Boxing Insider Interview with Chris Bourke
By: Oliver McManus
Streatham’s Chris Bourke is gearing up for his fifth professional fight, his fourth for the calendar year, on September 14th and the fighter, promoted by Frank Warren, is in no mood to slow his development day. After all his life has been dedicated to the sport since he was 15 years of age, as he began by telling me.
“I went to Balham Boxing Club with one of my pals from school; I was getting into a few scraps at school and my friend said he was going to a boxing gym one day and sort of invited me to keep him company. I remember walking into the boxing gym and seeing the ring, seeing the bags and being a bit overawed but then I started training and it didn’t take long until I was hooked.
And I got hooked even though I used to get beat up in sparring when I first went there, by the bigger lads, and the coach started to take more interest in me because I kept on coming back each day and I think he could see I wasn’t just going to roll over and give up.”
The former Team GB prospect had a dream start to life on the international stage – two first round knockouts in his debut tournament out in Macedonia – despite an initial reluctance to believe he’d be successful at the GB trials. The letter to confirm his place is still held in pride of place at his home and in spite of all the accolades there was always a fervent desire to test himself in the professional ranks.
“It’s a cliche but I’ve always believed my style is better suited to being a professional but being on Team GB sort of kept me amateur for a little bit extra – which I’m grateful for, to be fair, as it kept me fighting at a top level and got me some really good experience. You don’t get mismatches in the amateur, rarely anyway, so that extra time spent competing at the top level can reduce the number of journeymen you need to face a professional and get you into the harder fights quicker.”
Since turning professional, making his debut in December last year, the super bantamweight has made a perfect start – as far as the eye can see – with four knockouts in four fights. All of those wins have come against ferociously durable opposition with his debut culminating in a second round knockout over Ricky Leach.
“I personally believe anyone I hit clean I will hurt but I didn’t know much about Ricky Leach, I left that to Martin (Bowers, Chris’ manager and trainer) but when I got in there I let my hands go and after the first round I thought ‘I’m not going to get rid of him, I’m in for a long night here’, but then I caught him with a head shot and a body shot and that was it. I always want a knockout so that was a good start and I guess I’ve just not stopped since but, actually, my favourite fight was probably the last one (against Ricky Starkey) because we’d boxed as an amateur and I’d beat him so I knew he was going to come to win. He was an awkward person to box because every time I’d catch him he would put his head down but then I caught him with a shot that broke his nose.”
Easy is not a word you can levy lightly at the southpaw, however, with Bourke eager to point out the finished article, no matter how one-sided, is a direct result of consistent hard work with his team at Peacock’s Gym.
“My dad always told me that ‘when you’re small you need something different for people to remember you by’ and I’ve got the power so I might as well use it. It’s a good environment (at Peacock’s) because it’s like a little family with about eight of us that we see everyday. All of the boys besides Daniel are in the same position where they’re chasing the titles and winning fights, and then you’ve got Daniel who’s that step further and winning the titles so it’s a good mix of both.”
Stablemate James Branch (5-0) finds himself on the same card at York Hall next weekend and that synchronicity has added an extra degree of coordination and stability to the build-up for Bourke. Bourke faces Jose Hernandez, no stranger to British shores, and he relishes the opportunity to test himself over a scheduled six rounds.
“There’s so many times I’ve got out of the ring, well as an amateur anyway, and my dad (Dave) would say ‘if there was another round you would have gotten a stoppage there’. I felt that against Ricky Starkey, I got the stoppage because it was six rounds and I’m happy boxing at that length because it gives you time to get the basics out of the way. I’ve been looking at little things, really little things, mainly about my movement so things to do with how I hold my chin after a certain shot so I’ve got areas I’ll be looking to work on even though I’m expected to win.”
Reflecting on the first 12 months as a professional, encompassing fights at Wembley, Mayfair and Bethnal Green, the super bantamweight was content – and I think that’s the fairest assessment of his attitude.
“All I’ve asked from Martin is to keep me busy and we’ve done that, I’ve been fighting almost every other month and that’s good for me because I am a professional boxer. I’m not making any money at the moment, there’s no big money at this stage, so what’s the point in being fussy about when or where I fight – I need to fight regularly and look at the bigger picture. If you’re looking for just one big payday then it is pointless, I want to have a successful career in the long-term so that’s what I’m trying to build at the moment.”
For the next week the focus remains firmly on his Spanish-based, Nicaraguan-born opponent who provides the sternest test of Bourke’s power, as much as anything, to date.
“It’s another six-rounder. I haven’t seen much of Jose but I know he’s a bit heavier than me. I expect him to be tough. I know he’s tough actually, he’s had a few fights and he hasn’t really been stopped. I could be a bit lazier and come in a bit heavier but there’s no point,
I’m just going to box and look for opening and take the openings. If I see a stoppage then I’ll push for it, but as I always do – box behind the jab and try and break him apart.”
Adam Kownacki Stays on World Title Track, Decisions Chris Arreola
By Robert Aaron Contreras
As a part of a Brooklyn homecoming show on FOX, Adam Kownacki (20-0, 15 KO) extended his perfect record against the recognizable slugger Chris Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KO), pouring it on over the entire 12 rounds, a punch output apparently unmatched by any heavyweight fight in the CompuBox history.
The judges had it 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111 for Kownacki, who showcased his talent in front of a familiar partisan crowd at the Barclays Center. Competing there for the ninth time, finally on the main stage.
“I thought it was a good fight,” Kownacki told PBC correspondent Heidi Androl. “Close—but I know I pulled it out. Chris is an Aztec Warrior. I gotta keep sharpening my skills. Hopefully next year I get a title shot.”
The fireworks were off from the opening round. Thee proper heavyweight slugfest, Kownacki chugged along, moving forward behind his jab. Arreola was there to fight. The veteran did his best work up close and personal. Neither man’s fists stopped oscillating.
Almost entirely, and in both directions, the punches remained upstairs. Kownacki continually plugged away at one-two combinations. Hardly bending at the waist, he simply slung leather from an upright stance. Still generating power, his crisp blows reminded champion-turned-broadcaster Deontay Wilder of a poor man’s George Foreman.
Arreola had his own assortment of winging punches. But sometime in the the third round he took back the center of the ring only to have his head snapped back from uppercuts. It was that array of creative punching that was hedging the fight in Kownacki’s favor.
But in the fourth frame, Arreola’s best combo—a sloppy jab followed by an awkward, stiff overhand right—did find its target. Between rounds, his trainer Dan Goosen’s implored his fighter to double up on his punches.
