By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 24/02/19 2:09am
Chris Eubank Jr claimed a points victory over James DeGale after twice flooring his British super-middleweight rival at The O2.
Eubank Jr forced DeGale onto the back foot with his early aggression on Saturday night, knocking him down twice on the way to a unanimous decision win with scores of 114-112, 115-112 and 117-109.
There had been talk of retirement from DeGale before the fight and the 33-year-old former world champion hinted afterwards that he could leave the sport after the third defeat of his career.
Eubank Jr fought like a man who knew he could not suffer another setback following high-profile losses to Billy Joe Saunders and George Groves, and the 29-year-old aimed spiteful hooks at DeGale from the first bell.
He landed one of those looping punches in the second round, sending DeGale wobbling backwards, and his follow-up assault left his shaken foe sagging on the ropes, prompting the referee to administer a count.
DeGale was in danger of being stopped, withstanding more clubbing punches in the third, although he did give glimpses of his class with crisp counters in the fourth.
The bullish strength of Eubank Jr was on show in the fifth as he lifted DeGale off his feet, but there was also more refined work from the Brighton man, who had finally hired a trainer in Nate Vasquez, and his jab was on show in the sixth.
DeGale tried to utilise his skills in the seventh, spinning away after delivering a cluster of punches, only to be forced repeatedly to the ropes by the relentless Eubank Jr in the next few rounds.
Both men were bleeding from cuts around their eyes, but Eubank Jr was relishing this close-quarters battle in the 10th, threatening to overwhelm DeGale, who wilted to the canvas after a big left hook.
Even a point deduction did not dissuade Eubank Jr, who was punished for hurling DeGale to the canvas.
Only pride and grit was keeping DeGale on his feet as Eubank Jr pumped out punches until the bell chimed on his career-best victory.
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