By Jamie Casimir
During the build up to his fight with George Groves, Saturday 17 February, Chris Eubank Jr made several comments that came true. He was emphatic that it would not be a fifty-fifty. And he declared that the public would see who was the real deal. Unfortunately for him, both were not in his favour.
Groves comprehensively out-boxed and, at times, humiliated him. Pin point jab, strong right hand, superior movement. A composed Groves displayed all round superior boxing attributes against a crude, wild and desperate Eubank.
It’s shocking, then, how boxing pundits, including many experiences pros and trainers, and the bookies, usually reliable in taking our cash, could get it so wrong by backing Eubank. Surely a confident press conference demeanour against a backdrop of flashy social media videos isn’t enough to relieve us of our senses?
But it was. The half truths continued. Eubank Senior said that he had ‘built his son too well’. In fact, he had built the brand too well, and we bought it, defying all logic.
No amateur experience, but Eubank trained in Vegas. No trainer, but he has mythical fighting instincts and genetics. No power, but his speed will overwhelm any opponent. No world class experience, but he will win the World Boxing Super Series, unify the division and become the sport’s next superstar. He may even drop down to middleweight and do it all again next year.
How ridiculous that all now seems as we replay the drunk wayward swings last night. We’ve seen more composure, genuinely, in Glaswegian bar brawls. The Eubanks have always teetered between delusion and genius, but the former now seems more accurate in 2018.
There were further half truths in the run up to the match, fought in front of a sold out crowd at Manchester arena. Groves was apparently shot, a shadow of his former self, not the same fighter since being almost snapped in half by Carl Froch at Wembley.
In some ways that is correct, but not in negative terms. Groves is now a seasoned world class operator. He’s less cocky and reckless as he once was. And – perhaps now being a family man, and also going through the sobering experience of significantly damaging an opponent – he is far more considered in his boxing. Groves is not the same man. He has matured into an insightful, powerful fighter and should be appreciated.
It was Groves, after all the hype, who was correct. This would not be the biggest fight of his career, it would be a straight forward defence of his title. This would be a legacy enhancing, but not defining, match. He would win comfortably and move onto the final.
Eubank desperately needs reflection and guidance if he is to return to world level. But the truth may be that he simply is not good enough.