A bit of needle is good for a fight, and James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr have got their full sewing kits out.
The British super-middleweight rivals aren’t battling over a title in London this weekend, but bragging rights alone are enough to ensure this one will be a humdinger.
Adding heavyweight clout to the card is 2016 Olympic medallist Joe Joyce’s showcase against former world titlist Bermane Stiverne, and rounding off the bill is Lee Selby’s comeback contest with Omar Douglas.
DeGale v Eubank Jr – Bet Now
Both DeGale and Eubank talk like they are the second coming of Muhammad Ali – they aren’t. So, let’s cut through the hype and pick out the best bets on this potential twelve round barnburner.
The reality is that DeGale is at the end of his career. The 2008 Olympic gold medallist has been in plenty of tough 12 round knocks and he’s suffered several serious injuries. ‘JD’ lost to mediocre American Caleb Truax last April and he only just managed to reverse the decision in the rematch.
Eubank’s recent form isn’t much better – he got battered by George Groves in February 2018 and all he’s done since then is pick-off an area-level fighter. ‘Simply the Best’s’ son hasn’t beaten a world class opponent yet, so this time, for the first time, he’s employed a trainer – but a few months with a new coach won’t bridge the skill gap to two-time world champion DeGale.
The Londoner looks to be in great shape for this bout and he’s always been a fast starter. I don’t think DeGale can get a stoppage at any point, but Eubank could leave himself open early doors. 20/1 for Junior to be knocked down in rounds 1-3 is an absolute blinder from #WhatOddsPaddy.
The issue for ‘Chunky’ is that he doesn’t have a great engine and he not so good when he’s forced backwards – which is basically Eubank’s game. It’s no secret that ‘Next Gen’ has incredible conditioning and he’s a handful for anyone down the stretch.
The mental warfare began about seven long years ago after Eubank tweeted about how he schooled DeGale in sparring, and it peaked with a spiky face-to-face last week. ‘JD’ – bless him – can’t help but take the bait: 1-0 to Eubank.
With Billy Joe Saunders fancied to win a super middleweight title in April, there’s a huge chance the winner gets another mega domestic payday and a shot at a belt in the summer.
This fight will have its fireworks, but it will ultimately go the distance – Eubank is a small super middle and he’s been unable to bang out his better opponents. But, Junior is better than Truax and this one will be as close as two coats of paint on the judges’ cards.
Bet of the bout: Draw at 16/1.
Joyce v Stiverne – Bet Now
Another man talking a great game is Stiverne. The American former heavyweight champ is claiming he’s back to his best and he’ll annihilate a novice like Joyce, but the fact is that the 40-year-old has competed just once in the last three years and on that occasion, he was marmelised in the first round by Deontay Wilder.
Joyce may have only featured in seven paid bouts, but the 33-year-old has a wealth of amateur experience and a solid, if short, pro CV. As for hype, Big Joe lets his fists do the talking.
Money is the first thing Stiverne would have questioned when this scrap was put to him, and now the fight is here he’s getting paid whether it goes one round or 12.
The best version of Stiverne would only stand a puncher’s chance against ‘Juggernaut’, but how long he lasts depends on his conditioning.
Bet of the bout if Stiverne weighs in UNDER 250lbs: Joyce to win in rounds 7-12 at 7/2.
Bet of the bout if Stiverne weighs in OVER 250lbs: Joyce to win in round 1-2 at 6/4.
Selby v Douglas – Bet Now
The loss to Josh Warrington last year doesn’t look too bad for Selby after Warrington’s subsequent form, and coming back at a higher weight is move long overdue for the Welshman. In the opposite corner this Saturday is American Douglas who, despite being billed as a huge underdog, is no joke.
Douglas was a decent amateur and is a seasoned pro, but his two losses suggest he’s not at Selby’s level.
The Delaware boxer will come in shape to try to pressurize ‘The Barry Boy Assassin’, but as a small lightweight, his size won’t shock Selby.
Last year’s loss seems to have spurred Selby on, but I don’t believe the additional nine pounds will give him much more pop in his punches. Douglas has never been stopped and it’s odds-on that Selby takes the victory on points – but that’s still the best bet out there.
Bet of the bout: Selby to win on points 4/11.
* All odds correct at time of posting.