James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr: Who will win? Experts give talkSPORT their predictions ahead of O2 bout

It’s a fight that has the boxing community scratching its collective heads – James DeGale or Chris Eubank Jr? Who wins and why? The younger, hungrier and aggressive man or the Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion?

George Groves proved a step too far for Eubank Jr in his last significant fight, while DeGale lost and then laboured in two fights with the unheralded Caleb Truax.

So, what do the experts think? talkSPORT finds out…

James DeGale fights Chris Eubank Jr live on talkSPORT on Saturday night
James DeGale fights Chris Eubank Jr live on talkSPORT on Saturday night

JOE GALLAGHER – trainer of champions including no.1 super-middleweight Callum Smith

“It’s a really hard fight to pick a winner. With DeGale, in the Truax fight he was sitting on the ropes and getting caught. He can’t do that with young Eubank, he’ll bring pressure and punches in bunches. But James DeGale does have the better boxing IQ and ring intelligence.

“I don’t think [Eubank trainer] Nate Vasquez would come over here to waste his time and I don’t think he’d stand for a training camp where he’s saying things and Eubank isn’t taking heed in terms of sparring and trying things. He’d pack his bags and go if he wasn’t listening so I think it could be good for him and he may have learned things.

Joe Gallagher believes DeGale, above right, will win if he is injury free, though it is also dependent on the ring size
Joe Gallagher believes DeGale, above right, will win if he is injury free, though it is also dependent on the ring size

“James DeGale on the other hand, has a settled camp and settled trainer but obviously they’ve had their ups and downs.

“One of the key things in this fight is the size of the ring – if it’s a massive ring then I think DeGale has got the space and the movement to keep Eubank off because I don’t Eubank’s got the best feet. If it’s a small ring, then sooner or later Eubank will get to DeGale and he’ll try and drag him into a dogfight.

“Is it a case of father time catching up with DeGale and youth overcoming him? We’ll have to wait and see, but they’ve both got a point to prove. If DeGale, who says he has no injuries, is fit and it’s a big ring then I can see him winning by decision. Small ring and I think I’ll go Eubank. That’s how tight a fight it is.”

DAVE COLDWELL – former fighter, manager and trainer of champions

“It’s an intriguing one. I think James DeGale’s skillset and boxing ability is all wrong for Eubank from what we’ve seen so far. Eubank’s got terrible feet and he’s quite crude. The problem for James is that Eubank is very strong and very fit and James, in his last few fights has looked like he’s faded down the stretch, having wars instead of using his boxing skills.

“I don’t think James hits hard enough and I don’t think his punch power will command the same respect that George Groves did.  I do think if he can stick to a plan he can win on points, but it’s not a confident pick. If DeGale’s got anything left at all, he wins the fight.

Eubank Jr’s strength and athletic ability is likely to prove problematic for DeGale, Dave Coldwell told talkSPORT
Eubank Jr’s strength and athletic ability is likely to prove problematic for DeGale, Dave Coldwell told talkSPORT

“He looks in fantastic shape so If he can stay disciplined, he can do it. The problem in the past is that he’s switched off. He’s got to be patient and box and box and box. It’s all he can afford to do in this fight.  If he looks at the Billy Joe Saunders fight – Billy’s a southpaw as well as James – he just has to look at that fight and box. There’s a blueprint there how to beat him.

“If James was to lose, I think that would be the end. He’s used to big fights and I can’t see him wanting to rebuild. With Eubank – he’s been beaten in his two step ups, so to be beat again a third time by someone who’s definitely not at his peak, I wouldn’t say there’d be nowhere to go, but it’d be a long time before he’s taken seriously again. He’s got all the bravery, all the heart and he’s a tough, tough kid and he lives the life.

“I still think though, when push comes to shove, if there’s anything left in the tank, then I’m going to go with DeGale to pull off one last big performance.”

LIVE ON TALKSPORT

James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr is live on talkSPORT on Saturday 23 February from 7pm

PAUL SMITH JR – former DeGale opponent and Eubank sparring partner

“It should be a routine win for DeGale, but I’m not sure what he’s got left. I’m not sure what his dedication has been like outside of the ring. He’s had a lot of downtime and he likes going out. I wouldn’t want that to be a factor in this fight.

“Eubank’s relentless but he doesn’t have much power. James didn’t have much power when I fought him, but his power has improved over the years. If it goes according to plan then DeGale wins on points, but if it doesn’t go to plan then Eubank will outwork him and get his head on his chest and make it very difficult. It’s a very intriguing fight.

“James has the proven pedigree, two-time world champion – more his to lose than Eubank’s to win.


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“As people, I think DeGale is misunderstood. He’s mistaken for being brash, flash and arrogant but when you’re on your own with him, he’s not a bad lad at all. With Eubank, I don’t think I’ve spoken five words with him and yet I’ve sparred about 40 rounds with him so that says it all really. He’s not one to engage. I think he looks down his nose and thinks he’s better than people and that’s certainly not my cup of tea. For me, James is the better person but obviously it’s all going to come down to boxing ability.

“I believe DeGale is the better fighter, but he has to get it right on the night and he has to have put the work in. To use an old Dean Powell line, you can’t do in 12 weeks what you need to do in 12 months. I hope for James’s sake he hasn’t just done 12 weeks but put a solid 12 months of work in.”

Paul Smith Jr believes DeGale is the better fighter and will beat Eubank Jr on points if everything goes to plan
Paul Smith Jr believes DeGale is the better fighter and will beat Eubank Jr on points if everything goes to plan

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