Kownacki, however, outworked the older man. He strung together punches from every angle. His one-two began to vary, not always ending in a straight right hand but also the occasional chopping blow. He pelted away at the giant in front of him at a rate that amazed even heavyweight legend Lennox Lewis who was commentating ringside.
The opposing heavyweights mixed it up through the middle stages. And in the ninth round, Kownacki had seemed to make a dent in Arreola, who would drop his hands, and step back in exhaustion (or despair) with every exchange. Up close, Kownacki adjusted and took advantage of Arreola putting his head down, drumming the sides of the Mexican-American’s head.
Pushing 270 pounds, Kownacki had never seen the championship rounds of 11 and 12. So Arreola thought he was out of gas and sat back, willing to catch blows, waiting—one, two three shots bouncing off of him—and then return singular punches of his own.
In the end, Kownacki still delivered more accurate shots, more often. He connected on 35 percent of his total punches, compared to 26 percent for Arreola. Together, Compubox numbers recorded over 2,000 punches between both of them.
Arreola, 38, was still happy with his work. And, as it turned out, his career too.
“I honestly feel like it’s about time,” Arreola said, suggesting his retirement. “I let it hang out. Even after breaking my hand—there was no quitting. I know I cracked him with a few punches. But he kept coming.”
Kownacki, 30, is on an opposite trajectory. Now in prime position for a world title. Saturday marked his second victory of 2019, coupled with a quick knockout in January of Gerald Washington. He ranks in the Top 5 by both the WBC and IBF, making him eligible to fight either one of the world’s beltholders in Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr.
Jean Pascal upsets Marcus Browne for light heavyweight title
Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KO) rolled into Browne’s (23-1, 18 KO) backyard to take away his WBC light heavyweight belt—overcoming +1300 odds—knocking down the champion three times and eventually mauling him in the latter stages of a fight that would come to a screeching halt in the eighth period from a clash of heads.
Browne, dethroned, and blood above his eye, was not in the ring to hear the technical decision: 75-74 across the board for Pascal, who reclaimed championship gold at 36 years old.
“I dropped him three times,” Pascal said after the fight. “Even though it was close, I was winning the fight. We have the best rapper in the game—Drake. We have the NBA championship. And now I’m taking the light heavyweight belt back to Canada.”
Canadian faithful must have been holding their breath through the first three rounds, their man Pascal clearly on the losing end. Browne and his challenger traded power blows in the opening round, but Browne secured a lead, jabbing, and throwing at a higher output.
It was the same routine in the fourth frame. More jolting jabs from Browne before he began sitting down on winging lefts that backed up Pascal. But overconfident, he never saw the right hand Pascal would uncork later in the round that stretched out the champion.
Browne popped up and flashed a wide grin, beating the count, wherein Pascal chased him around with punches to close the inning.
The action picked up in the fifth, highlighted by a handful of phone booth exchanges. But with an adjustment, aiming punches to the midsection, Browne seemed to have stolen back the momentum, nicking the next two rounds.
As Pascal’s output continue to dwindle, Browne racked up more points: extending his right hand and timing a slashing left hook into Pascal leaning over. But lo! another buzzing right hand eventually clipped Browne, dropping him—again.
The champ got up smiling—deja vu setting in. But he was back on the canvas before the end of the seventh from a short exchange along the ropes, his legs unsteady.
Pascal did what he had to in the eighth round, bullying his opponent, chippy shots reigning down from all over. Just enough to snatch the remaining moments of this grudge match.
Eventually, the opposing fighters leaned into one another, a burst of sweat exploded from their colliding foreheads. Referee Gary Rosado immediately called for the ringside physician and the title tilt was over.
There was not word from Browne, who left early to lick his wounds. Tragic happenstance following his last fight, a title winning performance over Badou Jack, who was similarly cut open—cartoonishly gashed across the forehead.
PBC on FOX Doubleheader: Kownacki, Browne Meet Notable Opponents
By: Robert Aaron Contreras
On Saturday, August 3, PBC on FOX was due for a tripleheader from the Barclays Centers in Brooklyn, New York where a trio of big names would have carefully matched opponents in front of them.
Now with former welterweight champion Andre Berto out, Adam Kownacki, who takes on Chris Arreola, and light heavyweight beltholder Marcus Browne, fighting Jean Pascal, are bolstering the bill on their own.
The FOX broadcast begins at 8 p.m. ET.
Adam Kownacki vs. Chris Arreola
Kownacki is more than familiar with the Barclays Center, having been born in Poland but becoming a man in Brooklyn. He competed there eight times on his way to this pivotal moment, his first headliner on such a grand stage.
And despite no championship belt on the line, his hometown backing puts him and Arreola in the main event.
The 30-year-old Kownacki (19-0, 15 KO) is a banger, always looking to string together chippy punches from every angle. His appearance earned him the nickname Babyface. He has compiled a nice resume, one of B-level talent like Artur Szpilka and a former beltholder in Charles Martin, putting him in line to take a crack at the world level sooner rather than later. In January of this year, he jumped Gerald Washington—again on primetime FOX.
The Polish puncher took out Washington in under four minutes. Quicker work than even Deontay Wilder had with Washington. Kownacki could beat Wilder’s KO mark again if he takes Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KO) out in less than eight rounds.
Arreola, 38, took a lumping from Wilder, who injured his dominate hand, and didn’t make it out of the corner for the ninth period. It was title opportunities like that that make Arreola
arguably Kownacki’s most notable opponent, even if that doesn’t mean the best.
Arreola is back mainstream TV for reasons that are hard to understand outside of simply being a heavyweight. One who used to have a good chin. But one that can punch a little and fights in the same mold as his younger counterpart.
He has never shied away from the spotlight. His is a spotty record since being promoted as possible the man to claim that notional title of first Mexican heavyweight champion before being easily stamped out by Vitali Klitschko. He relied on that heritage and slapdash soundbites to keep him in business and eventually a mainstay with the PBC.
Marcus Browne vs. Jean Pascal
WBA champion Marcus Browne (23-0, 16 KO) is one of a quartet of remarkably talented light heavyweight champions. With Artur Beterbiev scheduled to unify two belts with Gvozdyk, the American of the bunch it could be said is fighting them as much as he is Jean Pascal (33-6-1, 20 KO), to the extent tat as they are all compared against each other for recognition of the true 175-pound kingpin.
Pascal, 36, was once the lineal light heavyweight ruler. That was a decade ago. Still in the Year of Our Lord 2019 this weekend will mark the second consecutive world title challenge for Pascal, of Canada. Despite falling way short against an operator like Dmitry Bivol, the respected former champ has the pull and reputation to remain relevant in the title picture.
