Fightful Boxing Newsletter (2/21): Tyson Fury To ESPN, Billy Joe Saunders Goes To 168, Joshua vs. Miller

James DeGale vs. Chris Eubank Jr. Preview:

The first Premier Boxing Champions card taking place in the United Kingdom is taking place on February 23 from the O2 Arena in London with a main event of James DeGale vs. Chris Eubank Jr. for the vacant IBO super middleweight title.

The card came together as part of a multi-year deal between PBC and British broadcaster ITV, which meant the company held the rights to broadcast PBC cards across its multiple channels. Its most notable card prior to this Saturday was the Manny Pacquiao vs. Adrien Broner fight, which was shown for free in the UK, but on pay-per-view in the United States.

The deal also calls for special PBC events to take place in the United Kingdom, making way for matchups such as these. While this isn’t exactly a superfight to in British boxing, it certainly does pit two stars who are at a crossroads in their respective careers.

DeGale, the two-time world champion, is at the end of his career and looking for the biggest fights possible to end on a high note. Although DeGale’s career is certainly impressive, the former IBF super middleweight titleholder returns to the United Kingdom for only the second time since 2015. Having not won a fight in the UK since 2014, DeGale knows that a fight against Eubank is not just one that will show the boxing world that he can still be an elite boxer, but one that can potentially win another title before hanging up his gloves.

Meanwhile, Eubank Jr., the son of British great Chris Eubank Sr., has been on the hunt to get that one signature victory that will put him among the British elite today. Unfortunately for Eubank Jr., his two biggest fights, against Billy Joe Saunders and George Groves, ended in defeat and has many calling his ability to get to the next level in question.

There’s no doubt that Eubank Jr. has the physical tools to be a champion. In fact, he pretty much has every possible physical attribute needed to be called an elite boxer. But it’s his boxing fundamentals that has been plagued his career. Having not gotten truly elite training throughout his career and getting mostly by with just his physical gifts alone (27 wins in 29 pro bouts), Eubank Jr. has yet to acquire the necessary boxing skills needed to win a world title. There’s also the lack of any big names on his resume with Arthur Abraham and Avni Yildirim being his biggest wins. While those are solid names, they’re not exactly ones that people would call career-defining. A win over DeGale would change the opinions of many.

On the undercard, British heavyweight prospect and rising star Joe Joyce will fight former world champion Bermane Stiverne in a matchup that could serve as Joyce’s first true test in his pro career. A win over Stiverne could be the catalyst of a run to a world title opportunity within the next 12 months as the fight is rumored to be for the WBA Gold title with the winner getting an eventual shot at the WBA “Regular” title being held by Manuel Charr.

While Stiverne has the right to say he was once a world champion, the last couple of years revealed that Stiverne today is a shell of his former self. Stiverne has not fought since being knocked out in the first round of his rematch against Deontay Wilder back in November 2017. Having fought just three times since the start of 2015, it’s hard to say whether or not Stiverne can even be called a good heavyweight nowadays. A win over Joyce would immediately bring Stiverne back to glory and on the verge of a potential title shot. But the clock is ticking on the 40-year-old’s career and so, a loss could very well mean the end of his career for good.

Also on the card is the return of former featherweight world champion Lee Selby, making his lightweight debut against Omar Douglas. The fight carries some intrigue as it’s not only been nine months since Selby was in a fight but also the fact that Selby is jumping up two weight classes could spell the birth of a new contender at 135 pounds. Douglas is a decent first test for Selby and unless we see an incredible performance from Selby, it’s tough to say whether or not he can be a world champion once again.

For those in the United States, Showtime will televise the card live from the O2 Arena, but unfortunately, only the main event and Joyce vs. Stiverne are going to be the fights shown stateside.

Tale of the Tape:

James DeGale:

Record: 25-2-1 (15 KO)

Age: 33

Height: 6’0”

Reach: 74”

Notable Fights: Badou Jack, Caleb Truax, Lucian Bute, Andre Dirrell, George Groves

Titles Won: IBF Super Middleweight Title

Chris Eubank Jr.:

Record: 27-2 (21 KO)

Age: 29

Height: 5’11”

Reach: 72.5”

Notable Fights: George Groves, Avni Yildirim, Arthur Abraham, Billy Joe Saunders

Titles Won: IBO Super Middleweight Title

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