Chris Eubank Jr. has put all his chips on the table.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that a second defeat in a row to Liam Smith, especially a second defeat in a row by knockout, would ruin his career.
By taking this rematch, he was making the biggest gamble of his career. He was betting on everything. He was betting big and betting on himself.
As he stood in the middle of the ring at Manchester’s AO Arena, shadowboxing sharply under the lights as Smith made his long entrance to the raucous delight of the packed house, he knew it all.
“It’s a huge gamble. A gamble I didn’t need to take. I didn’t need to risk losing these big fights against these big names that were all lined up in my favor, which is what would have happened if I lost.” Again,” he said Sky Sports.
“I didn’t need to risk it. I could take the loss and move on like a lot of fighters do. They don’t want to go back out there with the guy who beat them. Especially not in the same arena with the same 21,000 people booing you, throwing things at you and wanting Eliminate you.
“It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t something I had to do. I could have been fighting bigger financial battles in more comfortable environments. I chose not to do that. I chose to take the hard path. “I chose to test myself. I chose to prove myself. We don’t run away. We do not run away from these challenges. We do not hide from anyone. We don’t back down.”
Although Eubank’s composure may appear solid, there were doubts about the difficult months that followed his loss to Smith in January.
“There were demons I was fighting,” he said. “That’s what happens when you come off a defeat. Especially a defeat where you get shut down. You have to deal with a lot of things mentally and a lot of questions are asked. Does he still have it? Does he still want it? Can he still perform at the highest level?” levels?
“I knew I could, but obviously when a lot of people think you can’t, you don’t think you have it anymore, there were points where you could second-guess: ‘Maybe some of these people are right, and maybe I get it.’” A little old’.
“You have to control yourself. You can’t let yourself slide down the slope of doubt and anxiety and fear. You have to be strong, you have to be sure, you have to be firm in your beliefs. You have to maintain them. Together.”
The fiercely hostile public reception in Manchester could have fueled those doubts. Instead, Eubank lived up to it.
Before he jumped, as he always did, over the top rope to land on the canvas after his entrance, he stood on the ring apron and welcomed the boos. He put his hand on one ear and then the other. The hatred was real. But that was the fighter inside him.
He added: “It is impossible, insurmountable, and unimaginable that we would have to go through this. Very few fighters have to deal with this kind of pressure, this kind of hostility.”
“I’ve had to go through my whole career and that’s what shaped me and molded me into who I am now. He’s a tough veteran of this sport who doesn’t bend under pressure, doesn’t bend when the going gets tough, and doesn’t look for a way out when I get hurt. I’m fighting. I fight through it.”
He did that too. Eubank dropped Smith twice and eventually earned a stoppage of his own in the 10th round of their rematch. As a victory, he said, it was “one of the sweetest, one of the most important, and one of the most pivotal” victories he had achieved.
“This fight here has really put me at a crossroads, and depending on the outcome it will have a huge impact on my career,” Eubank said. “More than any other battle.”
When the referee waved the match off, absolving Smith of further punishment, Eubank backed down.
Before his promoter, or his new coach, could get to him to celebrate, he stood alone in the middle of the ring, staring past the lights above him. It was a perfect moment of isolation. He can just take it all in.
“I was the underdog. I was the guy who wasn’t supposed to win, I was at the end of his career and was about to get eliminated again. This was me. To come out of that situation, to be booed” in an arena of 21,000 people, then chanted, “This A difficult thing to do. “It’s a difficult thing to do, but we did it.”
Maybe he was betting too big on himself. Now he’s won a lot too. If taking part in the rematch had left Eubank out of the way, the shift opened up his future to a wealth of new options: “That was the gamble and the risk paid off.
“Yes, I couldn’t make the fight. Yes, I could get a bigger payday somewhere else in a more comfortable environment in a crowd that wouldn’t hate me. But that doesn’t put me in a great position. These fighters can and then I might say they’re the A-side and I’m out of Loss, so I must dance to their tune and meet their demands.
“I didn’t want to get into these fights in this situation. I wanted to be in control. I wanted to have the power and the position, and the only way was to avenge the loss and make sure there was no doubt that I was the better fighter in this bout.”
