Despite boasting a resume of 18 wins in 18 bouts, it would be fair to say that Christopher Livingston Eubank Junior has had things relatively easy in terms of the opposition he has faced since turning pro in 2011. Although in victory he has at times looked sensational, his opponents have mainly been less than stellar lowly ranked journeymen. It’s true, there have been murmurs of Chris impressing during sparring with the likes of George Groves and James De Gale and there is still a clip up on YouTube of him seemingly ‘holding his own’ against super-middleweight world champ Carl Froch, however, sparring sessions are essentially fight preparation and a very different experience to boxing ‘under the lights’ of a full to capacity arena. Ultimately, Eubank Jr. is still unproven and untested as a professional. The fact he had a relatively short amateur career (in the States) adds further fuel to the mystery regarding just how good he actually is. Who knows how he would cope in the face of true adversity? The mystique regarding the ability of this brash, Brighton raised pugilist is set to become clearer this coming Saturday night when he takes a huge step up in class and faces what will without doubt be his biggest challenge to date.
On the 29th of this month at London’s ExCel Arena Chris Eubank Jr. will be squaring off against the current undefeated Commonwealth, British and European middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders. Saunders is also currently ranked as the mandatory number one contender to challenge for the WBO middleweight crown. Should Eubank emerge victorious, he’ll walk away with everything including the world title shot. Many have questioned the wisdom of Billy Joe, a veteran of eight title fights at just 25, in accepting a voluntary defence of his titles to a lowly ranked yet potentially dangerous opponent.
“People are right when they say I don’t need him. He brings absolutely nothing to the party. He needs me, but I’m big on pleasing the fans, the man who works nine to five and pays £50 for his ticket to watch me fight. I’ll fight who they want me to fight. And I’ve got 30,000 people on Twitter saying they’ll pay to watch me give the boy a beating.”
Throughout the build up to this contest and even before it was announced, there have been no shortage of verbal attacks coming from Saunders expressing disdain towards his domestic rival. Earlier this year during an interview with SecondsOut.com Saunders was quoted as saying:
“Chris Eubank Jr is sh*t, it’s a joke, if I can’t beat him in five rounds, I swear on my son’s life I’d give up boxing. My dad would beat me with a chain if I didn’t beat him. He irritates everybody. It would be a great pleasure to be the one to give him a beating. If I see him I’d probably slap him cause he’s arrogant and I hate arrogant people.”
This wouldn’t be first time that the word arrogance or the notion of getting under an opponent’s skin has been synonymous with the name Eubank. Clearly, much like his flamboyant former world champion father, the younger Chris shares a talent for enraging his opposition without even trying. Other features he’s adopted include his namesake’s dramatic ring entrance which involves shadowboxing with Tina Turner’s, ‘Simply The Best’ playing in the background then vaulting himself over the top rope before continuing to strut around the ring canvas. Whilst many have criticised what seems to be the mimicking of his dad, it is arguably the hype generated from these type of antics along with a number of cavalier statements from Chris Sr. “I believe he beats Gennady Golovkin today. He possesses perfect movement and punching ability unseen since Mike Tyson. He’ll be better than Floyd Mayweather.” When questioned on the idea he is copying his father his response to The Guardian was:
“It is in my blood. I have got royal blood coursing through my veins. I can’t help myself doing what my father did. It is being around him every day and watching his fights. Being his son. It is just how I fight. I am an entertainer.”
The fact that Billy Joe Saunders has never lost, was an outstanding amateur who went to the Beijing Olympics at just 18 and is currently the holder of several prestigious titles seems to have no bearing on the Eubank duo. The man Jr. refers to as “Average Joe” has been dismissed as nothing more than a stepping stone who will be disposed of accordingly within 5 or 6 rounds en route to world honors.
The promotion for Saturday night’s boxing match has been given the title ‘Bad Blood’ which is partially in reference to the scheduled headliner between feuding British rivals Tyson Fury and Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora. Whilst both match-ups are intriguing in there own right, in recent weeks momentum has continued to build around the chief supporting bout to an extent where it now appears to have captured the imagination of the public and taken over as the main attraction. After months of back and forth proclamations the collision of two totally different worlds will finally take place. The untested public school educated son of a famous eccentric facing-off against the tried and tested southpaw who beat the odds emerging from a bare-knuckle fighting Romani travelling community then going on to become a national champion. Whoever emerges victorious will no doubt be considered as a major player on the world boxing stage while the loser faces the prospect of drifting into domestic level obscurity along with an inevitable tirade of ridicule. Opinion and boxing betting is now split down the middle in what has become one the most highly anticipated British showdowns in recent memory. In terms of pedigree and experience, everything points to a Billy Joe Saunders victory but if Eubank is even a fraction as talented as his dad claims he is then it should prove to be a very interesting contest.