Chris Eubank Jr produced a stirring display to defeat James DeGale via unanimous decision and claim the vacant IBO super-middleweight title at the O2 Arena on Saturday.
There was little love lost between the British pair, who shared a frosty embrace after Eubank’s hand had been raised by referee Michael Alexander in London.
The three judges scored the fight 114-112, 115-112, 117-109 in Eubank’s favour and it was hard to argue with that assessment at the end of a contest in which former Olympic middleweight gold medallist DeGale failed to leave his stamp.
At the final bell, DeGale raised his arm more in hope than expectation and the 33-year-old, whose record falls to 25-3-1, must know he is nearing the end of a career that twice saw him crowned IBF super-middleweight king.
“I’m going to go back, talk to my team and talk to my family,” DeGale told ITV Box Office afterwards.
“I’ve been to the heights of boxing, I’ve won an Olympic gold medal, won the world title twice, made history and I’ve boxed the best around the world, I’ve left my mark in boxing.”
With victory, Eubank moves to 28-2 and it was he who set the tone for the fight as early as round two, wobbling DeGale with a left hook that forced a mandatory eight-count.
Following a few scrappy rounds, Eubank remained in the ascendancy and floored his opponent again in the 10th, courtesy of another devastating left.
Eubank was docked a point for a body slam in the penultimate round but DeGale was in desperate need of a knockout by that stage and was in no state to provide one, leaving Eubank – and his father and former world champion Chris Sr – smiling widely at the end.
“I’m back where I need to be – at the top of the food chain and now I’m coming for all the other belts in the super-middleweight division,” Eubank Jr said. “I knew he [DeGale] would come in here and run.
“I dominated pretty much every round. He is a hell of a skilled fighter but my heart and tenacity got me there. A lot of people said I was going to get my head jabbed off and not stand with a proven boxer. It was the most important fight of my career and I’ve made the statement. It is belt season, it is collection season.”
On the undercard, former IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby prevailed via a unanimous points decision over Omar Douglas.
Selby, who lost his world belt to Josh Warrington in May, emerged victorious despite suffering deep cuts over both eyes that left his white shorts, Douglas’ hair wrap and the referee’s shirt heavily stained with blood.