The British super middleweight rivalry ends with Eubank Jr. dropping DeGale twice to win a unanimous decision in the first PBC on ITV event in the UK.
Chris Eubank Jr. couldn't have chosen a better moment. Headlining the inaugural UK PBC on ITV event, Eubank Jr. (28-2, 21 KOs) stepped out of his father’s shadow with a career, best, 12-round unanimous decision win over former two-time super middleweight world champion James DeGale (25-3-1, 15 KOs).
The crowd at O2 Arena in London, England, were primarily DeGale fans going in. By night’s end, Eubank Jr. had earned their applause.
It’s been a long time coming for the son of Chris Eubank Sr., himself a two-time world champion and British boxing legend. DeGale, 33, declared that the loser of this bout should hang up the gloves for good. But this fight wasn’t about retirement, it was about redemption. Eubank, 29, showed renewed focus and refined skill in outboxing and out-brawling DeGale.
Southpaw DeGale was busier in the first. A clash of heads midway through the stanza opened a cut on his left eye. It flowed occasionally, but it didn’t hamper his vision.
Eubank went to work in the second, pumping the jab. A right hand-left hook combination drove DeGale to a corner. Another right snapped his head back, causing him to sink to the mat as he held the ropes. Referee Michael Alexander immediately jumped in and administered an eight-count.
DeGale regained his senses and wisely held on each time Eubank closed in. The latter emerged from one clinch with a cut over his right eye. But it didn’t stop his charge. Round after round, Eubank pressed the attack showing a poise—and punch placement—he hadn’t in previous bouts.
DeGale used every ounce of veteran guile to keep his younger opponent off him and remain standing. Sensing the fight slipping away, he let his hands go in the seventh. A straight followed by a left hook from the orthodox stance got Eubank’s attention. But Eubank wouldn’t be denied on this night. He rallied over the last 30 seconds, punishing DeGale as the crowd leaped out of their seats.
Sensing the fight slipping away, DeGale stood and traded with Eubank in the tenth. Both uncorked big left hooks in the center of the ring. Eubank’s landed first, sending a wobbly DeGale backward. A series of combinations caused DeGale’s glove to touch the canvas for the fight’s second knockdown. He was saved by a bell that rang mid-count.
The onslaught continued in the eleventh. A winding uppercut buzzed DeGale, who looked to clinch. Eubank threw him to the canvas, earning a point deduction. It made the cards closer but didn’t change outcome. Scores read 114-112, 115-112 and 117-109.
A disappointed DeGale congratulated the winner afterward, showing sportsmanship following a contentious build-up and hard-fought fight.
“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.”
“There was a lot of animosity leading to this fight,” Eubank noted. “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.”
So, what does the future hold for the rejuvenated Eubank?
“This was the most important fight of my career, and I made a statement,” said Eubank. “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.”
Joyce batters Stiverne in one-sided affair
Undefeated heavyweight Joe “The Juggernaut” Joyce (8-0, 8 KOs) has graduated from prospect to contender. Joyce dominated former heavyweight world champion Bermane Stiverne, inducing the stoppage at 2:20 of the sixth round.
Stiverne (25-4-1, 21 KOs) didn’t go out without a fight, despite many dismissing his chances at Friday’s weigh-in. The 6-foot-2 former champion tipped the scales at 273-pounds, eight pounds heavier than Joyce and nearly 20-pounds more than when he last fought, a first-round KO defeat against world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in November 2017.
Nevertheless, he came out in the first throwing—and landing—bombs. Two rights caught Joyce’s attention. The undefeated Brit responded by putting his hands down, sneering at the Haitian and continuing to come forward.
Joyce seized control in the second, staggering Stiverne with a right. Stiverne covered up as he lay on the ropes, occasionally countering with single hard shots.
But he took too many in return.
Another right in the third nearly drove Stiverne through the ropes and out of the ring. The former WBC titlist showed grit in surviving the knockdown and follow-up onslaught.
Joyce dominated the ensuing stanzas as Stiverne ran out of steam. He emptied the fusillade in the sixth, pounding a weary Stiverne and causing referee Howard John Foster to mercifully halt the action.
“Big things are coming,” Joyce said. “My next one will be for the WBA regular (title) and I’ll be back in the gym soon. I need to have a couple more fights like this and then I’ll be ready for the big champions.”
Selby decisions Douglas in gutsy performance
“Lightning” Lee Selby (27-2, 9 KOs) didn’t want a soft touch for his first bout at lightweight, although he was moving up two divisions. The former IBF featherweight world champion got what he asked for—and more. Selby overcame two bad cuts and a stern challenge from a determined Omar Douglas (19-3, 13 KOs) to win a twelve-round unanimous decision. Final cards read 116-112, 116-112 and 115-114.
For a complete recap of DeGale vs Eubank, check out our fight night page.