As for his next move, Connor Benn was one of the names that was quickly suggested to him. Eubank Junior was due to marry Box Benn, the son of his father’s great rival Nigel Benn, last year. That match was canceled when the results of Connor Penn’s failed drug tests came back.
It’s still possible that it will happen eventually but not necessarily next time. The date, location and weight are still to be determined, and Eubank notes that any agreement now must be on its terms.
“Absolutely,” he said. “He lost all his privileges when he failed drug tests a year ago. I’m team A. I’m the one calling the shots in that fight.” “It will happen. The fight will happen. I can’t tell you when it will happen. He still has a lot of issues to solve and I have a lot of options to evaluate.”
The British Boxing Board of Control and UK Anti-Doping are currently appealing the National Anti-Doping Committee’s decision to lift Ben’s interim suspension.
Eubank continued: “This fight doesn’t need to be rushed anyway, in my opinion. Connor Benn isn’t going anywhere. The timing has to be right and he has to be fully exonerated from the situation he’s in. He can.” He doesn’t have any appeals going on. With the council. “He can’t have any drug agency put him on the banned list or whatever the case may be.”
“It has to be 100 percent clear for this fight to go forward. As far as I’m concerned at this moment it’s not. That’s why I can’t say when that fight will happen. But it will happen. It happens.”
Opportunities to fight for world titles should come to Eubank as well. At middle weight there will be options. Jermall Charlo has been inactive but holds the WBC Championship. Janibek Alimkhanuli will compete with Vincenzo Gualtieri for the WBO and IBF belts on October 14.
“The names you just mentioned, I’ve really never seen these guys fight before. I don’t know who they are. And I’m in the game. So the general public won’t know who these guys are, I mean, it’s hard for them to listen if you’re making it an event,” Eubank said. “Pay-per-view, which is what a world title should be.”
“So you have to be smart. You have to take a fight the right way and you have to do it in the right place at the right time. That’s up to the promoters. That’s their job.” To fit it all together, it’s my job to fight.
“I want to fight for a world title 100 percent. But the politics that come with all that, it’s not easy to deal with sometimes. I’m lucky that I’m in a position where I don’t have to be in the world.” Title fights should be part of the mega fights. Most players need belts to participate in big battles. This is what makes them box office hits, or what makes them worth watching.
“I don’t need a belt to captivate an audience. I do it with the way I fight. I do it with the way I talk, I do it with who I am as a man and as a fighter. Now, if we can have both.” At the same time, this is the dream.
“A big name and a world title together, it’s very difficult to achieve success. But I will try everything I can to do it. We just have to take the time and plan the best way.”
“I’m the real one”
There was another lasting image in the aftermath of the fight.
Almost immediately, Eubank Jr. flew to Dubai to join his family. He was reunited with his infant nephew, the son of his brother Sebastian who tragically passed away in 2021.
Previously, Eubank Jr. may not have been willing to show this tender side of his personality in public.
“With everything that’s happened over the last few years, it’s become a big part of my life. I couldn’t hide from it if I wanted to. And I think it’s good for people to see the real me, if you want to call it that.”
“It’s not that I’m not real when I’m with the crowd or in the ring because I definitely am. But there are sides to me. And to everyone. And you might not think that someone acts a certain way behind closed doors or when they’re ‘not in a fighting mood.’
“A lot of times, fighters aren’t seen as human beings, and we are. We go through the same things that other people go through. We deal with the same issues in life. We have families, we have ups and downs in life. And that’s a big part of my life now, raising my nephew.” .
“Giving him that male figure in his life that he obviously doesn’t have, and making sure that she’s there for him. I think it’s important to have a father figure in any boy’s life, especially a boy who has Eubank’s blood running through his veins.” “.
Liam Smith, along with three championship brothers, like Eubank comes from a great British boxing lineage. You’d think he and Eubank would agree that more important than the fights inside the ropes is the family outside of it. Eubank Jr.’s emotions remain in check, as they did even in his moment of victory. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
This win for Smith was the lasting achievement of his career thus far.
“No matter how much people tried to pressure you, no matter how much people tried to convince you and others that you would lose, that you didn’t deserve to be where you were, that you were fake, all these things I had been watching online for half a year – I had to fight these demons.
“That’s what I did and I proved all those haters and all those naysayers and all those doubters wrong. I think that’s what makes this victory so satisfying. I’m a fighter. That’s what I do.”