Hotly-anticipated grudge match kicks off the new partnership between PBC and UK network giant ITV.
One of British boxing’s best matchups—and one of its worst kept secrets—was finally announced today.
On Saturday, February 23, James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr. will finally throw down at the O2 Arena in London, England. The event, the first in the U.K. by America’s Premier Boxing Champions, marks a return to the sport for ITV. The network will air the card on their box office platform.
The brash pair didn’t hold back during the verbal back-and-forth at today’s press conference at Hotel Café Royal in London. DeGale, a former two-time world champion, has a lengthy history with the Eubank family dating back to his Olympic days in 2008. This bout was prophesied even back then and, based on his commentary while addressing the media today, “Chunky” has spent the subsequent years dreaming about the opportunity to shut the mouths of Eubank Jr and his father, British legend Chris Eubank Sr.
“This fight has been a long time coming,” DeGale said. “When he first turned professional, he was calling me out. This guy is deluded. On the 23rd February, I get a big chance to deal with this guy good and proper and finish him because after me I don’t know where he has to go.
“Thankfully there’s only seven weeks to wait and I hope he’s ready so tune in because this isn’t going to be a great night of boxing. This is a retirement fight for him. Call this the retirement fight. He’ll be so far behind after six rounds and then he’ll have to chase the fight.”
When asked where Eubank ranks on his ledger of star opponents, DeGale delivered some brutal honesty.
“He’s way down there,” declared the Olympic gold medalist, placing his hand below the table. “I’ve been to Canada for Lucien Bute, I’ve been to New York for Badou Jack. Chris is a hungry fighter with big balls, but he ain’t nowhere near to the guys that I’ve been in with before. He’s going back to school.”
The ultra-athletic Eubank Jr. has competed at the highest level, fighting valiantly in losing efforts to Billy Joe Saunders at 160-pounds and George Groves up at super-middleweight. He exuded a quiet confidence as DeGale attempted to goad him with trash talk. Although he’s fought primarily at middleweight, he has always maintained that a showdown versus his British rival would materialize one day.
“This fight has been five years in the making and it’s finally here,” he declared. “I’ve been training for this one fight for a number of years and you’ll see that. I know everything about James. I know how he fights, I know all his weaknesses, and this is going to be fun. I’m hoping he brings the best James DeGale on the night and that he’s fit and that we can give fans an explosive night.”
Eubank added, “This fight is very much as big as the George Groves fight and there’s no doubt that James is a world level fighter. There’s been changes to the team, big changes that will take me to the next level. I’ve had Ronnie Davies with me since day one, but he’s been overseeing things rather than training me because I’ve tried to listen to myself and do it all on my own. I’ve spent time in Las Vegas and the improvements will be there for all to see on February 23rd.”
“ Thankfully there’s only seven weeks to wait and I hope he’s ready so tune in because this isn’t going to be a great night of boxing. This is a retirement fight for him. ” Former Super Middleweight Champion James DeGale
Full details of the undercard and how to access this ITV Box Office PPV event across all platforms will be announced and made available in due course. For updated and further information, please go to www.itvboxoffice.com.
Tickets for the fight go on sale on Friday 4 January at midday to O2 members and to the wider public at midday on Monday 7 January. Tickets available from www.AXS.com and Inner Ringside/VIP Hospitality from www.sportandmusic.co.uk.
News of the DeGale v Eubank Jr. showdown follows the announcement at the end of December of two major world title fights to be shown free to air on ITV4 as part of the broad scope of the ITV and PBC deal. On Sunday, January 13, Jose Uzcategui defends his IBF Super Middleweight World Championship against unbeaten top challenger Caleb Plant. Coverage will come live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
The following weekend, on 19 January, ITV4's coverage will come live from Las Vegas where Manny Pacquiao will defend his WBA world welterweight title against Adrien Broner. The exclusive ITV4 coverage will also include the much-anticipated showdown between Badou Jack and Marcus Browne for the WBA Interim Light Heavyweight title.
Late last year, ITV announced a ground-breaking new deal with Haymon Sports and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) to bring exclusive coverage of exciting PBC world-class boxing events to ITV viewers and fight fans in the UK.
The unique collaboration is the first time that Haymon Sports and PBC has partnered with a UK broadcaster to stage boxing events regularly in the UK. The exclusive three-year deal will guarantee a minimum of 15 televised events each year, drawing from PBC's unrivalled group of over 160 of the best boxers in the world, which includes more than 60 current and former world champions in matches staged both in the UK and the US. PBC, the sports' pre-eminent boxing brand, is broadcast over cable and network television in the United States.
The world-class action from events for the next three years will include free-to-air broadcasts on ITV's channels, including ITV main channel and ITV4 and ITV Hub, and will also include pay per views on ITV's PPV channel, ITV Box Office.
This new deal for boxing adds to ITV Sport's portfolio of first class events, which includes exclusive free to air coverage of the England football team's qualifiers for both the European Championship and World Cup, the 6 Nations and exclusive coverage of the Rugby World Cup, UK horse racing, the Tour de France and the French Open.
For a closer look at DeGale vs Eubank, check out our fight page.