The last weekend of the month of February features an interesting matchup on paper between James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr. The PBC on FS1 returns to the Minneapolis Armory in a show headlined by Anthony Dirrell and Jamal James. The undercard bouts on both events should give fans something to sink their teeth in. We boxing degenerates have been somewhat surprised on how several of these mediocre matchups on paper paid off in the ring so far in 2019.
I will start with the FS1 card which matches Anthony Dirrell against Avni Yildirim in the main event and hometown fighter Jamal James takes on 1-loss Janer Gonzalez. The most evenly matched televised bout on the main portion card is the opener Marcos Hernandez versus Jeison Rosario in a rematch from a split-draw just over a year ago.
Marcos Hernandez comes into this rematch with some momentum having won back-to-back bouts in The Contender series reboot last year. His opponent Jeison Rosario upset Justin DeLoach on ShoBox, as well as defeating Jomantay Clark last August at this very same venue. Something has got to give in this 10-rounder as both men do battle to hold their grip on the ladder at the junior middleweight division.
Jamal James vs. Janer Gonzalez will surely get the crowd’s attention as they cheer on the Minneapolis native. James last two outings have been at The Armory ranging from crowds of 3,100 to 3,700. Snow is expected in the forecast but that won’t stop the Minneapolis faithful from coming out to support their hometown guy. James is on a 4-fight winning streak since dropping a 10-round decision loss to Yordenis Ugas. The same Ugas that worked his way up to earn a mandatory shot at Shawn Porter’s WBC 147-strap March, 9th on Fox.
Janer Gonzalez is a game fighter but activity has been the main issue of late. His only defeat in 2017 came against Radzhab Butaev, an unbeaten prospect with plenty of amateur pedigree. James has a long jab to go along with his lanky frame but sometimes Jamal prefers to ignore his advantages, which is obviously one of the reasons why the Minnesota fans come out to see him. James loves to engage in a tear-up but he’d be smart to mix in some movement and defense to go along with a high-work rate. Jamal is the more battle-tested of the two tilting an entertaining scrap his way.
At the top of the bill for the PBC on FS1, Anthony Dirrell faces Avni Yildirim for David Benavidez’s vacant WBC belt. Dirrell should be able to take care of business fairly quick based off his aggressive nature in the ring. Plus, the last time Yildirim stepped up to the plate against Chris Eubank Jr. he crumbled. Since losing to two-weight division titlist Badou Jack, Dirrell’s collected five victories coming against a vary of competition. This hack-of-a-scribe believes it will be fun to watch while it lasts.
The rest of the undercard features prospects Efe Apochi (6-0), (13-0) Donavan Estrella, and Money Powell (8-0) in separate bouts along with Bryant Perrella vs. Breidis Prescott.
On to the biggest fight of the weekend pairing U.K. foes James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr., Eubank joined forces with Premier Boxing Champions creator Al Haymon and looks for bigger and brighter opportunities on the horizon. Only problem is another Haymon client, James DeGale stands in his way as the old guard at the super middleweight division.
Clearly DeGale is the more talented of the two as many favor James to win going away. What is also clear, DeGale is definitely past his peak of a reasonably solid career. What kind of ticker does DeGale have is not up for debate, James has a huge heart and is willing to show grit if need be. The more telling question is how much is left in the tank for the whole 12-rounds. As long as DeGale is fit enough to be able to move smoothly on the outside, James should walk away the victor. Eubank Jr. generally follows opponents instead of cutting-off the ring which doesn’t bode well facing a crafty cutie like DeGale. The fight itself will take a few rounds to heat up but once the water boils it should be a pretty good scrap.
Side Note: It may be worth a peek at Brandon Rios vs. Humberto Soto main event this Saturday on DAZN. Also, on Showtime/ITV Joy Joyce hopefully gets a test versus Bermane Stiverne depending upon what Bermane shows up. Lee Selby vs. Omar Douglas might be the most competitive bout on that U.K. card.