Spectre of retirement will drive James DeGale to overcome Chris Eubank Jr

first_imgHistory is crowding in on James DeGale, whose long boxing career has been garlanded with titles and cursed by ill-health, and he will be driven by the spectre of retirement to overcome Chris Eubank Jr at the O2 Arena in south-east London on Saturday night. Chris Eubank ‘petrified’ son will lose must-win fight against James DeGale Reuse this content Theirs was a clash of personality: the analytical and detached approach of Groves rubbing up against the more emotional psyche of DeGale.DeGale was in similarly edgy mood at the final press conference this week, probing for weak points in Eubank’s makeup, with his adversary giving as good as he got. As should be the case in the fight, there was nothing in it. All three thrive on the psychology of boxing. It’s done for Groves now, but there is life left in the business for the winner on Saturday night, including a world title to parlay into more money, but the assertion by both of them that defeat will lead to the exit door is less nailed on.If DeGale loses, certainly he will wonder, at 33, if he can ever get back to the level that delivered him an Olympic gold medal in Beijing and two world titles. Indeed, his co-opted assistant, Paulie Malignaggi, was honest enough to admit this. And McDonnell, himself a former European champion, was adamant he would advise him to retire if he lost. Then again, if the fight is a thrilling affair with the result disputed, the temptation to have a rematch will be considerable. Anthony Joshua brushes off Jarrell Miller testosterone claims before fight Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. Read more … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. As Groves told Boxing News: “Eubank had really built up this thing that had gone on [in sparring] but he must have had a lot of arguments when I wasn’t there, when I’d left the gym. He never spoke once when we used to spar. We’d have sparring sessions and he’d be good work but he was a paid sparring partner.“If I didn’t show up, he’d swarm me and I’d have a bad spar. Then the next week I’d have breakfast on time, get to the gym on time and switch on and he wouldn’t lay a glove on me and I’d punch him from pillar to post. That happened a few times. He was riding a wave of his own hype.”As for DeGale, there is no chance of Groves coming out of retirement for a rematch with the fighter he beat in 2011. “He has taken the Eubank fight thinking he can fight me next, and he can’t; that ship has sailed. That fight was never going to happen because he was such a nightmare to deal with. The goalposts were always moving. I’m happy to miss out on the payday – as long as he loses it as well.”There’s always a pay-off punch in this business; the hostility between them never properly waned. DeGale lands a right on Caleb Truax during his win over the American last year. Photograph: Sam Wasson/Getty Images Facebook Share via Email Pinterest Since you’re here… Read more Share on LinkedIn Boxing Share on Facebook Topics Defeat for Eubank, who is four years younger, would be a setback but not, as he is selling it, the time to walk away. He is young in terms of energy expended and punishment taken, and there are places for him to go. It is, after all, his job. If he looks at the alternatives, he might easily be persuaded to change his mind. Share on Pinterest features Twitter James DeGale Share on Messenger Share on Twitter Share on WhatsApp The most obvious prize is the IBO’s vacant super-middleweight belt, a minor trinket, but the bigger achievement for both fighters is to remain employed in the industry when the lights are lowered. It is a classic contest between the gnarled veteran and the hustling younger man – although only by four years and, quirkily, Eubank has squeezed in one more bout in eight years as a pro – 29 – than DeGale’s 28 over nine years.DeGale’s long-time friend and trainer, Jim McDonnell, conceded that “down the line” his fighter might be vulnerable against a quality opponent but added: “Right now James DeGale is at a different level to Chris Eubank Jr. Boxing is a skill, and James has got it. Chris has got all the willpower, but he hasn’t got the skill James DeGale has got.” That is a fair call.They share a common conqueror, George Groves, who retired after Callum Smith stopped him in seven rounds last September, and who is uniquely placed to judge their strengths and weaknesses. He was intrigued, for instance, to hear Eubank say he got the better of DeGale in training when they sparred several years ago.DeGale, who weighed in at 166lbs, one below his opponent, naturally denies Eubank’s claims that he “schooled him”, and Groves would seem to take the side of a fighter from whom he never had much affection, even when sharing facilities at the Dale Youth boxing club as teenage amateurs. He remembers Eubank from other sparring sessions. Support The Guardianlast_img read more

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