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Chris Eubank Junior vows to be at his best for Sheffield’s boxing fans
Chris Eubank Junior will make his fourth professional appearance when taking on York’s Harry Matthews over six-threes at Sheffield’s Hillsborough Leisure Centre live on Channel 5 tomorrow night. The 22-year-old has already attracted considerable attention as he is following in the footsteps of his father, former WBO middle and super middleweight champion Chris Eubank Senior.
Despite already having three televised fights under his belt – wins over Kirill Psonko, Jason “Daddy Cool” Ball and Paul Allison – and an unblemished 3-0 (2) record, Eubank feels that he has a point to prove. His previous outing in Yorkshire saw him go the distance for the first time in the paid ranks after struggling with an injury to his right knuckle going into a gritty six-threes decision win over Ball at Rotherham’s Magna Centre in February
“It is nice and will be better than the last time I fought in Yorkshire because I don’t have any injury problems, can use both hands and have trained well going into this fight,” said Eubank when speaking to Britishboxers.co.uk. “I have seen one of his [Matthews's] fights. He comes to win and it is going to be exciting. I’m coming in even better than last time out to show the people that I’m improving. I am well prepared and ready to look even better this time around.”
Eubank Junior made his professional début against Lithuania’s Psonko in November of last year. He was accompanied to the ring by his father and with the familiar strains of Tina Turner’s Simply The Best, Eubank Senior’s anthem, ringing around Manchester’s Event City venue. When he vaulted the top rope, as his father used to, the crowd went wild, with many predicting that a new crossover star had been unearthed. Although aware of the pressure his famous surname brings, the former Nevada Golden Gloves titlist believes that with each successive win he is creating a new Eubank legacy and brand identity.
He said: “Definitely, I have got the name, obviously, and it makes people pay attention because I have that name, but the more I fight the better I perform. I can slowly break away from my father and make my own name, especially the more I fight live on Channel 5.”
You can have pedigree, talent and potential in abundance, but there is nothing quite like learning the ropes by steadily moving through the levels. Indeed, any thoughts that the Brighton-based boxer could jump straight into title contention were dispelled during his win over Allison in Belfast on April 14 as the prospect took a few shots himself before stopping the Scottish fighter in round four. The return fire gave Eubank pause for thought. Although he is aware that boxers invariably have to ship punches, he has been working hard in the gym to tighten his own defence.
“You can’t jump in the water without getting wet, but obviously we always work on defence and tightening things up with head movement,” said Eubank when asked if he felt the impact of Allison’s shots. “I’m getting better and better in different aspects of m boxing, and will show it in this fight.”
His sole decision win is arguably the best of his career thus far as Eubank could only use his left hand when beating Doncaster’s Jason Ball by 58-56 on referee Howard Foster’s scorecard. Eubank believes that the experience gained during this struggle will prove invaluable as he moves into contention.
He said: “That was something that most fighters will never have to experience in their careers. I had confidence in my boxing ability and that it would carry me through the fight. I’m very proud of what I did. It is something I can look back on and think, ‘Wow, I did that’, and I couldn’t really ask for more.”
Eubank is a great physical specimen, he also looks well-balanced when throwing his punches. His physical advantages are augmented by hard work in the gym and dedication to his craft. “Everything that you bring to the ring is something you’ve worked on in the gym,” said Eubank.
“Balance is a very important part of boxing because if you can’t keep your feet on the ground you’ll look sloppy and get caught with silly shots. You see a lot of fighters suffering from knockdowns because they’re off balance, but they’re not really hurt. It is about keeping my feet in the right position and getting off with my shots it also allows you to get out of the way of punches. It is something I’m still working on in training.”
Unlike many prospects, Eubank’s every in-ring movement is beamed to millions of people. It is a daunting situation and Eubank, perhaps, runs the risk of performing for the cameras rather than relaxing and fighting his own fight. The boxer, though, insists that he shuts the crowd and TV audience out as soon as the first bell goes and is completely focussed, as well as undaunted, when boxing before the TV cameras.
“Boxing live on TV it is a dream,” said Eubank. “A fighter can’t ask for any more than to be fighting for millions of people. It is a privilege to have that honour early on in my career. People say, ‘Do you get nervous with so many people watching you?’, and of course it is a type of pressure, but having all those expectations makes me train and work harder to perform at my best.
“I think it is because of the person I am. I have been through a few things in my life and in boxing. I was thrown in at the deep end in Las Vegas early in my amateur career, sparring guys who were more experienced – you learn a lot about yourself and what you can handle. I can handle situations well, they don’t faze me as much as they faze other fighters.”
Eubank’s time in Vegas was a crash course in top-level boxing. Floyd Mayweather Senior took an interest in the youngster and trained him for a while before Eubank returned home and hooked up with current coach Ronnie Davies. Working with Mayweather Senior gave Eubank the opportunity to watch Mayweather Junior prepare for his fights; he soon realised that the “secret” of Mayweather’s success isn’t really a secret at all.
“I used to watch Floyd train,” he said. “I trained with Floyd Senior and he would take me to watch Floyd spar. I picked up little tips, stuff that you’d never see anywhere else in the world. Words can’t describe how talented he is and how dedicated he is. This dedication makes him the sportsman he is. It was great to be around him.”
So is the “hard work and dedication” often mentioned by “Money” Mayweather the one thing that sets him apart from other guys who have natural talent yet never tap into it? “That is the only thing it could be,” answered Eubank. “You don’t get to where he is, undefeated record, many titles and millions of dollars, without vigorous training. It is why other people can’t do it. It is not just like God gave it all to him one night – he trains hard for it.”
Eubank has taken a leaf from Mayweather’s book when it comes to training. When it comes to talking, however, the fledgling pro is not quite ready to start calling out domestic names and demanding titles. “I only had 26 amateur fights and I’ve had three professional fights, so I’m technically a novice and won’t say I want this or that guy,” he stated.
“It is about taking each opponent as they come, getting the rounds under my belt and getting as much experience as I can – it is onwards and upwards. This time around in Sheffield, expect me to do things bigger and better than last time. I want to stop Matthews within the First three rounds.”
Matthews made a promising start to his own career by racing to 9-0, including a stoppage win over the tough Terry Carruthers, before dropping a decision to Belfast’s Ciaran Healy in June 2010. An English middleweight title defeat to Nick Blackwell in November of the same year prompted a dramatic loss of form for “The Pocklington Rocket”, who has slumped to 12-5-1 (2) and must be low on confidence despite picking up a W in his last fight – a four-threes decision over Nottingham’s Gilson De Jesus in March. The 24-year-old, though, has always managed to make it to the final bell, Eubank will have to be on form if he is to fulfil his pre-fight prediction.
|The Face Off|