By Leon Smith
Following the first interview with this 90s boxing legend, a secluded Chris Eubank Sr gives readers great thoughts regarding his time as a homeless high-end shoplifter in South London as a juvenile delinquent, his horrifying time in The Bronx as a teen, his thoughts on boxing technique/training, Teddy Atlas, Mickey Duff, Barry Hearn, Eddie Hearn, Frank Warren, Naz, Roy Jones and much more!
Eubank On Sparring Stories
See, in New York, most of the best gym fighters weren’t the best competitive fighters.
Under the bright lights, in front of the cameras and the audience, some guys thrive and overperform, while others don’t contend with the pressure and underperform.
But in the gym, it can be flipped. My toughest spars in New York were against Golden Gloves semi finalists who froze at the Garden, like Robert Burton, yet did anything but in the ring with me in a rundown Bronx gym for instance. Or guys who lost on their pro debut and stopped.
The champions I sparred, like Ray Rivera, and the pros in the world top 20 or even top 10, like Richard Burton and Carlos Santos, or this Milton Guest, I got the better of!
When I came to England in 1988, I looked at the British top 10 and tried to spar them all.
Rod Douglas, Errol Christie, Johnny Melfah, Carlton Warren, Keith Bristol and Tony Collins I traveled to London for from Brighton, dodging the train fares each time, to have gym fights with at Thomas A Becket for a number of months from July 1988.
I made sure I won all these spars and imposed my strength. Then Herol Graham in Sheffield I knocked out for 60 seconds in the first 60 seconds of his first round with me.
Winston Walters, or Kid Milo, I forced in with me on my first day at the Matchroom Gym. I had to show them all who was boss in case I ever fought them. Slugger O’Toole and so on.
On Sparring The Best
The gym fights I had with Errol Christie and Rod Douglas were as good as any world title fight you’ll see. The late Dean Powell confirmed this in Boxing Monthly.
Errol Christie told me only Thomas Hearns at his peak, other than myself, was able to exchange combinations with him in ring centre in the gym.
Herol Graham was a different matter because he never stayed ring centre unless he was leaning away and turning me.
I used those four to six round fights with Herol, the grandmaster, to work on just slipping punches coming forward, because I couldn’t hit him.
I was a 13-fight novice at the time and Herol was world number-one (and) about to go in with the great Mike McCallum for the world title and make him look silly for six rounds.
On Martial Arts/Teddy Atlas
In terms of the martial arts, I will say this: Boxing is in actual fact the highest form of martial art there is, reason being (is) you need to learn how to absorb punishment first before you can initiate it.
Let me explain: Boxing is the only martial art where your first lesson is full contact. Now, in 1983, when I was 17, I was having 12 to 15 round gym fights before I had even learned how to punch correctly.
It took me two years to learn how to throw the right hand. In my first amateur fight in 1983, Teddy Atlas claimed his fighter was the same size and experience level as me, of which was a lie.
I lost to this bigger kid, who knew how to punch correctly, in the first 30 seconds on my debut, after vaulting the top rope on the spur of the moment.
What my handler Adonis Torres noticed was all the attention of the audience and judging panel on me when I jumped the ropes, and encouraged me to do it every time.
Teddy Atlas had no integrity, so I don’t take anything he says regarding disparaging Mike Tyson with more than a grain of salt. If you watch his London Real interview with Brian Rose on YouTube, he can’t even make eye contact.
Now, back to the martial arts. What I actually extracted from forms of martial arts other than boxing was bits and pieces regarding floor exercises, foot movement and flexibility work, to help with breathing and being evasive.
On Boxing Techniques
Boxing is not rocket science. It’s persistence. It’s only endurance.
There are six punches – two from straight, two from sides, two from under. There are three ways to defend the jab – catch, slip or duck. If you slip right, you counter with a right uppercut. If you slip left, you counter with a left uppercut. Either to the chin or body.
You circle clockwise or anti clockwise. You cut off the corners if being circled. You close the distance without crossing feet. That’s footwork.
You practice punching with shadow boxing and bag and pad work, but you mostly practice by sparring, because a bag doesn’t hit back, does it? If you’re being hit with left hooks, you bring your hand up. You learn in sparring.
It’s not a case of studying textbooks and writing essays or running treadmills and lifting weights. It’s a case of full contact sparring – the more the better!
On His 1987 Year
Bob Arum wasn’t interested in me. In my fifth professional fight, it was to try to impress him and get signed by him. But my opponent was a southpaw, which I wasn’t expecting, and he said he’ll pass when I told him I could be a world champion.