Browne, Staten Island’s own, was on big promoter’s wishlist coming out of the London Olympics. He has spent time with Golden Boy Promotions and like many other East Coast talent thriving under Lou DiBella for a stint. Browne’s highlight being a first-round knockout of longstanding gatekeeper Gabriel Campillo
Fighting out of New York, Browne signed with Golden Boy out of the London Olympics. But soon like most east coast fighters, he thrived under Lou Dibella. The highlight being a first-round thumping of longstanding gatekeeper Gabriel Campilloin 2015. But a fickle decision over puncher Radivoje Kalajdzic that left a sour taste in the mouth of fight fans who then became ready to scrutinize Browne as an overhyped prospect. His reoccurring legal trouble were no help.
Browne eventually stomped Thomas Williams Jr. in six rounds as well as the previously undefeated Sean Monagham, also of New York. Now campaigning with Al Haymon’s crew, Browne can boast an incredible win over Badou Jack, a star-making unanimous decision victory.
Still undefeated and untouched, Browne can only hurt himself this weekend. No matter how ferociously he takes out a reputable veteran like Pascal, the Canadian is a shell of his former self—hardly throwing punches these days. The matchup pales in comparison to a delectable unification like Beterbiev-Gvozdyk.
Browne should keep an eye out on the winner.
Adam Kownacki and Chris Arreola Discuss Their Showdown
By: Hans Themistode
The Heavyweights are taking over Brooklyn New York, as both Adam Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) and Chris Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KOs) will headline the Barclay Center, this coming Saturday on August 3rd.
With the Heavyweight division now seemingly wide open, this will be perfect opportunity for both men to make a statement. For Kownacki it is especially memorable for him to be headlining a card in his hometown of Brooklyn.
“I feel blessed. I grew up there, I grew up in Brooklyn,” said Kownacki. “It’s a big deal to be the headliner. Having all my friends, all my family, my community being there having my back. It’s very rewarding.”
Kownacki’s story may have a feel good theme to it, but his opponent, Chris Arreola, won’t allow there to be a happy ending.
“I’m looking to knock him out,” said Arreola during a recent media conversation. “He’s a really good fighter but right now he’s in my way. I still have championship goals in my head and I know that if I can beat this guy then I’ll get another crack at a world title.”
For Kownacki, he has placed himself on a specific pathway. Current WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder is who the undefeated Kownacki currently has his eyes set on. Arreola will represent the third opponent that both Kownacki and Wilder have fought in their respective careers.
Kownacki does not want to simply stop Arreola, but he wants to do so in a much more dominant fashion than what Wilder did to him when they matched up in 2016. In that contest Wilder dropped Arreola in the fourth and stopped him in the eighth round.
“I have been with two guys that Deontay Wilder fought with Artur Szpilka and Gerald Washington,” said Kownacki. “It took Wilder ten rounds to knock out Artur Szpilka in a very competitive fight when I just walked right through him. And the same thing with Gerald Washington. I knocked him out in two rounds. My next fight against Chris Arreola, another fight Wilder and I have in common, and I plan to do the same thing, walk right through him. I think if I could beat him in a better fashion than Deontay beat him before, then that’s a good statement!”
A shot at a title would undoubtedly be awaiting the winner of this contest. Kownacki just might be coming into this contest even more motivated than ever. Earlier this week he revealed that he had received a phone call a few months ago to be an opponent for former unified Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s U.S. debut. Kownacki turned down the fight. Stating that he was not in shape at that moment.
We all have seen what has happened since then as Andy Ruiz took the opportunity and went on to knock Joshua out in the seventh round. Kownacki does have a few regrets about missing out on his shot, and vows to never allow that to happen again.
“I’m making sure I stay in shape from now on. When I seen Andy Ruiz pull off the upset against Joshua I was just thinking that it should have been me. I only turned down the fight because it was short notice and I was not in shape at that time. I’ll make sure I am ready at all times now.”
With a motivated Kownacki, Arreola seems to be in a world of trouble come fight night. Still, this is a fight he can’t afford to lose. If he does however, come up short against Kownacki, then this will mark the end of his 16 year pro career.
“If I lose this fight, I will retire, plain and simple” said Arreola.
With so much riding on the line, expect this contest to be bombs away from the opening bell.
Chris Jenkins: Boxing Keeps Bringing Me Back
By: Oliver McManus
British welterweight champion Chris Jenkins has had a slightly clouded few months as he sought a date to fight, mandatory challenger, Liam Taylor. The fight was expected to take place in September at some point but the interluding period has seen a fresh challenge presented to the Welshman; he’ll face Paddy Gallagher for the British and Commonwealth titles on August 3rd. We began by discussing how the fight came about.
“We’ve been waiting for the Liam Taylor fight because he’s the mandatory but I had a little niggle after the Garton fight so that kept on getting pushed back. I think MTK approached Gary (Lockett) about fighting Paddy for the Commonwealth title or some other sort of belt and the answer from us was ‘yes’, simple as. I just want the fights, now, so this was another title I could fight for and then the Board (BBBofC) decided they’d sanction it in a double-whammy and that made it even sweeter. I’ll have had (roughly) five and a half, six weeks of preparation come fight night.”
Jenkins won the British title with a peerless technical display against Johnny Garton in March, at the fabled Royal Albert Hall, in the defining fight of his career thus far. It was a case of ‘third time lucky’ for the product of Cwmgors Amateur Boxing Club, having had two bouts with Tyrone Nurse, and a result that is still hard to fully reconcile with.
“If you’d asked me last year, not one bit would I expect to be talking to you as British champion (after suffering back-to-back technical decisions to Akeem Ennis Brown and Darragh Foley). I was close to walking away, I really was, I had to look for other things that could provide a stable living for my family but boxing kept on bringing me back.”
“I’ve had more downs than I have had ups in (my) career”, he continued, “and I would have walked away from the sport but for Gary (Lockett). He kept on telling me ‘look, give it one more shot’ and the fight against Garton proved him right. It’s been worth it, it has, but it’s not always felt worth it. I’ve always wanted to win the British title but for a while I didn’t believe I ever would; now I have got it, I’m not letting anyone take it.
The British belt, which Jenkins has craved since turning professional, didn’t stay, physically, in his possession for little over a couple weeks with the Board returning it to their safekeeping. A disappointing moment of reality for Jenkins but one that he is using as added motivation for getting the win on August 3rd.
“We had a photo shoot with myself, Joe Cordina and Liam Williams with our belts to showcase the Welsh champions but after (that) the Board took it back to their headquarters in Cardiff. It’s been up there for the last few months and that upset me a little bit, I won’t lie, because of everything it represents but I was expecting it – they don’t want it damaged, do they? To be fair it just makes me want to win on the 3rd even more so I can have it on the dinner table for another couple weeks before they come and take it again!”
