2017 – the year of Eubank Jnr
We look at what the famous son must do to escape his father’s shadow
Think Chris Eubank and you immediately cast your mind back to those pulsating clashes with old foe Nigel Benn in the early 1990s. Was there ever a better time to follow British boxing?
But, you see, that’s the problem that faces new kid on the block Chris Eubank Jnr who, despite taking the game by storm, the son of a famous father finds it impossible to step out from that enormous shadow. At the start of what promises to be a massive 12-months in his career, we look at what the talented 27-year-old must do to steal the limelight.
Step out into the light
Firstly, I’d ask – why does he want to? Being his father’s son has done him no harm so far and his name alone has earned him more money and ensured he jumped the queue. When I made my professional debut, at London’s ExCel Centre, it was about as far away from glamourous as you can imagine. I shared a changing room (if you could call it that) with my opponent. We warmed up beforehand, casting awkward glances across the room, before going to batter lumps out of each other in front of Sky Sports TV cameras and a crowd baying for blood, all for £1000. My friends and family spent more at the Docklands venue’s bar that night. It’s the same at the start of most fighter’s career, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s proper boxing.
Compare that to the professional bow of Eubank Jnr, who boxed on the undercard of Tyson Fury at Manchester’s Trafford Park. Mainstream press wanted to see his debut, not because of his silky skills, but because of who his dad is.
Daddy’s here to stay
That’s not to say the middleweight boxer isn’t a class act. He has strung together an impressive CV reading 23 wins, against just one defeat, with that coming on points against, now, world champion Billy Joe Saunders. Experts believed Saunders would blow him away that night but, in the end, there was little in it, with Eubank boosting his stock despite the result.
Since first lacing up the professional gloves in 2011, the banger from Brighton has won the British title, and was seen stopping Dmitrii Chudinov for an interim WBA world title, but that match-up has done little to impress fight fans. Don’t mention ITV PPV.
Some followers of the game believe that, if Chris is to move out of his father’s shadow, he must drop him from his training team and ban him from the corner during fights. An interesting point, but if my old man had a wealth of knowledge like his, not to mention the connections, I wouldn’t be putting much distance between us. With regards to banning Snr from the corner, or asking him to tone it down a bit – you’ve got to laugh. I don’t think daddy knows the meaning of the word modesty – and neither he should with what he’s achieved.
America is calling
So, how can boy match up, and better, dad’s achievements? Well, after one or two more victories, he must get back into the ring with Billy Joe Saunders and give it a go from the first bell. In their initial encounter he held too much back for the second-half of the bout. The public want to see a rematch, and he’d gain the respect of fans by giving them it.
A few meetings with some names in America won’t hurt either. Golovkin is the one everyone wants, beat him and he can retire a legend, but it’s too soon to even be getting in the ring with GGG. Instead, there’s a couple of others across the pond that would make for better nights, like Dominic Wade, Willie Munroe Jr and Miracle Man Daniel Jacobs. Make Miguel Cotto an offer he can’t refuse. Super-welterweight Saul Alvarez is also a real option, but that would have to be at middleweight to give the Englishman the best chance.
2017 promises to be a career-defining year for Eubank Jnr, but shaking off his dad’s name – I wouldn’t bet on it!