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James DeGale first burst into the consciousness of the wider sporting public when he winning gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After rather quietly working his way up the professional ranks DeGale became big news again for his feud with George Groves which came to a head during their Commonwealth super-middleweight title fight in 2011.
After DeGale lost that fight on a mixed decision, the careers of the two rivals went in different directions but many boxing fans and even DeGale himself were hopeful they would meet again. Those hopes have been dashed due to Groves’ retirement from the sport.
With DeGale running out of options there is every chance that his fight against Chris Eubank Jr on Saturday night will be the last of the 33-year-old’s career. DeGale has said as much himself but also suggested that Eubank Jr would have to consider his own future if he were to lose at the O2.
There’s an element of DeGale trying to ramp up the pressure on his long time rival but after his own loss to Groves, Eubank Jr is certainly at something of a crossroads in his career. The 29-year-old did bounce back to beat JJ McDonagh and is the clear favourite with the bookies but can he overcome DeGale’s experience to justify his support in the betting?
Chris Eubank Jr 4/5 (Paddy Power)
James DeGale 13/10 (Sportingbet)
Draw 18/1 (Unibet)
(Please note that odds are correct at time of article publishing)
Chris Eubank Jr is the odds on favourite across the board with the 4/5 that Paddy Power are quoting the best price you’ll find. With DeGale available at 13/10 with Sportingbet the bookies clearly believe that this is shaping to be a fairly close contest.
If Eubank Jr is to win he’ll have to make the most of his prodigious speed. The Brighton based fighter has beaten several competitors having unleashed a flurry of punches up close and it was noticeable that both George Groves and Billy Joe Saunders specifically tried to keep him back by smart use of their jab.
James DeGale and his team will doubtless try to do something similar to stop Jr getting close enough to utilise his key strength. The problem for DeGale is that he lacks the sort of power that Groves displayed against Eubank Jr. He’ll need to work out a way to make the most of his size advantage to keep Eubank Jr back and build a platform to showcase his boxing ability.
It’s going to take a considerable improvement from Eubank Jr if he is to fulfill the potential that many believe he possesses. So far, he’s been unable to make his skills count against his toughest opponents and it may be that DeGale proves to be a step too far once again.
Close it may well be but that suggests that those searching for value should be siding with DeGale.
Eubank Jr by KO, TKO or Disqualification 2/1 (Coral)
DeGale by Decision or Technical Decision 15/8 (Ladbrokes)
Eubank Jr by Decision or Technical Decision 13/5 (888Sport)
DeGale by KO, TKO or Disqualification 8/1 (bet365)
Draw or Technical Draw 18/1 (Unibet)
The odds suggest that if DeGale is going to win the fight he’ll have to rely on the judges. Despite coming into the fight on the back of a knockout win over Fidel Muñoz in California which renewed his hunger, DeGale has struggled to make his punches count in these sort of big tests.
In his quest to win on points, DeGale will feel confident about getting off to a strong start. Eubank Jr was too slow out of the blocks against Saunders and Groves and could not do enough to make up the difference despite finishing well in both fights.
There is every chance that the same thing will happen on Saturday night. Eubank Jr will know that he’s the favourite and, as the odds suggest, he has a genuine chance of winning via knockout. The problem with that position is that it throws open the risk of complacency in the first half of the fight. DeGale is far too experienced and savvy to throw away the chance to get ahead on the judges’ scorecards so should be backed to win via a decision at 15/8 with Ladbrokes.
DeGale on Points @ 15/8 (Ladbrokes)
Eubank Jr on Points @ 13/5 (888Sport)
Eubank Jr Round 9 @ 20/1 (Paddy Power)
Eubank Jr Round 8 @ 20/1 (Betfred)
Eubank Jr Round 11 @ 25/1 (William Hill)
Eubank Jr Round 10 @ 25/1 (William Hill)
Punters looking for a bigger odds play for their boxing betting will often turn to the round betting market. With regards to this fight it offers the potential for some sort of insurance should Eubank Jr land a big punch and score a knockout victory.
That’s most likely to come when he finishes strongly and DeGale tires so consider a small odds bet on Eubank to win in round 11 at 25/1 with William Hill.
James DeGale to win at 13/10 with Sportingbet
James DeGale to win by decision or technical decision at 15/8 with Ladbrokes