A relatively fresh face at welterweight, winning the title in just his second fight at the division, Jenkins had campaigned at super lightweight since turning professional – fighting for five belts along the way – but is firmly enjoying life in his new division. Ironically the additional seven pounds is proving a weight of his shoulders.
“I’m feeling much better (at welterweight) because I can be a little bit naughtier on the weekends if I really want to be and I don’t have to completely ban anything nice from my diet. I’ve learned over the last year with Gary, constantly, about how to go about making the weight and it’s a lot easier, a lot easier, than super lightweight. I was never starving myself but now I’m 30 it’s one less thing I’ve got to worry about in the build up to fights and, if we’re honest, that probably buys me another couple of fights in my career.”
Now Gary Lockett is a nap that rolls of Jenkins’ tongue constantly sandwiched in between hearty praise for the former WBU champion (WBC & WBO challenger). Lockett, now an established trainer, has been beside Jenkins for countless years and their bond goes well beyond ‘teacher and student’ – their is genuine care and friendship between the two. More recently Frank Warren has hopped on board the ‘Jenkins Express’ – destination ‘anyfight, anywhere’ – and those sensible heads are an added bonus for the final third of Jenkins’ career.
It’s not a bad team I’ve got around me; Gary’s been around the game for a while and has experience up to world level, Frank likewise and it’s obviously easier to make fights with his backing and Mo (Prior, his manager) is a great guy, he’s got a huge heart and would drop everything to help me out. They’re good people and I genuinely think they want me to do well, as their first priority, obviously they can get some money out of my success but it’s not that sort of a relationship. Gary and Mo have been by my side for a long time, when I wasn’t making money from the sport, so that’s how I know they want me to do well.”
All of that existence in the boxing bubble of society is going to be brought to a halt, however, promptly after the fight against Paddy Gallagher – regardless of the result. Retirement isn’t looming, fear not, but a well deserved holiday. There are boxing implications stemming from that, mind, with the BBBofC having mandated either the winner of himself and Gallagher to defend against Liam Taylor by the end of September. For Jenkins he hopes common sense can prevail.
“There will be no training whilst I’m on holiday for two weeks and we’ll have to talk about my options when I come back. I think Taylor fully deserves to fight for the British title, I really do, but After the Garton fight I couldn’t throw a punch for about five, six weeks so, for obvious reasons, that hasn’t been possible to do since. In an ideal world I’d like to fight him in November, December but we’ll go to the Board should I get the win against Paddy. You’d like to think common sense would come out on top, I’ve had this holiday booked for ages and anything could happen against Paddy – cuts, injuries, that sort of thing.”
Looking slightly further afield than the inbound Spanish sunset that the British champion is set to bask in, the 30 year old has a very simple goal and motivation for his ‘purple patch’ and they don’t get more grounded than the desire to better the life of his family.
“The plan is to keep fighting for titles because I know I’m not going to be a world champion, I know that. I’m realistic with my ability and I also know I’m 30 years old – nearly 31 – do you know what I mean? I don’t want to be fighting in meaningless eight rounders anymore, I want to make something of myself. That’s the main objective – to stay active and start making some money from the sport, I’ve got a family that I need to look after and keep happy after all is said and done. The (British title) is my bread and butter so as long as I’ve got that in my grasp you won’t see me walking away from the sport.”
Adam Kownacki vs. Chris Arreola Full Fight Card Press Conference Recap
By: Hans Themistode
On Saturday August 3rd, the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York, will play host to a night of boxing. In the first televised bout of the night, it will be former Light Heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (33-6-1, 20 KOs) against WBA interim Light Heavyweight champion Marcus Browne (23-0, 16 KOs).
Throughout the long and storied career of Pascal he has never ducked a challenge. He is looking to once again challenge for a world title, but now, at age 36, many have wondered if he has anything left in the tank.
“I’ve heard all of the talk of me being washed up, come August 3rd, I’ll show you how washed up I am.” Said Pascal.
His challenger Marcus Browne, conceded to Pascal that he does hold the edge in terms of experience but that won’t matter come fight night.
“He’s a former champion and I respect what he has done in the ring but he’s way past his prime. I’m knocking him out come fight night.”
As for the co main event, there will be no shortage of fireworks. Former two time Welterweight champion Andre Berto (32-5, 24 KOs) will return to the ring after a year off to take on Miguel Cruz (18-1, 12 KOs). For the former champion, he was last seen in the ring winning a close split decision over fellow former champion Devon Alexander. A win over Cruz could vault Berto right back into the title hunt.
“A win over Cruz would be big time for me. It’s all about keeping that momentum. I’m always in the championship mix, so I know a win could mean a title shot is coming pretty soon,” said Berto.
For Cruz the thought of him losing the second bout of his career hasn’t entered his mind. Instead, he believes that his time is now.
“Berto had his run, he’s old now. I need a win like this on my resume. I can’t let this opportunity pass me by.”
The first two fights on this card will bring excitement to the Brooklyn crowd but, the main event is sure to leave everyone on the edge of their seats.
Three time world Heavyweight title changer Chris Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KOs) is pushing all of his chips to the middle of the table. The 38 year old has received multiple cracks at a world title but has fallen short. He’s now hoping that a win over the undefeated Adam Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) will lead him to one more shot at gold.
“If I can beat a guy like Kownacki it’ll put me right back in position to challenge for a world title,” said Arreola during his Brooklyn, New York, press conference. “He’s one of the hottest guys in the division right now so if I can beat him then I’ll be in a real good position. This is do or die for me. If I lose this fight then I will retire. He will not beat me come August 3rd.”
To say that Kownacki is on an impressive run would be putting it mildly. He has knocked out five of his past six opponents. Kownacki has a goal in mind. He is slowly but effectively placing himself in position to challenge WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Arreola will be the third opponent that both Wilder and Kownacki have in common. Kownacki has successfully been able to stop his previous two common opponents in, Gerald Washington and Artur Szpilka in faster and more devastating fashion than the current WBC champion. The undefeated contender will look too out due Wilder once again.
“The most important thing is to get the win, but with this being the third opponent that me and Wilder have in common, I’m hoping to knock him out faster than what Wilder did. I know Arreola is tough but I need to make a statement.”
The common theme in all of these matchups are, making a statement. On August 3rd, they will all receive their chance.
Has Chris Eubank Junior Graduated to the Seniors?
By G.E. Simons
At the end of February, Chris Eubank Jnr. beat gold medal Olympian and former two-time IBF super-middleweight champion of the world, James DeGale, into retirement and earned a signature win in a curious career so far, which has generated column inches, the airbrushing of defeats and a rain of dollars earned.
