12-Round Super Middleweight Bout
James DeGale – 166 Pounds
Chris Eubank Jr – 167 Pounds
Referee: Howard Foster; Judges: Michael Alexander (U.K), Phil Edwards (U.K.), Terry O’Connor (U.K.).
12-Round Heavyweight Bout
Joe Joyce – 265 Pounds
Bermane Stiverne – 273 Pounds
Referee: Michael Alexander; Judges: Howard Foster (U.K), Jerome Lades (France), Olena Pobyvailo (Belgium)
Note: Former featherweight world champion Lee Selby and Omar Douglas will fight in a 12-round lightweight swing bout. Selby measured 134 ½ pounds for his lightweight debut while Douglas weighed-in at 132 pounds.
Former two-time world champion James DeGale and former world title challenger Chris Eubank Jr. both weighed-in within the 168-pound limit for their 12-round super middleweight clash that headlines a SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader tomorrow/Saturday live on SHOWTIME (3:45 p.m. ET/12:45 p.m. PT) from The O2 in London.
DeGale (25-2-1, 15 KOs) measured 166 pounds while his fierce rival tipped the scales at 167 pounds for their all-British grudge match. At stake for both men in the long-awaited showdown are British bragging rights, but more importantly a chance for another world title shot in the deep super middleweight division.
“I’m in the best shape I’ve been for a long, long time,” said DeGale, who reigned as champion for more than two years. “When I feel like I feel no one can beat me.”
Eubank Jr., the son of British legend and former two-division champion Chris Eubank Sr., has faced champions George Groves and Arthur Abraham and is now seeking a signature win against DeGale, the first British boxer to win an Olympic gold medal and a world championship.
“I know this is the defining fight of my career,” Eubank Jr. said. “Beating James DeGale sets me up for a world title, which is the whole reason I started in this game.”
Undefeated heavyweight Joe Joyce has knocked out all seven of his professional opponents but will face the toughest test of his professional career in Bermane Stiverne, a former WBC Heavyweight World Champion and the first fighter to push reigning champion Deontay Wilder the distance. The 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist Joyce (7-0, 7 KOs) measured 265 pounds while Stiverne tipped the scales at a career-high 273 pounds for their 12-round bout for the British Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship.
“Each fight is getting me closer and closer to a world title shot,” said Joyce, who is hoping to join Lennox Lewis, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua as recent winners of the British Commonwealth Heavyweight Title. “This is quite a step up for me but I’m confident that towards the end of the year my name will be amongst the top five heavyweights in the world.”
Stiverne (25-3-1, 21 KOs) is looking to bounce back from a one-sided defeat to Wilder in a 2017 rematch and prove that he’s still a threat in the deep and vibrant heavyweight division.
“That’s why I’m hungry,” Stiverne said on Friday. “I feel I have more to offer in this division.”
Veteran broadcaster Brian Custer will host the doubleheader from London with versatile combat sportscaster Mauro Ranallo calling the action ringside alongside Hall of Fame analyst Al Bernstein. Three Hall of Famers will round out the telecast team – Emmy® award winning reporter Jim Gray, boxing historian Steve Farhood as unofficial ringside scorer, and world-renowned ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr.
James DeGale MBE and Chris Eubank Jr. squared off face-to-face today ahead of their highly-anticipated fight this Saturday night (23rd February) at The O2, promoted by Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) and Poxon Sports, exclusively live in the U.K on ITV Box Office in the U.S on Showtime.
There is no love lost between the two fierce rivals who are raring to settle their long running feud and put everything on the line in their potential Super-Middleweight classic.
With fans now counting down the hours to fight night in anticipation, DeGale and Eubank Jr. engaged in a fierce war of words in front of the media and camera flashes today as each fighter sought to gain the crucial mental edge before stepping between the ropes for their big fight Saturday.
Two-Time IBF World Champion DeGale has branded the clash a ‘retirement’ fight and he didn’t mince his words when he looked Eubank Jr. in the eye to warn, “I vacated my title for fights like this. Chris Eubank Jr. has been calling my name for a long time and finally I get a chance to punch him in the face. I have no respect for him. None. This guy is a deluded idiot. And on Saturday night I can’t wait to deal with him. I’m going to come and give it to him properly. He can’t box. We’ve all heard this before. His retirement fight is here. It’s his last fight, I promise you that!”
