LONDON – Chris Eubank Jr. earned a career-defining victory with a hard-fought unanimous decision over British rival and former two-time world champion James DeGale in a super middleweight grudge match Saturday on SHOWTIME from The O2 in London.
Eubank, the son of British boxing legend and former two-division world champion Chris Eubank Sr., floored DeGale twice en route to the clear decision, which was scored 114-112, 115-112, 117-109.
Working in his first bout with a full-time trainer, Eubank fought a controlled fight. The former world title challenger floored DeGale in a rough moment in the second, stunning his rival with a big left hook against the ropes and flooring him moments later with a strong right cross that sent DeGale to the canvas for just the second fight of his career.
DeGale, who established his championship career as a slick southpaw, was unable to jab at range and couldn’t handle the constant pressure from Eubank. The former Olympic Gold Medalist resorted to lunging from the outside and was largely ineffective on the inside, often clinching while in close quarters.
“I knew he was going to come at me like that,” Eubank said. “He’s a slick southpaw, but my game plan worked. Smart pressure and not getting too ahead of myself. He’s a hell of a fighter, hell of a competitor but at the end of the day my head and my heart won this fight.”
“There was a lot of animosity leading to this fight. I told him, ‘This is my time,’ and it was. He’s a veteran of the game, he throws big shots and he manages to stay up. To get up after those knockdowns is a statement about his tenacity and the type of fighter he is.”
The second knockdown came in the 10th as Eubank landed a powerful left hook that buckled DeGale with just 30 seconds left in the round. Once again, DeGale tried to clinch to avoid the knockdown, but his hand touched the canvas and was ruled just the third knockdown of his career.
After the fight, DeGale, who was the first British fighter to earn an Olympic Gold Medal and a world championship, appeared to be leaning toward retirement.
“I definitely I didn’t do enough,” DeGale said. “He was on it and I didn’t do enough. You have to do more than enough to counter someone that came forward like Chris.
“I’m going to go back and talk to my team, my family, and decide. I left my mark in boxing. I won an Olympic Medal, two world titles and it may be the time to hang it up.”
While DeGale contemplates retirement, Eubank has his sights set on another shot at a world title.
“This was the most important fight of my career, and I made a statement. I’m back where I’m supposed to be, at the top of the food chain. I’m coming for all the belts in the middleweight and super middleweight division. I’m fighting everyone they put in front of me.
“I’m glad to make my American debut here on SHOWTIME. I’m glad to be introduced to the American public this way – making a statement.”