Junior, like his decorated father, just has that thing – it is undefinable, a lightning rod from Queensbury, infuriating, probably possibly impossible to deal with but vital and engaging at the same time.
Photo Credit: Ian Walton/SHOWTIME
Very few wish to sit down at the negotiating table with the Eubanks but their enigma is such that the same very few are not prepared to nip them out of the conversation all together. And fewer still embargo the opportunity to share a ring with the descendant of British boxing royalty.
But how good is Chris Eubank Jnr., how far can he go in the glittering duo of the middle and super-middleweight divisions which he is currently straddling, and is it possible for him to step out of the haute couture shadow of his truly, eccentrically iconic bloodline.
On one hand, what is there not to like?
Junior speaks with eloquence, eschews profanity, fully understands the mechanics of the black mirror generation and fights like a savage.
On the other, critics speak of nepotistic privilege, a lack of schooling and the most basic of foundation skills, narcissistic arrogance and even a dangerous ambivalence towards the dangers of the fistic art and its ramifications.
Chris Eubank Jnr. began his boxing apprenticeship in the US through an unusual familial arrangement which saw him move stateside and reside with a legal guardian in Irene Hutton, which also delivered a dual citizenship.
The young Eubank’s pugilistic genesis however, couldn’t have begun under much better tutelage, in working out of the Las Vegas gymnasium of Hall of Fame middleweight Mike McCullum, wo said of his charge, “Everything has worked out perfectly. In a few years, England is going to have another world champ named Eubank. I go in the ring with him and he’s skillful, but he can also bang.”
An amateur career began in 2007 and a mere seven fights later he claimed the Golden Gloves title for the state of Nevada and compiled a 24-2 record in the unpaid ranks before turning professional in 2011.
Back in the UK as a fledgling pro, the services of Brighton fight game don, Ronnie Davies were retained along with a presence, mentorship and guidance from Eubank Snr. of course. But who did what, who listened to who and what plans were planned is very much up for conjecture and whatever the what, why or where, was Junior really listening anyway?
His first 18 fights were the usual trade-learning, opposition-vetting, road-bleeding, hand-raising tour of scattered British leisure centres and arenas with a detour to Denmark for a victory along the way.
So far, was so good for an aspiring pro with burgeoning buzz, name value and an increasing presence in the one-to-watch and man most likely column.
But then came Billy Joe Saunders on a cold November night and a London acid test at the docklands ExCel Arena to contest the British, European and Commonwealth middleweight titles.
This was the first real test of the junior Eubank’s abilities as a professional and to be fair, Billy Joe’s as well, although he had operated in better company with wins over Gary ‘Spike” O’ Sullivan and Nick Blackwell on his record heading into this one.
A real fight of two halves saw Saunders befuddle, shut out and shutdown Eubank over 6 opening rounds and then defend that with some scares and enhanced aggression from his opponent through the closing 6, before inflicting a split decision loss on him.
Scores of 115-114 and 115-113 for Saunders and 116-113 for Eubank Jnr. were difficult to argue with and agreement with the outcome is probably dependent on whether you prefer your boxing served cultured or aggressively.
Speaking with SKY Sports in 2016, Eubank said of the fight, “I wasn’t battered or shown up. I made the mistake of not pressing him early, pacing myself too much because it was my first 12-round fight.”
A good assessment and a fair one against a skilled operator in Billy Joe Saunders who went on to claim the WBO world middleweight title from Andy Lee and defended it with a signature victory in a hometown humbling of David Lemieux in Quebec.
For his part, Eubank went on to win eight straight in increasingly impressive style against solid opposition including the then unbeaten Dmitrii Chudinov, Gary ‘Spike’ O’ Sullivan, Arthur Abraham and Avni Yildrim, the latter as part of the lucrative World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) super middleweight tournament.
A run which also included his capture of the British middleweight title in a savagely and tragically one-sided encounter with Nick Blackwell.
His show reel third round knockout of Turkey’s come-forward Yildrim set up a WBSS semi-final against the venerable WBA world champion at the weight in George Groves and represented a second step up to challenge at elite level.
Groves produced a mercurial performance in a unanimous points victory which made a mockery of his underdog status going into the fight and showed perhaps even more than the Saunders defeat, the inability of Eubank to deal with a moving, technically correct and knowing elite-level opponent.
However, the defeat did reiterate Eubank’s own attributes of iron will, proper toughness, punch volume and unerring willingness. And the changes that he seems to have now made in the aftermath of that second defeat will perhaps now combine as the cornerstones to build a final sparkling act to his career.
A rust shaking blow-out victory over the tough but outgunned JJ McDonagh on the undercard of the WBSS final in Jeddah at the end of 2018 returned Eubank to winning ways which takes us right back to the DeGale victory.
In the build-up, James DeGale described their ITV pay-per-viewer as the ‘retirement fight’ and whilst Eubank refused to even say the R word, he knew it was so.
And so it proved to be with DeGale indeed retiring in the days after 12 torrid rounds where he saw the last echoes of his skills shredded, tasted the canvas twice and looked pretty unsteady from the second round onwards.
Though he refused to admit it, Eubank knew that a defeat to a third opponent from the elites in DeGale, albeit a corroded one, would surely confine him to that frustrating tier of ability sandwiched between too good for European but not good enough for World level.
Such did he know this, that he looked for the first time to galvanise and build on those cornerstone attributes that he had shown in defeat to Saunders and Groves by appointing a new trainer, his first officially, in Nate Vasquez.
Vasquez, a Mayweather Boxing Club coach with form, seemed to have the ear of Eubank and his respect too. Whether Junior’s claims of self-tutoring up to appointing him are entirely true or not is a slippery one but he certainly listened to his new trainer’s instructions between rounds and looked to implement them.
So, the question now is, with victory over James DeGale and a public ability to take instructions and schooling from a new voice in the team, has Chris Eubank Junior finally graduated to the seniors?
He probably has.
However, that new voice in the team will no longer be that of Nate Vasquez, who speaking with SKY Sports in April confirmed that he had heard through word-of-mouth that Eubank Jnr. is now training with Virgil Hill in California.
“I don’t know if jumping trainers will help him. You can’t learn if you’re jumping trainers from time to time. If you go from trainer to trainer to trainer, it’s not good.”
Vasquez has not heard directly from Eubank following their work together for the DeGale fight, but is pragmatic, “I got the best win of his career with him. I’m not mad at him if he goes to another trainer.”
And with that the spread of possible next opponents is as broad as it is appetising, where win lose or draw he will make turnstiles spin and PPV tills ring for two or three more legacy fights at least.
