The ring in James DeGale’s gym is a constant reminder to him of a victory over Chris Eubank Jr. in an infamous sparring session that sparked the bitter feud that has led to their British blockbuster showdown on Saturday 23rd February at The O2.
DeGale and Eubank clash in the most eagerly awaited domestic tear-up in recent years and headlines a packed show, promoted by Poxon Sports and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), supported with the Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion Joe Joyce defending his title against the Former World Champion Bermane Stiverne, plus the return of Former IBF World Featherweight Champion Lee Selby, exclusively LIVE on ITV Box Office.
The notorious sparring session between DeGale and Eubank Jr. happened in 2011 at his then gym in Debden, Essex, when DeGale was preparing to challenge for the European Super-Middleweight title and young prospect Eubank had only had a handful of fights.
It was agreed between both camps that they would spar eight rounds, but after six rounds in which DeGale said he had got the better of, Eubank Jr. left the ring for no particular reason with two rounds remaining. When DeGale and his trainer Jim McDonnell then started a pad session, Eubank Jr. did his trademark rope-vault back into the ring and started shadow boxing in between them which infuriated DeGale and he threw the brash Brighton visitor out of the gym for being disrespectful.
The Harlesden man was later enraged when Eubank Jr. and his father broke the unwritten boxing rule of sparring by ‘keeping it in the gym’ when he came out the next day on social media stating that he had ‘schooled’ DeGale.
That was the starting point of their bad blood and the pair have clashed over the years as the animosity and rivalry has built up to boiling point and now they will finally settle it once and for all in one of the most highly anticipated fights in recent years.
DeGale personally owns the boxing ring that the spar took place in and had it installed at the famous Stonebridge gym where he trained for many years before the gym recently moved to a new location in Wembley and the ring came back into focus last week when ITV cameras filmed with DeGale.
DeGale stormed, “I’m a proud man and to hear Eubank Jr. spout off at the time and at every opportunity he’s had since to tell to people that he ‘schooled me’ after that sparring session has stuck with me. It may have been eight years ago now, but I knew there would come a time when I would make him eat his words and I can’t wait to finally make him pay for it on February 23 at The O2,”
“He used that sparring session to come down and make a name for himself and say that he beat me, people who weren’t there and all his followers on social media who don’t know what happened, of course, are going to believe what he said, but the whole nation will now get to see for real what I will do to him and it won’t be behind closed door and from gossip,”
“I know what happened in that ring and training in the same ring every day reminds that I made him quit and I can make him do it again. I’m already one up against him, but sparring with a headguard and big gloves is completely different to doing it in the ring for real. I just can’t wait to be wearing the little 8oz gloves and doing it for real.”
DeGale’s trainer Jim McDonnell, Former European Featherweight Champion, who was in his corner for the sparring session, did not hold back and was more vocal about the incident. He said, “I think it was a get up from the start and there was a hidden agenda for a publicity stunt. Eubank didn’t want to do the last two rounds with James. He just got out of the ring. I compare it to a fighter stopping after ten rounds of a 12 twelve round fight and pulling out and then doing shadow boxing for the last two rounds,”
“I don’t know if Eubank Jr. thought that the last two rounds of shadow boxing made up the eight rounds? Do you really believe a fighter who had not won any amateur titles and only had a few fights took James, who won everything as an amateur culminating in the Olympic Gold, the British title and was challenging for the European title, to school? Please!”
“To be honest, I had forgotten about it because we had gone on to fight and win the European title and then on to World honours, but James has never forgotten about it. I can see now for Eubank Jr. it was a major coup to spar with James and he milked it for everything he could. It got his name in the papers and he did a great job of it,”
“He’s talked himself into the fight and got what he wanted and I’ve got to give Eubank Jr. credit for stepping up and taking the fight, whatever you say about him, he’s a tough man. I look at Eubank Jr’s record, though, and I see it ending up a very one sided fight for James. Who has he beaten as an amateur or pro? The only two times he stepped up against Billy Joe Saunders and George Groves he’s got beat.”
Tickets available from www.AXS.com and Inner Ringside/VIP Hospitality from www.sportandmusic.co.uk
This fight will be shown exclusively on ITV Box Office. For further information and updates, please go to www.itvboxoffice.com