There was something about the sight of Chris Eubank Jr standing calmly over a fallen Avni Yildrim on Saturday night as the defeated Turkish boxer’s adopted home fans in Stuttgart booed and jeered the result. Something familiar. Something ominous.
For the first time since turning pro, Junior wasn’t a Eubank purely by name. He had put in a performance reminiscent of his father’s heyday, on the type of stage Senior did so many times. It was the performance, the finish, the victory and the composed-yet-fulfilled reactions that his father has for four years promised us from his son.
Eubank Jr has always had the tools, and he’s certainly put in the hard work. But as far as following in his old man’s footsteps goes, until this weekend there was only really cast-iron evidence that he was a chip off the old block in the trash-talking department.
And given how frequently the two appear on camera and how many old Eubank mannerisms have been purposefully incorporated into his marketing image, nobody can make the argument that Junior would rather not be inundated with comparisons to his dad.
That being said, whether he wants to have his famous father in every camera shot with him or not, the destruction of Yildirim was the first time Junior really moved clear of that large shadow cast over him from the moment he laced up a pair of boxing gloves.
The World Boxing Super Series, an eight-man single elimination tournament being held at Eubank’s super-middleweight as well as one at cruiserweight, really is the perfect project for Junior’s second stab at becoming a second-generation megastar.
Overshadowed by questionable career moves, such as taking on Billy Joe Saunders far too soon and enduring a humbling defeat as a result and such as calling out the likes of Gennady Golovkin only to sabotage the negotiations and then attempt to pour scorn on Kell Brook, who gamely took the fight in Jr’s absence, the 28-year-old is benefitting from the basic and old-fashioned competitive format, perhaps more than any of the 15 other entrants.
Despite the misguided and perhaps even downright bloodthirsty opinions of ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael that the fight was stopped far too early, make no mistake about it: Eubank Jr did a number on Yildirim in enemy territory and the referee spared the clearly-hurt Turk a further beating by rightly calling it in the third.
”He was a strong , come-forward fighter like I thought he was going to be, but the experience was not there for him,” said Eubank Jr.
“He was 16-0, but I think he needs to work technically on his boxing ability. To compete with a fighter like me, you have to come with more than just big, heavy punches, coming forward. If you do that, I’m going to catch you,”
It was the just what his career needed, but it’s worth remembering that these quarter-finals feature four seeds hand-picking their opponents from the four non-seeded boxers. None of the possibilities are the easiest fights any of the seeded boxers will ever have, but the competition will no doubt heat up for the semis and the final.
Especially as he is likely to face George Groves in the last four, if ‘Saint’ George gets past Jamie Cox next week at Wembley Arena, as he’s expected to.
If we do indeed have a Eubank-Groves fight on the cards a week from now, it will be Junior’s first test at the level of the Saunders title challenge since that loss three years ago. It’s the sort of domestic dust-up that will have the eyes of the country glued to it. And it will tell us even more about the future of Eubank Jr than anything so far.
”Groves is an experienced, well rounded fighter, and that’s why the boxing fans want to see that fight, because they know it’s going to be competitive, and they know it’s going to be exciting,” said Eubank Jr after his QF win.
”I’m back in the gym tomorrow. Groves, I’m coming for you. I guess I have to [attend Groves vs. Cox next Saturday].
“These guys are in the tournament. These are the guys I’m fighting, so I want to see up close what they’re made of. I know I have the beating of them. I’ll be there to make sure they’re toeing the line.”
“I’ve been trying to get a fight now with Groves for a few years,” said Eubank Jr. ”He has a world title. He has the name. We have the history, and the boxing fans have been asking for this fight for years. We need to get the ring and settle it once and for all.
“George Groves signed on the dotted line to compete in this tournament. So as long as he wins his next fight, we’re going to get it on and give the people what they want to see.”
Source: Liam Happe| Yahoo