Lost amid the turmoil of the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao announcement, a number of fairly high-profile matches will take place this Saturday. Yes, Tyson Fury will be fighting again, against Christian Hammer, a relatively unknown heavyweight probably best known for his awesome last name. Elsewhere, Carl Frampton will also be boxing against a man who is not Guillermo Rigondeaux. However, the most intriguing fight of this weekend is a bout buried in the undercard of the bloated, mismatched monstrosity that is Fury vs. Hammer, as middleweights Chris Eubank Jr. and Interim WBA titleholder Dmitry Chudinov clash.
Son of former middleweight and super-middleweight world champion Chris Livingstone Eubank, Chris Eubank Jr. (18-1, 13 KO's) is coming off of a tough split decision loss to the talented Billy Joe Saunders last November. Though he gave Saunders a tough fight, and had his moments in the later rounds, Saunders took advantage of Eubank Jr.'s slow start and clearly showed that, although Eubank is a great prospect, he has a lot of work to do. The young fighter looks to bounce back immediately into tough competition against sturdy Russian Dmitry Chudinov.
Chudinov (14-0-2, 9KO's) won his interim belt in late 2013 with a TKO of Juan Camillo Novoa, and since then, has finished Mehdi Bouadla and handed then-undefeated Dane Patrick Nielsen his first loss. Completely unphased by the hype surrounding Eubank Jr., Chudinov is confident that he'll add another blemish to Chris Eubank Jr.'s career.
Chris Eubank Jr
If boxing matches could be won off of swagger alone, Eubank Jr. would already be holding a championship belt.
Get a load of this guy
Eubank Jr. is a momentum fighter, by which I mean he feeds off of early success. If Eubank Jr. can get off early effective offense, as he did in the above clip against Omar Siala, he becomes noticeably more confident and flamboyant with his boxing. A confident Eubank Jr. is incredibly fan-friendly; he will drop his hands, throw from his hips, and rely more on slick head movement for defense to open up countering options for his blitzing offense. Despite his flashy style, Eubank Jr. is a difficult boxer to deal with because of his excellent ability to judge and manipulate distance.
This sequence is a great example of Eubank Jr.'s (yellow trunks) ability to take advantage of range in his offense. Eubank Jr. first flicks a jab at his opponent, Stepan Horvath. Horvath tries to leap in with a left to set up a combination following Eubank's recovering jab, but Eubank Jr. quickly reduces the range and ducks into Horvath, forcing a clinch and preventing Horvath from getting off his offense. Eubank Jr. then muscles off his opponent and jabs to establish distance. After digging into a jab that pushes Horvath back, Eubank Jr. capitalizes on the movement and mimes a right uppercut, causing Horvath to turn his left shoulder to ward off the blow, only to eat a clean left hook. Horvath attempts to recover by winging a hook, but Eubank Jr. easily ducks under and reestablishes distance.
It is this knowledge of distance manipulation between offense and defense that makes Eubank Jr. so effective at landing his damaging blows. Despite being fairly rangy for a middleweight, Eubank Jr. loves to throw hooks and uppercuts from mid-range, typically more risky punches due to their looping and slower nature. However, Eubank's ability to move within the pocket opens up a diverse range of offensive possibilities.
In this sequence, Eubank Jr. hooks low to the body, hurts Horvath, then ducks below a return right hook and slides back out of a winging left. Eubank's lean puts him slightly off balance, and he resets and lunges back in with a left hook combination that pressures Horvath into retreating across the ring. Eubank Jr. gives chase and as Horvath rebounds off of the ropes, digs in a vicious left hook to the body that puts Horvath down. This finish was made possible by Eubank's ability to land damaging blows up close, reset his distance to avoid damage, draw out the counter, and force his opponent onto the defensive.
Eubank Jr.'s offense, as previously mentioned, is reliant on his ability to control the distance in which the fight takes place. If his opponent tries to throw combinations from the outside, Eubank will dive in close, clog up the offence, and work the body. If his opponent tries to work on the inside, Eubank will roll off punches with a tight Philly Shell guard and muscle them off to create distance. At mid range, Eubank is at his best, ducking, slipping, and dodging before countering his blistering combinations of uppercuts and hooks. One of his go-to combinations is the right uppercut setup with the jab.
Eubank's left-uppercut combination rocks his opponent and sets him up for the finish
Eubank uses the left jab to get his opponents to lower their head, be it a deep level change if they duck or even a slight drop from a slip, to cause them to run into his uppercut. The uppercut is the punch Eubank commits the most to out of his entire arsenal. He rotates his entire body into it and punches diagonally across his torso, ensuring that his punch will contact with at least some part of his target with bad intentions.
For as talented as he is, Eubank Jr. is still green when it comes to the professional ranks. He has annihilated lesser competition, but in his bout with Billy Joe Saunders, Eubank Jr. had difficulty gaining an early advantage against the calculated offense of the Brit. If Eubank Jr. becomes too reliant on an early advantage, he may find difficulties as he moves up in competition.
A basic example of almost every Chudinov(black gloves) bout.
Dmitry Chudinov is a bully. He fights with a high-volume, bruising pace and is not afraid to take damage to deal damage. Dmitry's game plan is very straightforward. He takes control of the center of the ring and walks into his opponent with punches like a rock'em sock'em robot. The core of the Russian's offense is his setup for his brutal left hook to the body.
In this sequence, Dmitry (black trunks) wades into his opponent with a four punch combination to get close enough for a hook. As his opponent (Mehdi Bouadla) tries to step around to avoid punches and force Dmitry to reposition, Chudinov smoothly resets with small steps to always keep his opponent in front of him while continuing his constant barrage. When he pauses, Mehdi attempts to come back with a jab, bringing his body close enough for Dmitry to slip to the outside and whip a left hook to the body that drops Mehdi.
Similar to Eubank Jr., Dmitry does his best work from mid to close range, but unlike Eubank's variation between ranges for both offensive and defensive transitions, the Russian prefers to back his opponent up to the ropes, stand within punching distance, and throw hands. It is a very upfront, all offense approach that has been effective for him so far, but has not left Chudinov unscathed.
Dmitry's main weakness is his general lack of defensive movement, be it in his footwork, positioning, or head movement.
This is a classic example of Dmitry's (red gloves) offence. Against the taller Patrick Nielsen, Chudinov stalks forward with a ramrod stuck up his spine, feinting with his hands and winging jabs and wild hooks at the head and body. The rangier Nielsen, though backing up under the pressure, repeatedly tags Dmitry with his jab, and despite being the taller fighter, ducks under Dmitry's hooks before peppering the Russian with more jabs as he plods forward.
There is no taking away from Chudinov's grit or determination. The man seems to absorb punches to give them right back to his opponents, but should he run into an opponent with threatening punching power, Dmitry's reckless style could put him into some very difficult situations.
What to look for
This matchup will be intriguing to see which boxer can establish his game plan first. The early rounds will be crucial to determine whether Dmitry Chudinov will be able to establish his bullying, high volume rhythm, or if Eubank Jr. will establish control over the range and time his bursts of violent offense. Both fighters feed off of early success, but Eubank Jr.'s ability to punish the body while avoiding damage should give him an advantage over Dmitry's more simplistic style. In a division that is being steadily cleaned out by the monster that is Gennady Golovkin, a win now could quickly elevate either man into contender status.