Fallen Rising Star Chris Eubank Jr finds himself in a handbag slanging match against former champ, James DeGale this Saturday, February 23rd@O2 Arena, Greenwich “mean” time, the standard reference point by “wich” the 24 global time zones use to set their own 24 hour day.
The southpaw DeGale, who turned pro as a lauded Olympian gold medalist, won and then defended a vacated IBF title a few times before losing, but then winning it back before vacating. Stylistically he was a lackluster snoozer in his boxing performances and may be a bit jaded by now, perhaps only motivated by the barbarous slings and arrows hurled his way by Junior.
As to Junior, he seems to have the requisite summation of fine physical attributes and conditioning to be a well regarded champ, yet also has under performed, seemingly never having learned how to fully box and utilize sound ring strategy, nor being a “natural born” fighter to pull him out of the abyss, an attribute that most of the greats had. Blame is generally offloaded onto Chris Eubank Sr, a brilliant and stylistically and intellectually bizarre boxer of British legend who stands accused of stealing all the limelight in Junior’s fight corner by his incessant ring posing and posturing in his role as manager and trainer.
Not all has been woe and gloom and doom for Junior, after all he did win an IBO supermiddleweight bauble with a somewhat credible performance over the ancient German great, Arthur Abraham before defending and then losing his title much like DeGale lost his. It is this “lost” IBO title that will be fought for.
The undercard features latest of the supersized British heavyweight prospects when Olympic silver medalist Joe Joyce aims to step sprightly down the well trod path of the grizzled 40 year old former WBC champ circling the drain these past few years, Bermane Stiverne. “B’Ware” seems to have lost most of his few skills and punch resistance, yet remains hungry for another dance on the championship stage that he held for a nanosecond. The boxing aphorism here is that power is the last thing to leave a fighter, so the thought is Stiverne may have a slight punching chance, but that’s pretty much it for him barring that miracle.
Junior in his last week before the fight announced he’d signed a 3 fight deal with mogul puppetmaster Al Haymon, so perhaps now has more financial motivation than ever on paper, but if DeGale upsets him, DeGale could cash in on his next fight if he chooses. That’s the way boxing works, so here the fighters only need to step to the scratch line for a mighty fine opportunity.