Three and a half years later, I beat Arum’s fighter Nigel Benn for the world title. He then offered me a fight with Thomas Hearns and I replied that I wasn’t fit enough to tie his shoe laces.
I had spent a year out from 1986 to 1987 to focus on my studies, before receiving a piece of advice to put all my eggs into one basket or risk being mediocre at both. I’d always had an extreme personality so chose boxing.
However, after my fifth fight, my manager Adonis Torres and my new trainer Lenny DeJesus were tied up for two months with a fight camp for Dennis Cruz fighting on the other end of the United States in a big fight.
Then Adonis sadly got very poorly with cancer and my career was put on hold. He passed in October 1987. That’s when I moved to England.
On Eddie Hearn/Prince Naseem Hamed
Always trust and give. There were two young men I took under my wing when they were 15 – Naseem Hamed and Eddie Hearn. I bought them leather jackets, (and) those brick-style mobile phones to call me for advise, (and) took them for rides in my expensive cars, (and) had them at my wedding and so on and so forth.
Nothing but kindness, nothing but giving. And even these guys threw me under the bus! Just like the rest. And it’s a wonderful thing, because you can look yourself in the mirror and know you have goodness.
On Being Champion
I used to watch future challengers to my title back when I was still a nobody, a kid with nothing. Ron Essett, Tony Thornton and Lindell Holmes I used to watch on network television in the US.
Then Nigel Benn and Gary Stretch I used to watch on ITV to a lot of hype, you know?
To end up at Old Trafford in front of 45,000 with Don King and Showtime, having started in England six years before with no money, no manager, no promoter, no trainer and not one fan.
Just 45 people watching me against Darren Parker in this country hotel somewhere in Sussex in February 1988, no TV crews. I built it all up from scratch to reach the pinnacle.
And when you are world champion, people will raise their performance by 15% against you. But when you are Chris Eubank, with the biggest platform in world boxing, their performance will raise by 25% because they will take that position if they knock you off.
So I fought Ray Close plus 25%. Henry Wharton plus 25%. Tony Thornton plus 25%. Lindell Holmes plus 25%. Steve Collins plus 25%.
On His Youth
I’m a street boy, a rude boy. I smoked an ounce of marijuana a day from the day Bob Marley died until the day I flew to New York to live.
Marley’s words inspired me to escape borstals and abscond and use a Robin Hood type philosophy in that I would take from Oxford Street and give to the public at Peckham Market at 25% of the price.
I rented my own market stool at 14 years old and just said I was 18. I paid cash in hand rent to sleep on friends sofas because I had no ID for hotels or a flat. They were mostly middle aged Jamaicans in Peckham.
The South Bronx was a place of nightmares, so I couldn’t risk negotiating with the drug dealers and law breakers over there because they’re all carrying guns. I was a 16 year old Limey.
Even those selling marijuana or receiving stolen goods, there’s guns. If you say a wrong word or look at someone the wrong way, even accidentally, you’re shot dead.
It was this terrifying burnt-out neighbourhood, from all the arson there in the 70s. The lowest of low went there. The crime rate was through the roof where I was, near Fort Apache, and the vast majority of crimes weren’t even reported.
You would lay awake at night shivering and hear gun shots and not always hear sirens following. So boxing, you know, I was hardened to it – sparring seven days a week at full contact against the toughest young men in the world, I had no choice but to get very, very good!
I was a good boy, I went to school and church and the gym and stayed away from substances. The students at school were 85% Hispanic. At church, it was 75% over the age of 50.
The only thing in the world more petrifying than South Bronx was in the early 80s, was Nigel Benn!
On 2nd Watson Fight
My toughest fights were, obviously, the Watson II fight, for one, and the Benn I fight, the Greg George fight, the Scommer fight and the Thompson I fight.
Watson II speaks for itself. He fought me at the pace of a lightweight from the first bell and wouldn’t tire, was too physically strong for me inside, and in round four, round five and during round six was out-thinking and out-maneuvering me.
We drew rounds one, two and three. Then he cut me in the fourth, and was bobbing and weaving into range at angles, throwing five- and six- punch combinations behind his jab and mauling me inside with six-inch overhand rights.
I gave up in the sixth because I knew I couldn’t win. He was walking through huge punches and I couldn’t keep up a lightweight pace, so what could I do with him? Nothing. I just had to stay in there and take my beating.
