James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr

James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr set for February 23

Published On Thursday, January 3, 2019By Tim Rickson

James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr clash in epic domestic fight in February

The first big fight of the year has been announced between super-middleweight rivals James De Gale (25-2-1) and Chris Eubank Jr (27-2).

'Chunky' vs 'NEXTGEN' will take place on February 23 at The O2 in London, televised live on ITV Box Office.

Londoner DeGale, who was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours, says his super-middleweight fight with Brighton and Hove's Eubank Jr is a "retirement fight" because it will be "game over" for the loser.

DeGale, 32, faces his British rival in a non-title contest at London's O2 Arena on 23 February on a Poxon Sports show.

Eubank Jr, 29, won last September after being beaten by George Groves in February, while DeGale vacated the IBF world super-middleweight title in July that year.

"After he has lost to me I am not sure where he is going to go," said DeGale. "Call this a retirement fight. Whoever loses can knock it on the head. Whoever loses, game over.

"A lot of people think I am in decline but they are in for a shock."

At a London news conference on January 3, DeGale referred to his rival as "limited" and said Eubank Jr was "well down" the list when ranking the calibre of opponents he has faced.

"James talks retirement but it has never even come into my mind," said Eubank Jr. "In February it will be a painful lesson. I have been training to fight you for years. I know everything about you."

The contest will be a pay-per-view broadcast on ITV Box Office and is the first of a new deal involving US promoters Premier Boxing Champions after the organisation struck a deal with the terrestrial broadcaster.

Olympic gold medallist DeGale lost his world title in December 2017 but regained in an April rematch with Caleb Truax to become a two-time World champion, but relinquished the red belt soon after to focus on chasing big fights as he enters the twilight years of his record-breaking career. The former Dale Youth ABC student become the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a world title in 2015 when he narrowly outpointed American boxer Andre Dirrell (24-1) in his own back yard in Boston.

He insists Eubank Jr is "too arrogant" to listen to his new coach following a 2018 in which he lost to Groves and scored a routine win over JJ McDonagh in September.

"I have a new team around me," said Eubank Jr. "I haven't really had an official trainer.

"Ronnie Davies has been by my side but hasn't trained me, he's been more overseeing things. I have trained myself.

"For this it will be different. I have been working with a guy called Nate Vasquez from Las Vegas. He has been living with me. It is good to have a solid guy there who is with me 24-7, working with me on specifics rather than me going through the motions."