A rematch with Billy Joe Saunders does great numbers and would be an intriguing match-up with both having improved since first they met. Whilst the unbeaten WBA champion Callum Smith would offer another intriguing civil war in the UK.
At 34, WBC champion Andre Dirrell offers an interesting option too in what is a really winnable one, as does the largely untested Caleb Plant, Tennessee’s unbeaten IBF belt holder.
Let’s also not forget the shadows cast and opportunities posed by Golovkin and Canelo whose radar Eubank has bleeped several times in the past
Speaking with talkSPORT Radio following the DeGale victory, Chris told the station, “For me, I’m 29 years old, I’m in the prime of my career and there’s just so much more that I wanna achieve. So many more belts that I want to collect, so I’m definitely looking now for the big names in the middleweight and the super-middleweight division.”
And that’s about the size of it.
Chris Eubank Junior always possessed every ingredient to make a massive impact except perhaps the technical seniority to worry the elite and cause trouble in the world title mix. Victory over James DeGale has given him that, his team is bolstered, his attitude has matured and his commercial alliance with ITV Boxing and PBC combine to make him a real player.
Whether this has been partly built with a victory over the carrion remains of what James DeGale had left rather than what Eubank has recently acquired remains to be seen but it will certainly be exciting and entertaining to find out.
Follow G.E. Simons on Twitter @GESimonsBoxing
What’s Next For Chris Eubank Junior?
By: Hans Themistode
Chris Eubank Jr. (28-2, 21 KOs) got the biggest win of his career this past weekend when he knocked down former champion James DeGale (25-3-1, 15 KOs) twice and thoroughly dominated the contest. For Eubank Jr it was a win that he desperately needed. The story around him was that he looks like a world beater when he faces lesser opponents but when he steps up his level of competition he has failed.
It’s hard to argue against it as Eubank Jr had lost his two biggest fights of his career in George Groves and Billy Joe Saunders. Many had already written off his chances at winning. DeGale after all had the experience and pedigree advantages. Eubank Jr made a huge statement by putting on a dominant performance. Sure he picked up the IBO Super Middleweight title in the process but most importantly he proved that he can indeed raise his game when need be.
So where exactly does he go from here? Is he one of the best in the division? It’s hard to say. Was DeGale a shot fighter? It sure seemed like it. Regardless if he was or wasn’t Eubank Jr now has a signature win under his belt and a long list of fighters that he can take on next. Let’s take a look at who exactly that should be.
Over on the other side of the world Anthony Dirrell captured the WBC Super Middleweight title for the second time in his career with a win over Avni Yildirim this past weekend. It was a contest that was very close and had to be stopped in the tenth round due to a massive cut over the left eye of Dirrell due to a headbutt. That cut lead to the premature stoppage of the fight with Dirrell taking home the close victory. While Dirrell fought a back and forth affair with Yildirim, Eubank Jr dominated him when they matched up in 2017 to the tune of a third round knockout. The IBO title that Eubank Jr now possesses is not viewed as a major title. The WBC belt however is one of if not the most prestigious in all of boxing. If Eubank Jr can win against someone the caliber of Dirrell and snag the WBC title in the process then that would be a major statement.
Billy Joe Saunders
The former Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (27-0, 13 KOs) has decided to move up to the Super Middleweight division for his next contest to take on Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO title. If Saunders comes out on top in that matchup as many expect than a rematch with his domestic rival Eubank Jr who he out pointed in 2014 would be must see television.
Since their first matchup Saunders has gone on to become one of the best boxers in the entire sport. His attitude might rub the boxing community the wrong way but his skill is undeniable. In a rematch Saunders would be the odds on favorite. With that being said however, Eubank Jr has proved that he has matured and can cause anyone issues in the ring. These two don’t like each other which only adds fuel to their rivalry. Let’s hope we get this rematch sooner rather than later.
Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) cemented himself as arguably the best in the Super Middleweight when he lifted the Muhammad Ali trophy by defeating George Groves in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series.
Smith has the boxing ability and power that can see him rule over the division for quite some time. Eubank Jr however would beg to differ as he feels as though he is the best that the division has to offer. Did I mention that both Smith and Eubank Jr are both from the United Kingdom which makes this matchup even more intriguing. Eubank Jr wants to be known as the best Super Middleweight in the world but in order to prove that he will need to defeat Callum Smith.
Showtime Boxing Results: Eubank Defeats DeGale, Joyce Batters Stiverne
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.
James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr: Make It or Break It
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.
Algieri Aims For World Title Shot
By: Sean Crose
“I see World title fights for me this year, “former WBO junior welterweight champion Chris Algieri says. “The key is being active. I want to fight every other month, so the focus is win on January 18, get another fight in March and just keep building.” Algieri, who took several years off from the ring, returned last November by besting Angel Hernandez in Algieri’s hometown of Huntington, Long Island. Now the 22-3 New Yorker is set to face Danny Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Center on the 18th of this month. The fight will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service here in the United States.
“Words cannot express how excited I am to get back into the ring just seven weeks after my long awaited return to the ring,” Algieri says. “On top of that excitement I will(be) fighting in New York City at the world famous Madison Square Garden that will be seen live on the premier sports streaming network DAZN.” Algieri made his name when he stunned Ruslan Provodnikov for the junior welterweight championship in 2014. His next fight, however, was a one sided loss in the welterweight division to all-time great Manny Pacquiao.
Following two more losses to top names Amir Khan, and Errol Spence, Algieri stepped away from the ring for around two and a half years, working as a nutritionist, sometimes for noted fighters like Daniel Jacobs. Now that he’s returned and has another win on his resume, the 34-year-old vet is eager to move forward in the division of his past glory – junior welterweight. “I will prepare to be my absolute best,” he says. “I will bring my all and I fight with the heart and tenacity that the boxing public has come to know and love. January 18 is going to be a glorious night and I am sure my strong Long Island contingent will be loud and proud!”
Algieri is particularly happy to be facing the 17-1-1 Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden. “If you ask any fighter in the world and they will all tell you – there is just something inherently special about fighting at The Garden,” he says.” This fight represents another step towards my ultimate goal of regaining my World title at Super Lightweight. I understand the magnitude of this event and know that at this stage of my career each fight is the most important of my life”.
DeGale-Eubank Jr. Feb. 23 Grudge Match Launches PBC UK Debut
By Jake Donovan
James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr. finally get to settle things in the ring.
The pair of British super middleweights and longtime domestic rivals will collide on February 23 at The O2 in London, with the bout formally announced at a press conference held on site Thursday afternoon.
“I’d like to say how personally proud I am of this new relationship between Premier Boxing Champions and ITV,” stated promoter Richard Poxon, whose Poxon Sports will present the event live on ITV Box Office in the UK. “This is a fantastic all British super-middleweight fight that takes us back to the glory days on ITV.
