Sometimes, you can just tell a fighter is special. Or that he or she at least has some special qualities to them.
It can be the way they carry themselves, the way they handle competition on the way up the ranks. It might even be how they seem to make every alleged test look like a walk in the park.
Then, you have some fighters that give off opposite vibes -- but still, something seems off. They might win a few decent fights and even pick up a title or two along the way. Hell, there are plenty of those things laying around. Still, one gets the sense that something just seems to be missing with this fighter.
After watching a few fights of a potential prospect, I have usually made up my mind as to which category a fighter will likely occupy. In fairness, I may miss the mark, but I will have still taken aim and fired.
Every so often, however, you encounter fighters that just seem a little more difficult to figure out. They can seem on the road to the top in one fight and like a car crash in the very next. They have plenty of whatever "it" might be, you're just not sure if "it" will come together for them.
In other words, you come across a fighter like Chris Eubank, Jr.
Boxing since 2011, the son of British great Chris Eubank, Sr. has had quite the eventful career thus far. After starting out the way of many young prospects by beating an assortment of part-time fighters and no-hopers, he seemed fast tracked for stardom based on his exciting style and name.
However, that fast track hit a speed bump when, at 18-0 w/ 13 KOs, Eubank faced his much-hated domestic rival Billy Joe Saunders. Though Eubank put forth a valiant effort, the skillful Saunders managed to squeeze out a twelve round split decision.
When a rematch didn't follow, Eubank proceeded to move his career along by effectively cleaning up at the domestic level. He beat the likes of Gary O'Sullivan and Nick Blackwell before picking up the scalp of the ever-faded Arthur Abraham in 2017.
However, his next real test was in the World Boxing Super Series, in which the Middleweight participated at his less-than-ideal weight of 168 pounds. While he easily handled Avni Yildirim in the first round, he was simply out-crafted by veteran George Groves in the semi-finals.
Nonetheless, after his exit from the aforementioned tournament, he picked up the biggest win of his career in 2019 with a decision over James DeGale. He followed up said performance with a couple of other solid wins, if not spectacular wins.
Still, the issue of what to make of Eubank persists. Is he the man capable of actually winning on the biggest stage consistently, or is he a fighter with a name that can hang around in bigger fights -- even win a few of them -- but will ultimately never make his home in the upper echelon of the sport?
Well, in my opinion, the odds suggest we won't be any closer to answering that question this weekend.
On Saturday, in the first fight of a newly-struck deal between Sky Sports and Chris Eubank, the aforementioned will battle little-heralded Anatoli Muratov, stepping in for Sven Elbir who tested positive for Covid-19, in a Middleweight clash. And a clash that can only be described as a stay-busy encounter.
On Saturday, in the first fight of a newly-struck deal between Sky Sports and Eubank, the Brit will battle Anatoli Muratov in a Middleweight clash. Muratov steps in for Sven Elbir who had to withdraw due to a positive Covid-19 test. The clash will headline at the SSE Arena, Wembley, on Saturday, and can only be described as a keep-busy affair.
With all due respect to Muratov, but outside of having an OK record at 24-2-1 and what appears to be solid power, he likely isn't going to give us the clarity some of us may seek in regards to Eubank.
This isn't that fight.
However, presuming Eubank gets through this initial test, now is the time that Chris needs to decide if he wants to be taken seriously as a fighter or is simply looking for the easiest paycheck.
Granted, all fighters are looking for the bag. I understand. However, looking at the history of how Eubank has positioned himself when it pertains to getting the biggest fights made, he's either priced himself out or found other reasons and excuses to avoid those encounters.
First, he had an opportunity to face then-number one Middleweight in the world Gennadiy Golovkin before stipulating that he and his team wanted control over everything from the commentary crew to the security staff on the night. He has also stated he wants contests with the likes of Canelo Alvarez, but has done little to position himself in a way that garners him anything close to a fight with the biggest boxer on the planet.
Most recently, he has declared that old-rival Saunders is the "b-side" of any potential return bout and, until Billy Joe understands that, a rematch can't be made. Mind you, Saunders has only lost once to the aforementioned Alvarez, while Eubank has done little to raise his own profile in the interim. And he lost their initial encounter.
Again, these are not really the comments of a fighter looking to truly make the biggest fights happen. And until he is in those fights, we don't truly know what we have with the Englishman.
To some degree, time is still on his side -- but just barely. At 31-years-old, it's beginning to be about that time where Eubank either puts up or shuts up. While mapping out what his future should look like is a bit pointless, it probably needs to include guys like Saunders and Jaime Munguia. Eventually, a fight with titlist Demetrius Andrade is a reasonable goal. These are at least fights that give him meaningful direction.
Perhaps this partnership with Sky Sports is what is needed and they've already begun mapping out a plan that puts him in those big fights consistently. A plan that might be a tad more sensible than the one Eubank and his father have seemed to string together in recent years. However, until he's facing serious challenges on a consistent basis, we'll never know exactly what we have with the son of a legend.
Hope you enjoyed the read. Lemme know your thoughts in the comments below, appreciate any and all. Also, you can check out my prediction for Eubank-Muratov as well as David Avanesyan-Liam Taylor by clicking here
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