Eubank Jr: Carrying on tradition
On Saturday night at the unassuming Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham a young fighter will make his way to the ring to a familiar tune. His strut will remind you of a legend from an era gone. He will scale the ropes in a fashion you’ve seen before. And go about his business in a manor you thought had been confined to the DVD box sets. But you’ll know his name.
Blessed with the same physique, quick feet and fast hands as his legendary father, Chris Eubank Jr is the apple that didn’t fall too far from the tree. And luckily for nostalgic boxing fans he’s in the family business now as well. Although don’t expect to see him in jodhpurs and a monocle just yet.
Days away from his second professional outing we sat down with the highly-regarded youngster to talk about learning his trade in America, sparring the likes of David Haye and Nathan Cleverly, and who his favourite junior in boxing is…
Chris, your dad was adamant throughout his career that he didn’t want any of his kids to become boxers. How much convincing did it take for him to let you do it?
At first he was against the idea because he knew how tough the life of a boxer is, and how hard he had to work to get to where he got in his own career. So obviously he didn’t want that same hardship for his son. I played a lot of sports as a kid and after I decided at 15 that I wanted to take boxing seriously, he saw how committed I was and how much I was progressing, and that’s when he started coming round to the idea of me becoming a fighter.
Like your dad, you learnt your trade out in America – how important was it to do that?
I was in America for about three and a half years in total on and off. I first started training with former middleweight champion Mike McCallum and learnt a lot from him. Then I trained with Floyd Mayweather Sr, it was a completely different style of training but again I learnt a lot. The experiences I had out there made me the fighter I am today, without a doubt. It was definitely one of the best decisions me and my family made to send me out there to learn my trade.
I was in Las Vegas and all the big fighters would come out before their fights to finish training and get used to the climate so it was great to be around all of that from day one. I’d go to Floyd Mayweather’s gym and watch him train; I sparred with guys like Zab Judah, Montell Griffin and Chad Dawson. That type of sparring is priceless, it taught me so much. Those types of experiences are very rare for a kid of my age, I was only 18-19 when I was in with these guys, and to be in there and to stay with them was a huge confidence boost.
Did the Eubank name carry over there or did they not care at all?
Out there they knew the name but they didn’t know the face, I blended into the crowd and that’s exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want any added pressure, or people expecting me to do things that I wasn’t able to do because I hadn’t been boxing for that long. And that’s what would have happened if I stayed in England. In fact that’s what happened in my first day boxing here, they put me in with a guy who had 17-18 amateur fights and was three years older than me, and he battered me for three rounds. They did that cos of my name. ‘Oh he’s Chris Eubank’s son he must know what he’s doing.’ But over in the US I could just lose myself in the gyms and have the same opportunities that any other guy gets to learn his trade.
In terms of sparring you seem to have continued in the same vein here in England…
While I’m based here in England I’m looking for the best sparring I can possibly get and I’ve sparred with George Groves, Nathan Cleverly and David Haye. These our guys that are at the top of their game in England so I can’t ask for better sparring. You learn a lot from fighting these kinds of guys, they’re doing things that other fighters in the UK aren’t doing yet so you learn quicker and it ups your game.
Do they try to put extra arse whooping on you cos your Chris Eubank’s son?
I’m gonna say it straight none of them have given me an arse whooping! Obviously if David Haye wanted to he could have taken me out, but he didn’t take any liberties. He’s a heavyweight but he worked with me – his reaction times and speed for his size is amazing. He’s got the speed of a middleweight. I have very good sparring sessions with the other two, Groves and Cleverly. It’s hard and competitive but like I said I’m learning a lot.
A lot of fighters turn pro and have a schedule for when they want to become a world champion – what’s yours?
With me I take every fight as it comes, I’m never going to look past a fighter. For me to say I want to be a world champion in three years, life doesn’t work that way. It’ll be great and definitely something that I’ll be aiming for but I’m never going to go out there and say that cos you never know how things are going to pan out. So world champion is definitely the goal, but as far as how long it’s going to take and when, I can’t say.
Your first fight has already gone out to a bigger audience than a lot of seasoned pros. Would you like to remain on terrestrial TV throughout your career?
I can’t tell the future, as of right now I’m fighting on Channel 5 and I will continue to fight on Channel 5. If at some point in my career I switch to a different channel or switch to Sky, who knows. But for right now Channel 5 is definitely the best place for me to be – terrestrial TV means millions of people watching and you get the fans behind you. It’s not about the money right now; it’s about me being able to show Britain what I can do.
Does the Eubank family get Christmas cards from Tina Turner with the amount of royalties you must have given her for using Simply The Best?
Haha. You’d have to ask my father if he does. That song is a great song! My father used it a lot in his career and I think that me using it in my career just pays homage to his legacy. And the feedback I got from the fans is that they like it.
Who is your favourite other junior in boxing – Floyd Mayweather Jr, Roy Jones Jr, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr?
It would definitely be Roy Jones Jr cos he was in my weight division and the stuff he did you’ve got to admire the guy. The way he fought, I’ve never seen anything like it before or since so I’ve got to say him. He came down to my gym in Brighton once but I was out in the States at that time so I never got to meet him.
See Chris Eubank Jr take on Jason Ball on Saturday, February 18, from 9.55pm live on Channel 5