DeGale emphasised why he sees himself as a class above his foe. He said, “Eubank Jr. is a tough fighter, he’s strong. He has a lot of good attributes, but I’m too good for him. To mix it up and go to the very top you need more than strength and toughness. Every time he’s stepped up, he’s lost. I’m in the best shape I’ve been for a long, long time, physically and mentally. When I feel like I feel, no one can beat me!”
Eubank Jr. however, seemed unphased, responding with barbed words of his own, he said, “This guy is a bum. He talks a good game. He’s going to have a good go, but at the end of the day I’m going to be too much for him. There’s nothing he can do in that ring that I can’t handle. I’m going to box his head off. What matters is that James’ career is over in a few days. I sent him a message after he lost to [George] Groves saying he needs to keep up because we are going to fight one day. And now that we’re finally here I look into his eyes and I don’t see a confident guy.”
For this fight, and for the first time in his career, Eubank Jr. has employed a full-time trainer, Nate Vasquez from the Mayweather Boxing Club, to prepare himself for battle. He confidently proclaimed that the decision will give him the edge he needs on Saturday night. He said, “I’ve got a full-time trainer now. For the first time in my career, I have a trainer day in and day out focusing on strategy to prepare me for what James is – a slick southpaw. That’s why I’m so confident. If he wants to run, we have the gameplan. If he wants to stand and swing, we have the gameplan. We have a plan for everything.”
Eubank Jr. added, “This is my biggest fight. I have to win. If I win, I’m back on the world stage. Beating James DeGale sets me up for a world title which is the whole reason I started in this game.”
In retort, DeGale snapped, “I’m in the best shape I’ve been for a long, long time, physically and mentally. When I feel like I feel no one can beat me. I’m proven. I’ve been there, done that. I’ve won everything. He’s done nothing and I’m going to retire him.”
Chris Eubank Sr. sat by his son’s side and was both honest and philosophical when asked to predict the outcome of the fight. He said, “You never underestimate your opponent based on past performances. Anyone who thinks this guy is on a slide because of past performances is making a mistake. From a physical aspect, my son Junior has the upper hand. From a spiritual aspect and pedigree aspect, James has the upper hand, and that’s why this is a 50/50 fight. I do know Chris has learned and let’s see what is produced. It can be a brilliant fight.”
Jim McDonnell, DeGale’s Trainer, appeared more confident when evaluating his fighter’s chances of success on Saturday. He said, “There are levels to boxing. Chris was a good prospect coming through but he’s not on the same level as James. He’ll find out what it takes to be a World Champion. James DeGale is levels above Chris Jr. I know James is not losing. James DeGale is probably the best British fighter I’ve seen in my country.”
Team DeGale member Paulie Malignaggi, the former WBA and IBF World Welterweight Champion, added, “I like our chances. I know the guy that I have been in camp with. The things I’ve seen, I like. You can’t underestimate a guy like Eubank. He always comes to win. But regardless of the gameplan, there is a certain mentality and my guy has it. He’s a Gold Medalist and he knows what to bring mentally on Saturday.”
Promoter Richard Poxon of Poxon Sports for Premier Boxing Champions concluded, “I am thrilled and very proud to be a part of this event. It’s going to be a great fight at a great venue. It’s a fight everyone wants to see, a massive domestic match-up supported by a superb undercard. The fans can’t wait and it’s a sell-out. It’s tremendous to be working in partnership with ITV Box Office to air this fight in the U.K, and I can only advise people to book early to watch the fight live on TV as it’s going to be extremely busy. It is so exciting to welcome Showtime to the U.K as our U.S broadcast partner. Showtime has an incredible history and reputation in Championship Boxing and by their coming here it shows the allure surrounding this all British clash between James Degale and Eubank Jr.”
A Storm Is Coming is headlined by the long awaited domestic blockbuster showdown between James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr for the Vacant IBO World Super-Middleweight Championship; Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion Joe Joyce defends his title against Challenger and Former WBC World Champion Bermane Stiverne; Former IBF World Featherweight Champion Lee Selby returns to action and takes on Omar Douglas; The British Heavyweight Title Eliminator between Andre Sterling and Ricky Summers. Plus an action packed undercard featuring super-featherweight Anthony Cacacae; welterweight Chris Kongo; light-heavyweight Seb Eubank and the pro-debut of cruiserweight Chez Nihell.