe’s arms are long and thudding once landed and clearly leave an effect. Stiverne looked apprehensive as he stepped off his stool for the 2nd however he did begin to throw back, but only for a brief spell. The ‘Juggernaut’ fired clubbing shot after clubbing shot without reply for most of the round. Testament to the former world champion, Bermane for staying upright.
Round 3 brought the first knockdown as Joyce landed a lengthy right hook that sent the American into the ropes and forced the knockdown. Bermane continued but it felt pointless. Stiverne looked drunk as he tried to evade Joyce’s heavy combinations but survived into the 6th.
Joe dominated behind the left-hand jab until he seemed to switch flavour and fired hook and power shot continuously, forcing referee Howard Foster into stopping the fight midway through round six. There were no complaints from the away fighter.
Lee Selby vs. Omar Douglas
Fighting in his first lightweight bout, and for a minor title at 135lb, Lee ‘Lightning’ Selby bounced back from his May 2018 defeat to Josh Warrington to rough it out in a twelve round unanimous decision victory over American, Omar Douglas.
‘‘That was one of the toughest.’’ Selby said. ‘‘In the fight I kept on undoing their (His cut-men’s) good work.
Douglas was supposed to be a big puncher and I held his shots well…If my management says I’m fighting Anthony Joshua tomorrow, I wouldn’t turn it down.’’
In his signature white and gold shorts, Selby of Wales, forced an energetic start onto the American. Lee clearly wanted to make an early impression in what was a new division for him. Douglas’ dreads (white at the start but red by the end) were wrapped up much like his hands, so every time Selby landed a clean jab, Omar’s head fired back and made him look like Ridley Scott’s Alien.
But towards the end of round two a bloody cut on the eye of Lee Selby opened up, much like in his fight vs. Warrington. It didn’t stutter his performance for that round, but it did create a new element to the fight. The Welshman continued to fire off well, despite the cut, but it was clear Lee wasn’t as urgent in his offence as before the cut.
Omar has spent his career bouncing between 130-135 and as the rounds drew on he was giving Lee, who’d jumped 9lb in weight, a rough entry into the lightweight division. By the time of the final bell it was close as well as clear that ‘Lightning’ had taken the rough alleyway to enter 135lb.
Final scorecards were 116-112, 116-112, 115-114 all in favour of Lee Selby.