by Cliff Rold
Pick It: TBRB #5 Chris Eubank Jr. vs. #10 James DeGale (Saturday, Showtime, 3:45 PM EST)
Going back to the early 1990s, some of the best of the super middleweight tradition has come from clashes held in the United Kingdom. Matches featuring Chris Eubank Sr., Michael Watson, Nigel Benn, and Steve Collins drew huge crowds, made memorable scraps, and helped legitimize a weight class initially seen as unnecessary.
When those matches featured all-UK pairings, the crowds were often extra molten and the action met their expectations. That has remained true in recent vintage with clashes like Carl Froch-George Groves and last year’s WBSS final between Groves and Callum Smith. Showtime made a wise pick-up this weekend in this genuine crossroads clash.
The 33-year old DeGale (25-2-1, 15 KO) gave up the IBF title he regained last year to free himself from mandatory obligations and pursue the best paying fights. The 29-year old Eubank (27-2, 21 KO), at a surely packed O2 Arena, will mean a real challenge and healthy check. Eubank enters once removed from a loss to Groves in the WBSS semi-finals. Both men need a win badly and local bragging rights are always worthy an extra bit of leather. Throw in Lee Selby and heavyweight Joe Joyce on the undercard and this appears an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Additional Shows to Watch For
Friday – Telemundo (11:35 PM PM EST): Alamo vs. Mendez
It’s a night of interesting prospects with welterweights to lead the show. 23-year old Puerto Rican Yomar Alamo (15-0, 12 KO) makes his first start since July against 28-year old Manuel Mendez (16-4-3, 11 KO). Also on the card, 24-year old middleweight Carlos Monroe (11-0, 8 KO) continues his early rise against 34-year old Jonathan Tavira (17-6, 13 KO).
Saturday – FS1 (10 PM EST): #3 Dirrell vs. Yildirim
When they turned professional, the Olympic medalist Andre was the one of the Dirrell brothers many expected to have a better career. Yet it is the 34-year old Anthony (32-1-1, 24 KO) who went on to win a (full) title and has a chance now to become a two-time titlist at super middleweight. The 27-year old Avni Yildirim (21-1, 12 KO) is beatable but he might make it easy. Since being stopped in three by Eubank in the WBSS quarterfinals in 2017, he’s 5-0 while Dirrell has gone to scratch only once in the same time span. Will activity and youth be critical components in this one? FS2 will have the undercard beginning at 8 PM EST.
Saturday – TYC (10 PM EST): Vittori vs. Castillo
For the fight fan who can never get enough, there is this clash of Argentine welterweights. 29-year old Gustavo Vittori (21-4-1, 12 KO) enters off a win after consecutive knockout losses. 25-year old Walter Castillo (13-3, 3 KO) was stopped in the first round of his last fight. This will be…on TV.
Saturday - DAZN (8PM EST): Rios vs. Soto
In a battle of former world champions who have seen better days, Brandon Rios and Humberto Soto collide at the Auditorio Municipal Fausto Gutierrez in Tijuana, Mexico. The undercard is led by the rematch between Jose ‘Gallito’ Quiniro (20-2-3 9KOs) and Joel Cordoba (7-4-2 1KO). The Mexicans shared a draw in a Christmas cracker in December.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]