By Gleb Kuzin
Chris Eubank Jr. always seems to be on the cusp of doing something significant, but it never comes to pass. What is he really up to? Let’s find out!
It’s been almost three years since Chris Eubank Junior entered into the discussion of the world’s top middleweights and made it onto the shortlist of possible opponents for middleweight menace Gennady Golovkin. The fans’ calls for the best matchups for Eubank Jr. have never been answered, whilst Eubank Sr. has continued to run his mouth, stir up talk, concoct rivalries, and insult everyone around the 160s.
Chris Eubank Jr. has been featured on UK PPV in fights for stakes as irrelevant as the IBO World Championship and yet his paychecks have already crossed the magic line of 7 figures. He has become a star in his homeland of England, but who is he really to the boxing world?
What does it take for a young fighter to become internationally recognized? Let’s try and draw some typical paths to stardom in order to understand Next Gen‘s accent.
There are former amateur standouts such as Vasyl Lomachenko, Anthony Joshua, Michael Conlan, Claressa Shields, and others.
There are notable prospects who sign early with powerful managers, promoters, and advisors. Fighters like Erickson Lubin, Felix Verdejo, Callum Smith, and many more. Offspring of famous fathers usually fall into this category.
There are also breakthrough fighters. The men who beat the men they were not supposed to beat. Adrian Granados became the perfect example of his archetype when he scored a huge upset win over Amir Imam and then gave Adrien Broner a tougher fight than he was supposed to.
And then there are also international sensations like Naoya Inoue who shatter records at an early age. However, they are one-of-a-kind.
There are two popular angles used by the boxing public to rank and evaluate professional boxers: the “eye test” and resume. The “eye test” reflects how talented a boxer appears in their fights, including those among mediocre opposition. But to climb the lists, not the governing bodies rankings, but to win the respect of the boxing audience and be seen as one of the best in the division, one must eventually build up a list of names. Whilst the “eye test” is something subjective and you may or may believe that Eubank Jr. has passed it, the quality of his resume speaks for itself:
November 2014 – Billy Joe Saunders
The first step up for Eubank Jr. after a procession of cab drivers. Next Gen finally squared off against a solid unbeaten prospect in Billy Joe, and he was out-worked en route to a narrow points loss. Saunders has since become famous for taking the WBO Middleweight belt hostage.
February 2015 – Dmitrii Chudinov
Following his first loss, Eubank faced Chudinov. Unbeaten (but with 2 draws), the Russian prospect had proved that he has goods, but also serious holes and weaknesses in his game. Close minded, one-dimensional, unable to adjust his gameplan, Chudinov had little chance of holding on to the top, and Eubank sent Chudinov into irrelevance.
October 2015 – Tony Jeter
Eubank earned a WBA Interim title for the Chudinov win, and he honored it with a first defence against an unknown journeyman from the British domestic scene. Eubank gave Jeter his 4th KO loss and he hasn’t been heard from since.
December 2015 – Gary O’Sullivan
One of a series of “stay busy” fights, this matchup was taken to avoid Danny Jacobs. O’Sullivan at the time was nothing but a domestic level fighter, and he has remained one since the loss.
March 2016 – Nick Blackwell
Nick Blackwell was not treated as a complete cherry pick for Eubank, but a fight that could be competitive on some level. All of Blackwell’s prior losses came to respected world-title contenders, including is the current WBO Middleweight Champion. Nick Blackwell found some early success, however the fight quickly progressed onto one-sided onslaught with Blackwell collapsing inside the ring following the outrageously late 10 round TKO stoppage.
Juny 2016 — Tom Doran
Following the trauma of the Blackwell fight, Eubank Jr. took on an easy fight (even by his standards) against the untested and little known domestic prospect Tom Doran. The night ended early with Eubank taking the gold home in a showcase performance.
February 2017 – Renold Quinlan
Following a fluke win over Daniel Geale, Renold Quinlan was open to a good cashout payday, and Eubank Jr. was the man to choose him as dancing partner to celebrate his brand new ITV PPV deal. Quinlan showed nothing aside from his heart of a lion. Unsurprisingly, that was not enough to overcome Eubank.
July 2017 – Artur Abraham
At one time Artur Abraham was recognized as the #1 Middleweight and then one of the best Super Middleweights in the world. He was a frightening and difficult opponent for everyone. With his typical German turtling style, very few could crack his guard. But by the time of fighting Chris Eubank, Abraham was nothing more than a dead shell of his past self. And that’s exactly what he showed in the fight: a complete inability and lack of desire to perform a sustained attack on his opponent.
This son of a beloved champion – one of the best known British boxers of all time – has had an easy time early in his career. He has beaten every journeyman they put in front of him in dominant fashion. In his most significant moment, Chris Eubank Jr. found himself in a position to challenge undefeated prospect Billy Joe Saunders for 3 regional belts and the opportunity to put himself in the title contention. Instead Eubank Jr. suffered a competitive loss, the first setback in his career.
Just three months after the loss, Eubank challenged upcoming contender Dmitrii Chudinov. Chris Eubank Jr. exploited Chudinov’s vulnerabilities and took a hard fought TKO victory along with Dmitrii’s WBA Interim belt. After that, Chris Eubank Jr. he regressed to fighting untested domestic prospects and journeymen.
Earlier this year he was presented with another opportunity. In order to enter the World Boxing Super Series we would first have to beat the aged veteran Artur Abraham. He passed that test and today he enters the WBSS tournament.
In summary, what pattern does Next Gen’s career resemble? A young boxer builds up a winning streak, loses to a top prospect, comes back against another prospect with a victory for an interim title, gives it up to fight a row of journeymen and domestic level prospects and contenders, tops it off with a gritty, but old and exhausted veteran, to eventually join a tournament designed to turn young prospects into respected world-class boxers.
Go through all the fog and blur, the paychecks and the status of the Eubank name, and what remains is a promising prospect, albeit one still months away from his first title fight. Promotional work from both of the Chris Eubanks have elevated the youngster to heights of celebrity he has yet to deserve, but he will enter the ring on Saturday night in the same position as his opponent Avni Yildirim. This will be a fight between two young hungry prospects, both believing it is their time. And after a firefight, one will pronounce himself as the future. A future, that is yet to come.
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WBSS Super Middleweights: Chris Eubank Jr – When Fists Can’t Keep Up With The Mouth was originally published in sundaypuncher on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.