“For the first British event (under the new deal between PBC and ITV), it’s probably the most anticipated event of recent years. This has every ingredient to be a great event. We’re looking forward to the buildup and of course looking forward to a great fight.”
There will be far less at stake than was the case when the two were first on each other’s radar. In the time that has passed since interest in such a grudge match first made the rounds, DeGale (25-2-1) has won, lost, regained and vacated a super middleweight title.
Meanwhile, Eubank Jr. (27-2, 21KOs) will enter fight night barely a year removed from his disappointing points loss to George Groves in their title fight last February. A win would’ve advanced the second-generation boxer into the World Boxing Super Series finals versus Callum Smith; instead, it left him without a career-defining win and a lot to prove.
It also made it easier to finalize terms to face DeGale, a fitting debut for PBC expanding its brand to the United Kingdom four years after its initial U.S. launch in 2015.
“At this stage of my career, big fights, fan-favorite fights are all that I’m after,” Eubank Jr. said during Thursday’s press conference. “This fight has been 4-5 years in the making.”
Of course, being the son of legendary former two-division titlist Chris Eubank Sr. made him recognizable name from the moment he turned pro in 2011. What caught the eye of his upcoming opponent, though, was Eubank Jr’s awareness of those around him at that time.
“This fight has been a long time coming,” acknowledges DeGale, a 2008 Olympic Gold medalist for Great Britain and two-tour super middleweight titlist. “A lot of people have been calling for this fight. Chris has been calling for this fight.
“When the guy first turned pro, he was calling me out. He’s very deluded and now I’ve finally got the chance to deal with this guy, good and proper.”
The moment will come without a major belt on the line. DeGale regained his title in a points win over Caleb Truax last April after suffering a shocking loss to the American in Dec. ’17, which initially ended his 2 ½ year title reign.
His first title win was a historic moment, becoming the first ever Olympic Gold medalist from Great Britian to win a major title in outpointing Andre Dirrell in their May ’15 clash.
The second tour was short-lived and without fanfare or even a single defense. DeGale opted to vacate in order to search for bigger fights rather than be contractually bound to a mandatory title defense versus Jose Uzcategui. Among the bouts discussed was an eventual showdown with Eubank Jr., a fight that was factored into PBC moving forward with its long-discussed plans of launching its brand in the U.K. market.
Both boxers took on separate tune-ups in the interim, each scoring 3rd round knockouts just two days apart. Eubank Jr’s return to the win column came in an uninspiring stoppage of JJ McDonagh last September in Saudi Arabia, on the undercard of Smith’s knockout win over Groves to win the WBSS super middleweight tournament.
Two days later, DeGale claimed an early hit of Mexico’s Fidel Monterrosa in a bout buried deep on the non-televised portion of a PBC on FS1 show in California.
Little was made of either contest, other than marking time for their eventual head-on collision. Whereas such a fight could have arguably declared the best super middleweight in the world a year or two ago, the February 23 clash has become must-win for both boxers.
“We can call this the retirement fight,” DeGale repeatedly insisted during Thursday’s press conference. “Whoever loses, can knock it on the head. Call it a retirement fight because whoever loses, game over.”
The sentiment wasn’t exactly shared on the other side of the dais.
“Speak for yourself, James,” Eubank Jr. quipped of the notion. “James is talking about retirement. That thought has never entered my mind.”
What has entered his mind, however, was getting game-ready for this bout and functionally for the rest of his career. The 29-year old admits to having been self-trained for his past few contests, but will enter this under the watchful eye of a new—and full-time—coach.
“I haven’t really had an official trainer,” Eubank Jr. confessed in regretting past decisions that have left him in must-win territory. “Ronnie Davies has always been with me, but was never my full time trainer, he was more of an overseer. I was basically training myself.
“This fight will be different. I’m training with a man named Nate Vasquez, who has been living with me full-time. He had to fly home for Christmas but is now back with me. It’s great to have a guy working with me full time, fixing the things I need to work on rather than someone just going through the motions. It’s going to take me to the next level.”
It will have to, as Eubank Jr. has yet to land the type of breakout victory that has advanced his career from potential to confirmed greatness. He was aggressively moved early in his career, perhaps not quite ready for “the next level” in dropping a dull 12-round decision to then-rising contender Billy Joe Saunders, who would go on to win a middleweight title.
The path was similar to that of DeGale, who was paired early in his career with Groves when both were unbeaten prospects. Groves won a tightly contested decision, but it was DeGale who would be the first to win a major title in outpointing Dirrell on U.S. soil.
Three successful title defenses followed, including a 12-round draw with Badou Jack in their Jan. ’17 war. DeGale—who turns 33 in February—remained with a belt around his waist, but the majority draw coupled with the upset loss to Truax that following December left the Brit without a win since barely getting past Rogelio Medina in April ’16.
He now enters this grudge match with two straight victories. The former two-time titlist is also equipped with the more proven track record in big fights and—he believes—has far more left to offer the sport, which he doesn’t believe to be the case for his future opponent.
“After he’s lost to me, I’m not too sure where he’s going to go,” DeGale wondered aloud. “Fortunately, we only have seven more weeks to wait. I’m ready to go.”
Chris Algieri To Return To The Ring On November 30th
By: Sean Crose
“The prodigal son will return home for the first time in over 4 years as former World Champion Chris Algieri returns to The Paramount on November 30th, making his long-awaited comeback at the venue where it all started.” With those words, Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing announced the return of Chris Algieri, who once held the WBO junior welterweight title before moving on to fight such top names as Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, and Errol Spence. New York’s Algieri lost those major fights (which all occurred after he rose up to welterweight), then stayed out of the ring for two and a half years.
Now, with long time issues with DeGuardia and company settled, the Long Islander is set to return to The Paramount, the place where he first earned his reputation as a fighter to watch. “I can’t express how happy I am to be back,” Algieri is quoted as saying. “It has been a long time coming and it is the perfect time to step back into the sport. I am looking forward to returning to the junior welterweight division and win another world title. There are a lot of good fights for me down the line and I can’t wait to be back in the mix on the world stage.”
“I look forward to Chris’ return,” said DeGuardia, “especially in the junior welterweight division, where he has never lost a fight. I am confident we will get him another world title fight very soon”. Algieri surprised many people when he got off the mat and went on to win a decision against the feared Ruslan Provodnikov back in 2014. This led to a major payday with Pacquiao, who thoroughly bested Algieri when they met in Macao later that same year. Algieri went on to battle Khan gamely before being wiped out by Spence in 2016.
