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'Whoever loses will have to knock it on the head': DeGale and Eubank confirm grudge match

The clash will be broadcast live on ITV Box Office.

James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr will square off on 23 February.
James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr will square off on 23 February.
Image: Stefan Rousseau

IN WHAT WAS perhaps the worst secret in boxing, former IBF World super-middleweight champion James DeGale [25-2-1, 15KOs] and British rival Chris Eubank Jr [27-2, 21KOs] have had their long-discussed fight confirmed for London next month.

Hometown fighter ‘Chunky’, 32, and Brighton native ‘Junior’, 29, will square off at the 4,000-10,000-capacity Olympia on 23 February in a crossroads clash which will be shown live on ITV Box Office.

The prestigious venue, built in 1887, has previously played host to separate world title fights involving Prince Naseem Hamed and Eubank’s father, Chris Eubank Sr.

James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr Press Conference - Hotel Cafe Royal James DeGale ad Chris Eubank faced off at today's press conference in London. Source: Stefan Rousseau

There will be no title on the line on this occasion, but while the winner can be expected to challenge for world honours later in the year, the loser will find himself relegated to fringe contention at best. Indeed, DeGale believes the fighter who comes out on the wrong side of next month’s battle might as well hang up the gloves.

“Call this the retirement fight, rudeboy,” he told Eubank at today’s press conference. “Because whoever loses has to knock it on the head.”

Eubank disagreed, calmly telling his opponent to speak for himself, but DeGale remained vocal in his belief that he’ll have too much in his repertoire for the cruder son-of-a-legend next month.

“Really excited and looking forward to being back home to a fight of this magnitude,” said the former two-time IBF champ at 168 pounds.

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“I believe Eubank doesn’t have the pedigree, the size and skill to beat me.

Eubank is a decent fighter but every time he has stepped up he has been found out. He has called my name for a long time so now I’ve finally got my chance to zip his lips.

“He’s deluded, but I get the chance to deal with him good and proper. I’ll finish him because after I beat him I’m not sure where he goes.”

James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr Press Conference - Hotel Cafe Royal DeGale takes a selfie at today's presser. Source: Stefan Rousseau

Eubank, who has recruited the Floyd Mayweather-affiliated trainer Nate Vasquez for the clash, responded simply:

It’s going to be a painful lesson for him. DeGale is going to get the schooling of his career — a good old-fashioned hiding.

DeGale regained his world title in a rematch with Caleb Truax last April but has since relinquished the belt of his own accord. Eubank is still awaiting a first world-title victory.

Both have losses to George Groves on their record; Degale was edged out by his arch nemeses in 2011, while Eubank also dropped a decision to Groves in last year’s World Boxing Super Series semi-final.

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