Eubank Jr Helping Khan for Cotto? Or is Khan Helping Eubank Jr?

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FullSizeRender-7Middleweight Chris Eubank, Jr. (18 – 1) posted a photo on Instagram with former two-time World Champion Amir Khan (30 – 3) accompanied by a caption:

“Training with @amirkingkhan at the Khan Academy gym in Bolton. Feeling strong & ready for the 28th #TeamEubank.”

This photo may not be worth a thousand words, but it is worth a closer look in spite of that. Khan and Eubank training together seems a bit unconventional on the surface. Eubank’s next opponent does not resemble Amir Khan’s athleticism or style in any capacity and Khan’s new home at 147 renders training sessions with middleweights as a bit of overkill but there may be something to it for one or both of the fighters.

In Chris Eubank, Jr.’s case, this could be a response to his recent loss to undefeated Billy Joe Saunders (21 – 0). That fight may have been a close majority decision, but it highlighted a significant deficiency in Eubank’s game. Saunders was able to outbox Eubank easily for the first 5 rounds of the fight with a nice jab and an ability to control range, either by quickly stepping out of reach or darting in to smother Eubank’s power. It wasn’t until Saunders began to fatigue and plant his feet, that Eubank was able to get into the fight and do some damage. Unfortunately, he was unable to maintain the pace that was needed and finish the job. The message was clear; if Chris Eubank, Jr. were able to close distance better in those early rounds, he would have won the fight.

This may be where Amir Khan comes in. Eubank, Jr. may be going for something I call “The Tetris Effect.” If you have ever played the game, you know that once you get accustomed to those higher, faster levels, the first few levels seem to go in slow motion when you return to them. It is possible that Eubank wants to feel the speed of Khan in the ring in order to get comfortable and “slow things down” for his next fight.

While no one would ever consider current WBA interim middleweight champion Dmitry Chudinov (14 – 0) a speed-demon in the ring, he does throw decent combinations (a bit wide) with some power. It may be in Eubank’s best interest to get in the ring with Khan and experience his blazing fast combinations and footwork. Khan is by no means there to mimic Chudinov, but maybe it is a case of Eubank working on his weaknesses before a big fight.

On the other hand, maybe this is more for the benefit of Amir Khan. Recently, Amir has been calling out… well… Everyone. One of the guys he has called out is middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (39 – 4) at 155lbs. Might Amir Khan be preparing himself for another jump in weight to challenge Cotto?

There have been reports that former champion Tim Bradley Jr. (31 – 1) is next in line for Cotto if a fight with Mayweather falls through but that does not mean Khan is out of the running. Tim Bradley isn’t known to light the box office on fire, and it would do nothing for Cotto to beat him at 160lbs. If anything, a win against a light punching welterweight would likely further tarnish his middleweight championship run after, not defending his title against legitimate contenders in the weight class. I will not go into the reasons why Tim Bradley should turn the fight down at 160lbs. If he were to take that fight, it would have to be a cash grab. That is the only thing that would make sense.

The question for Cotto is that without the benefit of increased ticket sales or some added shine on his legacy, what would be the point? Let’s be clear here; Amir Khan is not the perfect answer, but it certainly seems like a better answer than a fight with Bradley. At the very least, you have a pure speed vs. skill matchup. You also have higher ticket sales and a subplot with Cotto trainer Freddie Roach having been Khan’s trainer in the past.

So, is Amir “King” Khan testing the middleweight waters in anticipation of a June fight with Cotto? Is Chris Eubank, Jr. trying to correct some deficiencies and slow down the sport before his upcoming fight? I look forward to seeing the rest of this story play out over the next few weeks.