Eubank! As soon as you hear the name, thoughts immediately evoke memories of a swashbuckling eccentric who thrilled the public in wars against the likes of Michael Watson, Nigel Benn, Steve Watson and Carl Thompson. His Marmite personality meant that you either loved him or hated him but by the end of his boxing career, he gained the respect of everyone as a tough, skilled and accomplished warrior. Add the name ‘Junior’ to the end and you get a similar reaction of love or hate. Some label him an over-hyped daddy’s boy, making a lucrative living off the back of his father’s famous name. Other’s romanticise that he is the second coming of Eubank, a showman with style, a penchant for theatrics and a devil may care attitude to controversy.
Following his split-decision defeat to Billy Joe Saunders in 2014, boxing fans remained as divided as the judges. The naysayers claiming that this was proof that Eubank Jr was overrated. He was indeed thoroughly out-boxed and outclassed by the fundamentally superior Saunders. On the other hand, his defenders stated that despite fighting in his first 12 round contest against the more seasoned Saunders, he came on strong in the later rounds, winning the second half of the fight and showing admirable grit and determination in his losing effort. In short, we felt no closer in discovering the true legitimacy of Eubank Jr’s credentials.
Since that night his career would follow the same pattern. For every question answered, another would be asked. Was he exposed by Saunders or did he take the fight too soon? He dominated lower level opponents but should he have knocked them out conclusively? Did he dodge Golovkin or was the deal offered to him unfair? He has an exciting style and famous name but does he justify the pay-per-view price to watch him? Did his IBO title elevate him to elite status or is it an insignificant trinket? What does beating a past his peak but still serviceable Arthur Abraham prove? Much like his father, he brings showmanship to a sport that reveres entertainers, both in and out of the ring. Outside of the ring he has provoked annoyance from some and admiration from others for his opinionated views. Then inside the ring, he has an air of supreme confidence, posing and posturing before tearing into his opponent, at times with skillful savagery to appease his followers and at other times vindicating his doubters by attacking with clumsy and reckless abandon.
The name he shares with his legendary father stirs nostalgia. Some who detested Eubank Senior during his pomp, passionately hope that Junior fails spectacularly. Equally there are those who believe he can add glorious chapters to the Eubank legacy and will passionately support him in doing so. There are those that claim he is only famous because of his father and the benefits he is granted such as the opportunity to have a televised debut would never have happened otherwise. On the flip side, that itself brings it’s own pressures; by being the son of a famous and accomplished boxer, he must perform exceptionally or risk being scrutinised for every imperfection. The one thing these haters and fans have in common is their passion. Whether it’s to love or loath the Eubank’s, fans want to see where Junior’s story leads, so which ever side of the fence you sit, the career of Eubank Jr is a compelling one to watch unfold.
In joining the World Boxing Super Series, we will get to see whether the tale of the Eubank legacy will end in tragedy or triumph. Supposing he gets past Avni Yildirim, he could potentially face compatriots George Groves in the semi-final and Callum Smith in the final, in what would be domestic blockbusters that the boxing world will pay attention to.
Early failure in this tournament would be disastrous for Eubank Jr and the doubters would feel justified for claiming he was a hype job, opportunist, cashing in on his famous name. Victory against some of the toughest names in the division, would be hugely significant as he would add substance to his undeniable style. Winning the tournament would allow him to take the Eubank name, so synonymous with his father and give it new meaning; so when the name is mentioned, people will wax lyrical about both Senior and Junior in the same breath. So far in Eubank Jr’s career he has answered questions of his ability inconclusively, but this unique tournament will finally tell us if Chris Eubank Jr can be ‘Simply The Best.’