All I had left was unbreakable honesty. That’s why I won.
On Tough Bouts And Tough Business
After the Benn fight in 1990, there was traces of blood in my urine and stools for weeks due to the internal damage that Mr Benn inflicted. My tongue was gashed right open. I couldn’t open a jar or tie my laces for a week.
Greg George fight? I was 11st, I had met Mickey Duff in June 1987 at a seafood restaurant in South London and he told me he wouldn’t be a sugar daddy and that I would have to get a job! He went to the little boys room, as he called it, and when he came back I was gone!
Duff cheated me, much like Teddy Atlas did, in telling Ronnie Davies that he had a middleweight with three fights who hadn’t fought for three years and needed an opponent at Wembley that night, knowing I needed money after splitting with Keith Miles.
When I got in the ring, he looked like a huge light-heavyweight. And now there was no pulling out. Duff tried bumping me off. But I got off the deck from a push and stopped him.
Similarly, Frank Maloney tried bumping me off by giving me the Anthony Logan fight for just a week after my fight with rough tough Simon Collins. He knew I couldn’t let an opportunity like that pass. I still won.
Mike Barrett was the one who offered me everything after watching the fight with Steve Aquilina in Portsmouth. An apartment, a signing-on bonus, a regular wage and so on.
Mr Barrett said I was the best he’d ever seen in this country, but I was a man of principle and he had a fortnight to arrange all the paperwork, and he didn’t meet the deadline.
Back to Maloney and back to principle, he had promised me £100 on top if the Logan fight was shown on ITV. Benn went short so ITV showed my fight, and he didn’t pay up. When he offered me good money for fights with Montell Griffin and Crawford Ashley in 95, 96, 97, I told him no because he still owed me that £100.
But back to the tough fights, I mean, Dan Schommer in South Africa. It was 6,000ft above sea level, the air was so thin and Schommer hit me extremely hard. Really painful because I had no Adrenalin due to him looking like he flipped pizzas for a living. He knocked my tooth out and I only won because of my aggression.
Carl Thompson fight – not as tough as the others. It was just a black eye. But it was painful when he hit it once it had swollen.
I probably should’ve went with Barrett, but I was 21 and thought I knew it all. Barry Hearn had it all backwards really, in that you go right for the biggest one first – Benn – and then you work backwards from there.
So you get the world title and then you fight North American champions, South American champions, South African champions, Commonwealth champions, European champions, British champions…
Barrett, the old school, would’ve had me do it the other way round. And what Barry did was keep me away from the United States market, effectively halving my earnings. I don’t think the USA market wanted to know the WBO title, but they’d of wanted to know the WBC for instance.
The same belt that Thomas Hearns, Mike Tyson and Pernell Whitaker held, the one that Duran held at middle and Dennis Andries at light-heavy.
Barry also took money from me in our business dealings. It’s why we split in 95. I use my experiences to protect Christopher.
Frank Warren? Kept me going back and forth from Brighton to London for a fortnight, dodging train fares each time, and somehow we kept missing each other at his office. Frank wanted to show me who was boss. But the fighter is the boss, so I didn’t choose him to work for me in 88.
Barney Eastwood was another just like the rest who kept me waiting. He was impressed with me knocking out Herol in sparring, but I chose Barry Hearn when Mr Eastwood failed to get me on the McCallum-Graham card.
I made £25M gross from the art form, when the average wage was four times less than today.
ITV signed me for £1M a year for four years, SKY signed me for £1.25M a fight for eight fights, Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror sponsored me for four years for tabloid sales and Matchroom paid me five times a year for ticket sales, Russell Athletic and Acclaim Entertainment I endorsed for millions, and Frank paid me about £4M in six fights.
But fighters today sweep that in one nights work on pay per view with site fees from casino venues, without needing the charisma I had and without a tough fight of any kind.
On Recent Eubank Jr/Jones Jr Teaming
Christopher is a maverick. He won’t listen to anyone, so he definitely won’t listen to his dad. But the one man he might listen to is Roy Jones, because that was always his favorite fighter, his fighting hero.
So if he listens to anyone, he’s going to listen to Roy. And Roy has seen the lot, like me. He grew up in the game, he sparred with Sugar Ray Leonard and Ron Essett before he even turned pro. He sparred with world champion Lindell Holmes when he was still a novice professional somewhat.
His own father fought Marvin Hagler. He himself beat everyone pretty much, did everything, saw everyone and everything. So I’m very optimistic.