Since that time, Algieri has gone on to earn a reputation as a nutritionist who works with other fighters, particularly middleweight heavy hitter Daniel Jacobs. “Algieri decided a couple of months ago that he was ready to make a comeback,” Star Boxing announced, “and re-signed a promotional agreement with his long-time promoter Joe DeGuardia and Star Boxing. The two agreed it was time to return to the roots of Algieri’s career and give back to the loyal Long Island fans.” Algieri has made it clear he’s particularly happy to return to the Paramount in Huntington, New York, where he has won at least eight of his professional bouts.
“I am thrilled to return to the Paramount where my last successful title run began,” he said. “The growth of my fanbase has always been an organically grown, grass roots approach; so it feels only right to give back to my hometown fans in this way”.
Time for Chris Eubank Jr. to Face Reality
by B.A. Cass
There is a disparity in how Chris Eubank Jr. comports himself outside the ring and how he fights once he is in the ring. In a prefight interview, a cool and collected Eubank Jr. told one interviewer that Groves was “ready to be taken out, man. He doesn’t want to be here. I just sense weakness in him. . . . I was telling him you’re not ready. You’re in serious danger here.” However, on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena, Eubank Jr. proved that he was the one who is not ready. Swinging wildly and often missing, he looked worse than amateur. At least a good amateur has his fundamentals intact.
After listening to Eubank Jr.’s trash talking, it was embarrassing to watch him try to box. There were times when he wound up so hard with his left hook that when he missed Groves, his momentum spun him nearly 180 degrees. He left himself open and vulnerable on many occasions, and he seemed to have absolutely no strategy.
What is truly sad, though, is that Eubank Jr. refuses to see reality. Apparently, he trained himself for the Groves fight, which was the biggest fight of his career. The fact that he does not believe he needs to have a trainer should tell us all we need to know about Eubank Jr. He may have determination and guts, but he doesn’t take boxing seriously. He takes himself seriously—that much is clear—which is exactly why he’s such a joke. Aside from Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Eubank Jr. is boxing’s best-known daddy’s boy. As the son of the great former boxer, Eubank Jr. thinks that just being who he is enough to make him great. It doesn’t.
In his post-fight analysis, Prince Naseem Hamed said, “[Eubank Jr.] is not at this level and he is not such a good fighter that he is making himself out to be. He ain’t going to win unbelievable things. Let’s just talk reality, let’s bring it down to where it really is. Let’s talk the truth right now. Is this guy a world beater? No, he’s not. In three years or four years, he still won’t be.”
Achieving excellence in any sport requires not only discipline and skill but the ability to assess and compensate for deficiencies. Eubank Jr. has potential. Presently, however, he is unwilling to look at his flaws or to surround himself with people who will challenge him to improve. Unless Junior makes some drastic changes, Hamed’s assessment will certainly prove prophetic.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
WBSS Preview: George Groves vs. Chris Eubank Jr.
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night in Manchester, an all-British world title fight takes place when WBA super middleweight champion, George Groves 27-3 (20KOs), steps into the ring with IBO belt holder, Chris Eubank Jr 26-1 (20KOs) in the much-anticipated World Boxing Super Series semi-finals.
Both boxers made easy work of their quarterfinal opponents back in October.
At Wembley Arena, ‘Saint’ George Groves knocked out fellow Brit, Jamie Cox in the 4th round with a clinical body shot that kept Cox down for the count and served as Groves’ first defence of his WBA belt, which he won back in April after stopping Fedor Chudinov.
In the pre-fight documentary, still available on the WBSS YouTube channel, Groves said…
‘I don’t like to waste shots so anything I do throw, believe me you’re gonna get hit with it… There’s absolutely nothing there for me to worry about because there’s gaping, gaping holes in that style, in that approach.
He’s a blown-up middleweight who’s come into this tournament to try and build his profile… If he managed to beat me he’ll be the next coming but if he fails he’s gonna have the biggest fall from grace that we’ve had in this country for a long time.’
Away from home and in the heated atmosphere of Stuttgart, Eubank knocked out, walking punchbag Avni Yildrim in the 3rd round of his quarterfinal bout, with a devastating right hook that finished the Turk off, after already forcing his opponent into briefly taking a knee in the first round following an uppercut.
Speaking on his own and his opponent’s capabilities, Chris was in confident mood…
‘It’s more than possible to push through that pain barrier and get up, and I’m sure that he’ll try and use that against me and I’m sure I’ll be prepared for it… It won’t go the 12 rounds, somebody’s getting knocked out. This chin doesn’t have an off button, his does.
I don’t have any hate for the guy, he’s just a guy with a belt that I need to get passed to win the tournament. I keep my emotions out of boxing. It’s nothing personal, it’s just punishment.’
It’s a difficult fight to conclusively call. It could come down to how well Groves weathers the storm in the early rounds and whether his chin holds up as well as it did against Chudinov. Along with being able to slip and counter off the ropes, if Groves is able to fire off the selection of shots we’ve seen in his 6-fight win streak since losing to Badou Jack back in 2015, Eubank will need to do more to protect himself when those huge swinging hooks go amiss.
Eubank may not be pillow-fisted, but he’s lacking that one-punch KO power. Even in his previous bout, the IBO champion constantly landed cleanly throughout the 3 rounds. It’s difficult to envisage a scenario where a seasoned pro like George Groves, gives his semi-final foe so many opportunities to take him out.
The second semi-final takes place next week in Nuremberg as super middle & light heavyweight veteran, Jurgen Braehmer, 49-3 (35KOs) goes up against 23-0 (17KOs) Callum ‘Mundo’ Smith. The winners will progress to a final that’s expected to take place in early June at London’s O2 arena.
On the undercard, and as long as there’s no late injury to either of the main event fighters, WBSS super middleweight injury reserve, Zach Parker, 14-0 (10KOs) will take on 16-6-2 (10KOs), Adasat Rodriguez.
Two British title fights will also be on the undercard as Ryan Walsh takes on unbeaten, Isaac Lowe; and Tommy Langford is up against Jack Arnfield for the middleweight belt.
Both Walsh and Lowe have a mutual opponent on their records in Denis Ceylan who Lowe fought to a disputed draw, in March 2017; Walsh was beaten on a split decision to Ceylan five months earlier.
It’ll be the first time Tommy Langford, 19-1 (6KOs) defends his British title since 2016, after a 1-1 record in 2017. He was comprehensively knocked out by Avtandil Khurtsidze back in April and ended the year with a routine comeback points victory over 11-36-1 Miguel Aguilar. Jack Arnfield is currently on a six-fight win streak including wins over John Ryder, and former junior middleweight world title challenger, Brian Rose.