Chris Eubank Snr, veteran of 24 world title fights and 19 12-rounders, talks YouTube(rs), East vs West and fights that didn’t materialise with US counterparts.
What do you make of the state of the sport today?
It’s healthier than it’s ever been. Far more money, far more platforms across far more devices and applications. The entry of Jake and Logan Paul is the best thing to happen to boxing in many a year.
Do you believe there’s been an Eastern block takeover?
I think there’s been a Great British takeover of sorts in the last 5 or 10 years. We aren’t just a known territory here, we are the founders of boxing. We are the home of boxing. When I was champion for 5 years straight, there was only one other belt holder at any one time – two at most.
Is boxing suffering in America though?
In Vegas it’s thriving. In New York City it’s nothing like when I was there for most of the 80s. It was the Vegas of the 80s when I was there and then some and then some more. A burning bed where only the strong survived, a literal process of weeding out the weak. I saw so many come and go. I remained throughout.
I wasn’t very good, I just had the prerequisites of Sunday and Wednesday schools. I had a God-fearing mother, that’s why I am who I am. That’s why the great Michael Watson is who he is – we had God-fearing mothers. God, God, God…. God.
Will we see more Eastern and less Western world champions in the coming years?
Only by law of averages. They aren’t as skilled in the East. For instance in post-Soviet gyms they aren’t taught to bend their knees. Walk in any US gym and they’re taught to bend their knees. If you look at the ready position across all sports then there is a bend in the knee.
Triple G and Kovalev use unorthodox footwork, not a bad thing. They use that switch stance originated by Bob Fitzsimmons I believe, perhaps the greatest British fighter of all time. After I began mastering all the basics of boxing, I widened my stance to place most of my weight on the rear leg. If you watch the fighter Guillermo Rigondeaux, he comes unstuck against Vasyl Lomachenko because his legs were too far apart to pivot from that spot.
I could’ve trained Rigondeaux to beat Lomachenko, if he did what I did which was to move the front foot first to skip out of distance. I wasn’t as good as Rigondeaux is, but I was clever. I utilised particular stances and escapism from martial arts. Had I not done so, I may of only reached British title challenger standard.
Had Nigel Benn been trained to use proper technique, I may not have stood a prayer. He bent at the waist when weaving for instance – incorrect, you are to bend at the knees. In our second fight, it’s a strange one because he won some of those early rounds with me being in control. The silkiness in the way I moved from point to point probably suggested to viewers in the first half-dozen rounds that I was just too well-equipped for Benn. But he got a draw that could’ve been a win.
I was back to boxing the way I was in New York under Maximo Pierret again – you can see an early paid contest of mine called Eubank vs Cannida on YouTube. Benn was far more gifted than me though.
Had you beat Benn again, could you of tried uniting all the belts?
Around that time I was believing I was now ready for the Michael Nunns and James Toneys of this world. But Maximo Pierret told me not to fight Nunn. He swore I’d beat James Toney with my movement, but we couldn’t get that done politically.
I doubt I’d of beaten either Nunn or Toney if they came in at their very best. But if they had one of their many off-nights then the fight was mine. They may not have mastered movement and motion like me, or four to six inch punching with jaw uncovered for the slightest moments, but they were just too good – as in too fluid – and never tired.
Nunn didn’t have to punch from the feet and Toney didn’t have to move his feet. I had to do both.
What’s the biggest shock you’ve seen in boxing since your retirement?
Joe Calzaghe retiring. He got a taste of the big money against the big names so why not carry it on and fight more of those big names for more of that big money? The mental strength it took for Joe to hang them up at that point was unbelievable.
Favourite fighter today?
Saul. He’s the only one fighting every few months today. TV demanded me to fight 5 times a year for 5 years. I had to sell-out in London then Glasgow then Belfast then Manchester then Glasgow and then London again, Manchester again and then Dublin or Cardiff, and then back to Birmingham or abroad. It didn’t stop.
Sugar Ray Robinson was twice as frequent as that. These fighters today have nothing to complain about yet they still do.
Any hidden gems of advise for aspiring fighters?
Be a general practitioner. And don’t telegraph punches. If you show you’re hurt, your opponent will throw that shot again. Or it will spur him on. If you show you’re hurt, the judges will score it as an effective punch – whereas if you remain poker-faced at the point of impact and beyond, a judge may not register it as an effective punch.
This only comes with practice. So spar – the more the better.