Chris Eubank Jr featuring younger and many more dangerous opponents in her sights
The time will really come when Chris Eubank Jr can shed the appellation to determine her own identity within the higher amounts of boxing, without any his father’s sometimes cloying influence, and just then will we assess if they’re the champion fighter he states to be.
Nearly several years after avoiding the proprietor boxer Gennady Golovkin at middleweight – for the advice of his father – “Junior”, as “Senior” still calls him, finds himself a new champion of sorts one division above at 12 stones for that IBO after shredding the remnants of James DeGale’s once-excellent skills at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday.
Chris Eubank Jr beats James DeGale to transmit Londoner towards retirement
He knocked the two-times world champion down twice but was fighting a pale imitation in the boxer who had won Olympic gold and lost to the very best in a very professional career stretched over nine years. Eubank, operating faithfully for the instructions of his new American trainer, Nate Vasquez, could have done a bit more, whilst it was an unpleasant spectacle.
DeGale, whose quirky, disjointed style has frustrated a great number of opponents, was vulnerable for worryingly very long periods, unsteady on wobbling legs, with the exceptional only achievement was to finish upright within a final onslaught during the closing round, surely his last by the end of a tricky, garlanded career.
He cannot renege on his pre-fight pledge simply to walk away if he lost “to someone like Eubank”. He wouldn’t just lose: he was schooled – as Eubank had claimed of their sparring next year.
DeGale will find hard to quit the game that was his life, as he revealed within his reluctance while in the immediate aftermath to realize it’s all around. Even so it is folly to carry on, for his pride with his fantastic well-being.
As for Eubank, he’s in the mix now to contemplate bigger challenges against younger, more dangerous opponents. A logical test would be contrary to the unbeaten Liverpudlian Callum Smith, who props up more respected WBA form of the super-middleweight title and sent George Groves into retirement.
As ever, boxing politics will hinder those negotiations; if Eubank’s father could somehow make a mouthwatering challenge against Golovkin impossible in 2019, prospects to get a domestic showdown with Smith are usually not very much better.
Groves, who was ringside on Saturday, had picked Eubank to defeat DeGale (as he had done himself in 2012, and even having the better of Eubank in 2009), and said of his own decision to retire after losing to Smith: “You just know if it is a chance to go.”
It echoed the words long ago of the universe featherweight champion Barry McGuigan: “A fighter is invariably the first ones to know ought to quit, plus the last to admit it.”
Eubank’s only current dilemma is how to work his way over the thick jungle of his sport’s labyrinthian complications. If the Smith fight isn’t immediately a possibility, he could chase around the 34-year-old American Anthony Dirrell, who won the vacant WBC belt by beating Avni Yildirim in Minneapolis on Saturday night in controversial circumstances, awarded the decision on a technicality when leading through 10 rounds after being accidentally cut in an accident while using tough Turk, who lost to Eubank in three rounds eighteen months ago.
Dirrell’s younger, fresher compatriot Caleb Plant, the IBF champion, is another who might estimate discussions. For the moment, Eubank can be well satisfied with quite possibly the most convincing performance of his career. As Vasquez says, she has work still to perform, but his strength, speed and hitting have elevated him to a level where he could prosper. It is actually nearly him, though, not his father – and they both be aware that.