The British super middleweight assesses the other top 168-pounders, the life lessons that changed him and a trip across the pond.
Chris Eubank Jr. can enjoy his moment in the sunshine right now.
Eubank’s last name has opened plenty of doors in boxing, but when you don’t live up to the hype, that heritage can become a curse.
Eubank knew there would not have been many more chances if he came up short against James DeGale. But the victory over the former IBF super middleweight champion last month was conclusive.
“I knew I was going to do it, I knew I had to do it,” said Eubank. “It was the most satisfying and rewarding moment of my career in terms of status, financial reward, proving the doubters wrong and putting myself back into the position where I need to be, which is at the top of the food chain.
There were no big celebrations after Eubank’s win. Within a fortnight he was back in his gym on the seafront in Brighton. There are few more grim places than British seaside resorts in the depths of winter. For the DeGale fight, runs along the promenade were dark and lonely, as rain often blew in off the English Channel.
Eubank, 28-2 (21 KOs), can’t afford a long break if he wants to fulfill his hopes of three fights in 2019.
The target? “Anyone with a belt at middleweight or super middleweight,” Eubank said.
Summer is on the way and Eubank is heating up. His gym is underneath a playground, with trampolines and a mini golf course refurbished for the new season, waiting for the first holidaymakers. But just as the weather is warming, Eubank is thinking of relocating. He is planning to move his regular training base to Las Vegas, so he can work full-time with Nate Vasquez at Floyd Mayweather’s gym.
Vasquez was installed as Eubank’s trainer before the DeGale fight. Prior to that, he had largely trained himself.
“It made a big difference,” Eubank said. “It was the first time I had really gone into a fight with a game plan.”
The pecking order among Britain’s super middleweights is changing too. DeGale announced his retirement weeks after his old rival George Groves did. Today, Callum Smith, the WBA champion, and Eubank rule the roost.
There are plenty of options in the US for Eubank. Caleb Plant impressively claimed the IBF title in January, while David Benavidez and Anthony Dirrell both have claims to the WBC belt. Other likely opponents include ormer world champions Peter Quillin and Caleb Truax. Quillin and Truax will square off on Saturday, April 13, at the Armory in Minneapolis on Fox Sports 1 (10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT).
“These are all very exciting fights,” Eubank said. “There is a large amount of talent in the super middleweight division. But these guys, in my opinion, are all beatable.
“ There is a large amount of talent in the super middleweight division. But these guys...are all beatable. ” Super Middleweight Contender - Chris Eubank Jr.
“I sparred Benavidez in Las Vegas. I saw him against [J’Leon] Love, who I don’t rate, but that was a good performance while it lasted. Smith and Benavidez are huge for the weight, just from their size they would probably be the most challenging. Dirrell is definitely a fight I would be interested in. Plant is a slick boxer and has a lot of skills.”
Eubank’s father, Chris Sr., the former two-division world champion, was part of another fabulous group of British super middleweights in the early 90s, along with Nigel Benn and Michael Watson.
Eubank Sr. passed on fighting genes to his son, but also a first-hand lesson of how not to handle fame and fortune.
“He earned millions and millions and millions and ended up bankrupt,” Eubank said of his father. “Obviously it was very unfortunate for him, but for me to see that taught me a lot.
“There were loads of things he did and bought that I didn’t understand. He used to take me to school in a 20-ton truck. I’d walk into his wardrobe and I’d see 50 pairs of the same shoes. That is just how it was and people loved him for it.
“Most fighters, unfortunately, are not educated, they come from hardship, so they were in the gym instead of learning. When you come from nothing and you get something, they feel they have to show everyone that they have got stuff now. Then it is gone. Sure, I will buy a few nice things but the majority of my money is in responsible places, where it is going to stay and grow. I believe you should save 80 per cent and spend 20 per cent.”
All that sounds good until one sees Eubank’s McLaren parked outside.
“It’s an investment,” Eubank insisted. “I am going to get it customized at a good rate and then I should be able to sell it after driving it for two years for more money than I bought it for.”
Eubank plans to leave the car behind and return to Vegas this week. If his next bout turns out to be in the US, it could be mid-summer until he is home.
“If I am fighting out there, I might as well train there,” Eubank said. “I’m with PBC and Showtime now, so I have the strongest American team behind me now and I’m sure they are looking to get me out to the States at some point. It will be a nice change to expose myself more to the American public. We’ll see what happens.”
- Chris Eubank Jr