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James DeGale set for grudge match with Chris Eubank Jr.

DeGale and Eubank Jr. will square off at London’s O2 Arena next month.

Premier Boxing Champions, ITV Sport & Poxon Sports Boxing press conference Photo by James Chance/Getty Images
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

British rivals James DeGale (25-2-1, 15 KOs) and Chris Eubank Jr. (27-2, 21 KOs) have been talking about a potential fight between them for years now, but it will finally be coming to fruition on February 23, per an ESPN report.

The two super middleweights are officially set to go head-to-head at London’s O2 Arena, which should make for a pretty fun atmosphere in a good domestic clash.

DeGale, 32, is a former IBF super middleweight titleholder, but has had a rough go of it as of late. He’s been getting into more wars — and taking more damage — than we’ve been accustomed to seeing from him, and frankly he just doesn’t look like the same fighter he was just a few years ago.

Back in January 2017 DeGale fought tooth and nail against Badou Jack in a super middleweight unification bout, and while DeGale left that fight with a draw, he also left that fight missing a couple teeth.

DeGale would then return in December of 2017 against Caleb Truax, but that would turn out to be a much rougher-than-expected fight where DeGale would lose a majority decision and his IBF world title. DeGale would rebound to win his title back from Truax in April 2018, but even that was a difficult fight for what appeared to be an aging fighter on the decline.

So rather than be forced into a mandatory title defense against Jose Uzcategui — probably a god awful style match-up for DeGale at that point — he instead opted to vacate his title and took a soft touch last September, knocking out Fidel Munoz in three rounds. He now finds himself back in with a young, athletic fighter in Eubank Jr. who has said before that he wants to claim the rest of DeGale’s teeth.

“When he [Eubank Jr] first turned professional the guy was calling me out. He’s very deluded. On Feb. 23 I get the chance to finish him good and proper, because after he’s lost to me I’m not sure where he’s going to go.”

Meanwhile Eubank Jr., 29, was brought back down to earth during the World Boxing Super Series tournament last year, when he was thoroughly outboxed by George Groves in the semifinal round. Eubank Jr. would also take a tune-up bout following that loss, stopping JJ McDonagh in three rounds last September, and is now looking to step back into more meaningful fights. Speaking on his upcoming bout against DeGale in today’s press conference, Eubank Jr. said:

“At this stage in my career big fights, fan-favourite fights are the only thing I’m looking for,” Eubank Jr said. “This fight has been four, five years in the making. James says I’m deluded I guess you guys are just going to have to find out. In February it’s going to be a painful lesson for [DeGale].”

Both DeGale and Eubank Jr. are known for their brash personalities, so the build-up to this fight should be full of some fun banter and trash talk, but do you think DeGale still has has enough in him to deal with the physicality of a fighter like Eubank Jr?

Sound off in the comments below.

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