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DeGale vs. Eubank Marks PBC’s Inaugural Promotion on British Soil

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  • DeGale vs. Eubank Marks PBC’s Inaugural Promotion on British Soil

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    By Arne K. Lang

    At a London news conference on Dec. 11, 2018, representatives of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) and UK broadcaster ITV announced that they had consummated a three-year deal whereby PBC would create a minimum of 15 events per year for airing on the network’s various platforms. It was speculated at that time that the first PBC event staged in England would pit James DeGale against Chris Eubank Jr, a match that had been bandied about for a long time.

    Today (Jan. 3) that rumor was confirmed. The super middleweights will meet at the O2 Arena in London on Feb. 23. Sources say that this will be a pay-per-view event, much to the obvious dissatisfaction of British boxing fans who were anticipating that it would air on free terrestrial television.

    James “Chunky” DeGale (25-2-1, 15 KOs) won the gold medal as a middleweight at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He subsequently became the first British boxer to win both an Olympic gold medal and a professional world title, a feat later matched by Billy Joe Saunders and Anthony Joshua.

    DeGale won the British super middleweight title in his ninth pro fight but lost it in his first defense, succumbing to George Groves by the narrowest of margins. In 2015 he won the vacant IBF 168-pound world title with a unanimous decision over Andre Dirrrell. In his third title defense, he retained the belt when his bout with Badou Jack in Brooklyn was scored a draw. DeGale faded late in that entertaining skirmish and many thought that Jack had pulled it out with his late surge.

    DeGale then took 11 months off to rehab a chronic shoulder injury. He returned on Dec. 9, 2017, in London for a match with Caleb Truax.

    A Minnesota man, Truax had a nice record but was thought to be little more than a journeyman. It figured to be an easy test for DeGale, but he fought as if he had grown old overnight. Truax, the aggressor throughout, wrested away DeGale’s title with a majority decision that should have been unanimous. It was a massive upset, an easy call as the TSS 2017 Upset of the Year.

    DeGale exercised the rematch clause in the contract and won the sequel, outpointing Truax in Las Vegas. However, his performance left much to be desired (albeit it isn’t easy to look good against Truax because of his awkward style).

    Three months after regaining the title, DeGale relinquished it, spurning a match with mandatory challenger Jose Uzcategui. This was seen as a savvy business move. More lucrative matches awaited him in England with fellow Brits such as Groves, Eubank, and Callum Smith. Moreover, DeGale has never been one to attach himself too strongly to one promoter. He signed with Queensberry (Frank Warren) coming out of the amateurs, later linked up with Matchroom (Eddie Hearn) and is now associated with Haymon whose role, for legal purposes, is defined as that of an advisor.

    DeGale had one more fight after the Truax rematch to close out 2018, a stay-busy affair against a hapless opponent buried on the undercard of a small show in Ontario, California. DeGale knocked out his foil in the third round with an uppercut.

    Chris Eubank Jr. (27-2, 21 KOs) is the son of a British boxing legend. The elder Eubank, a 13-year pro, won world titles in two weight classes.

    Chris Eubank Jr. won his first 18 pro fights before meeting fellow unbeaten Billy Joe Saunders in a 12-round contest with three regional title belts on the line. Eubank started slow and it cost him. He lost a split decision.

    He rebounded with six wins as a middleweight before moving up to compete at 168 and stretched that winning streak to nine before locking horns with the aforementioned Groves. Their fight in February of 2018 at Manchester, a WBSS semifinal with Groves’ WBA belt at stake, was a big event in England. It reportedly sold out in seven minutes.

    Groves was a small underdog, notwithstanding the fact that he had fought much stiffer competition and he upset the odds, winning a unanimous decision. Working the jab effectively, “Saint George” proved to have the higher ring IQ. As in the Saunders fight, Eubank had his best moments late but to no avail.

    Eubank has had one more fight since that mishap. Last September, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Eubank stopped overmatched JJ McDonagh who quit on his stool after three frames claiming a shoulder injury. McDonagh was picked to be the sacrificial lamb because he is a southpaw, as is James DeGale.

    With no title at stake (unless one is contrived), the promoters are casting this event as a grudge fight to goose the gate. This is no stretch. In the past, long before this fight was sealed, both fighters used social media to denigrate the skills of the other.

    ITV, which operates along the lines of a franchiser, is not an all-sports network like ESPN. The London-based broadcaster, the oldest commercial network in Great Britain, has diverse programming in common with America’s Big Four. But sports are a key component of their menu. They cover soccer, cricket, rugby, horseracing, and motor sports, and felt a need to catch the wave and add boxing to the mix.

    Before DeGale-Eubank is a go, ITV will pick up the feed of two PBC promotions, the Uzcategui-Plant fight (on Sunday, Jan. 13 from Los Angeles) and Pacquiao-Broner plus the attractive co-feature between Badou Jack and Marcus Browne (on Saturday, Jan. 19 from Las Vegas). Those telecasts will be free for ITV viewers.

    What we have now in boxing is a full-blown war between various broadcasting outlets. There are some serious downsides (fodder for future columns) but boxing on a global scale has never been as widely exposed and for that fight fans can be thankful.

  • #2
    DeGale looked and sounded a little chunky innit?

    Like somebody who's been getting hit too much.

    Like somebody who's going to get run over.

    I favor Eubanks in a corner stoppage.


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      Last edited by Kid Blast; 01-05-2019, 03:32 PM.

  • #3
    DeGale (like Kell Brook) wanted/wants to be an action star.

    Its effects are starting to show on his face and in his speech.