CHRIS EUBANK Jnr has dismissed suggestions James DeGale is a fighter in decline, believing that will be demonstrated when they finally fight next week.

Their long-term rivalry is to be settled on February 23 at London’s 02 Arena, in what appears increasingly likely to be DeGale’s last bout.

George Groves’ retirement ended DeGale’s hopes of a rematch and left him with few lucrative options to pursue regardless of whether he secures victory. Equally significant is that he has recently struggled to impress.

In three fights, including a defeat, since a dramatic draw against Badou Jack in January 2017, the Olympic gold medallist has shown signs of a punishing career.

Eubank Jnr, though, is convinced the best of DeGale will again be on show as motivation within the 33-year-old will have returned to prove himself against an opponent four years his junior.

“He’s the type of fighter who rises to the occasion,” Eubank Jnr, 29, told Press Association Sport.

“If he’s got someone he doesn’t respect or fear, then that shows in his performance. He respects me and knows what’s coming, so he’s going to be on form.

“He’s had some hard fights, that’s for sure. It’s one of those things — a fight like this especially against me — could be career ending.

“I’m relentless, I don’t stop. Volume, speed, power, it’s all a dangerous combination, and he knows that.

“But the fact he knows that is why we’re going to see the best James DeGale we’ve seen for a long time.

“He knows I’m a livewire and that I’m dangerous; he knows being ill-prepared is dangerous for his health. I don’t think he’s going to put himself in that position.”

Chris Eubank Jr

DeGale has said the loser of next week’s fight will have no choice but to retire.

Eubank Jnr, a year on from being convincingly beaten on points by Groves in the only other fight of his career that has been similarly high-profile, insists he will fight on for years regardless.

“I’m not thinking about retiring, about losing,” he said. “If he wants to use it as a slogan for a fight, ‘The retirement fight’, that’s up to him. I’m 29, and I’ll be fighting until I’m 35, minimum, because I live the life.

“My career can be long; I don’t really get hit, I don’t take a lot of punishment. He can talk all he wants about retirement, I’ve just got to go in there and do what I’ve been working on with Nate (Vasquez, my new trainer) for the last three, four, five months.”