Michael ‘Venom’ Page opens up about heated sparring with James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr – and will be happy to fight the winner

THE PHRASE "sparring is sparring" is a cliche that will be used by almost every boxer at some point in their career.

But it can be a vital selling point in the narrative to a feud or fight – for example, this weekend’s domestic showdown between James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr.

 James DeGale and Chris Eubank meet at the O2 on Saturday night in a domestic grudge match

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James DeGale and Chris Eubank meet at the O2 on Saturday night in a domestic grudge match

Their feud was born through a 2012 sparring session, which Eubank would later boast on Twitter about how he “schooled European Champ James DeGale”- and now five years later and they headline a pay-per-view fight.

For MMA star Michael Venom Page, who beat bitter rival Paul Daley on Saturday, he has his own equally heated sparring stories with both DeGale and Eubank.

In 2016 Eubank invited MVP down to his Brighton gym for a spar – but after Page was told there must be 30 seconds rest, instead of one minute between rounds, the sparring was cut short.

Venom Page told SunSport he believes Eubank grew frustrated with his unorthodox style, and used the dispute as a way of ending the "embarrassing first round".

 Michael Venom Page sparred Chris Eubank Jr in Brighton in 2016

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Michael Venom Page sparred Chris Eubank Jr in Brighton in 2016
 Eubank Jr had invited MMA star Michael Venom Page into his gym to spar

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Eubank Jr had invited MMA star Michael Venom Page into his gym to spar

Page said: “I think he was frustrated with my style and he projected that through with the 30 seconds.

“In all honesty you wouldn’t react in that way based on a dispute over the 30 seconds, it just wouldn’t happen.

“Here’s where we’re different, my coach has always told me very few boxers in the world will be able to figure me out in four, five or six rounds, because the style is very difficult to figure out.

“But after that I will be in trouble, because the muscle endurance in my arms is not going to be as good as these guys, because it’s what they do every time they step in the gym.

 MVP and Eubank had a dispute over how much time should be allotted in between rounds

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MVP and Eubank had a dispute over how much time should be allotted in between rounds
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“It’s the later rounds where I’ll struggle and they’ll get me back – I’m prepared to have my a*** handed to me in training, I want to come back and figure you out.

“But a lot of these guys don’t like to be embarrassed any way shape or form. It was an embarrassing first round for (Eubank Jr).

“If anybody around the world saw it they would have seen the level looked ridiculous in that first round.

"But if he persisted with it in the later rounds he would have started to figure me out – but he let his frustrations get the better of him, I believe. And then he started having an argument with his own coach, which is ridiculous.”

Shortly after and MVP found himself sparring former IBF super-middleweight world champion DeGale.

 Soon after his spar with Eubank MVP found himself in another heated dispute with James DeGale

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Soon after his spar with Eubank MVP found himself in another heated dispute with James DeGale
 MVP claims DeGale attempted to land a hook on him before the sparring had commenced

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MVP claims DeGale attempted to land a hook on him before the sparring had commenced

But according to Page, the familiar story followed of a seasoned boxer struggling to deal with the MMA fighter's style, with the spar almost ending in a brawl.

Page said: “I ended up fighting one of DeGale’s team-mates, he was a very talented boxer, but he made a few bad decisions in his life and now he’s inside.

“I was his sparring partner for two rounds and I don’t think DeGale liked the way I was being, very stylish, winning those rounds through that style.

“So when (DeGale) came into the ring to spar, he was being very stupid from the beginning. I went to touch his gloves at the beginning and he put his hand out to touch, then jump hooked me.

“He tried to punch me before we even started – and that was the start of the round, so I knew it was going to be a bit of a headache.

 MVP claims DeGale headbutted him twice before the sparring session almost turned into an ugly brawl

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MVP claims DeGale headbutted him twice before the sparring session almost turned into an ugly brawl

“Long story short it ended up finishing with him headbutting me twice and it near enough started kicking off in the gym, it almost got very stupid.

“People struggle with the frustration, they’re such talented boxers and used to getting their own way.”

Despite having heated sparring experiences with both men, Page admitted he has respect for them as “talented boxers” ahead of the IBO title fight at the O2 on Saturday.

Page added: “I do respect both of them as talented boxers, regardless of what happened. I think DeGale has a lot more style, and more awkward.

 Eubank comes into the fight with DeGale as underdog

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Eubank comes into the fight with DeGale as underdog
 MVP believes DeGale is a more stylish boxer than Eubank

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MVP believes DeGale is a more stylish boxer than Eubank

“Chris Eubank is more basic, but based on what I’ve seen from DeGale in the last few fights he’s changing his style and standing still too much.

“I feel if you stand with Eubank too much, with his combinations and the power he can overwhelm you for 12 rounds.

“It depends what DeGale comes in, if he decides to be slick, he has amazing power, if he moves his head and his feet he wins.

“But if he stands still I definitely give it to Eubank.”

MVP is more than just a troublesome sparring partner – in October 2017 he made his pro boxing debut with a third round stoppage and one year later moved to 2-0.

 Venom Page is currently signed to David Haye boxing promotion and stands 2-0 as a professional

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Venom Page is currently signed to David Haye boxing promotion and stands 2-0 as a professional
 MVP debuted in 2017 and moved to 2-0 a year later with two knockout victories to his name

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MVP debuted in 2017 and moved to 2-0 a year later with two knockout victories to his name

Keen to avoid the criticism Conor McGregor received when he made his money-grab boxing cameo against Floyd Mayweather in 2017, MVP has started from the bottom, though already signed to David Haye's Hayemaker promotions.

But despite being a boxing novice, Page would still “love” to test his pugilist skills against either of his former sparring foes, DeGale and Eubank.

He said: “I would love (the winner) – I love that. People are worried about records, especially in boxing, but if people are losing against each other, I think I can get one of them for sure.

“When I started boxing I was calling out the big names immediately, and a lot of these guys through horror stories from other gyms, people talking about how well I sparred, said they weren't interested.

 Venom Page said he is open to a fight with either DeGale or Eubank after they fight on Saturday

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Venom Page said he is open to a fight with either DeGale or Eubank after they fight on Saturday
 MVP believes, however, that he will be avoided by boxers in the future

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MVP believes, however, that he will be avoided by boxers in the future

“They said ‘He hasn’t got a record, he doesn’t do anything for me’. I do get that, but it would still be a big fight, but people aren't willing to take that risk.

“I was told to do it the hard way, go out and get a record so that’s why I’ve tried to do.”

THE PHRASE "sparring is sparring" is a cliche that will be used by almost every boxer at some point in their career.