For Chris Eubank Jr, Saturday’s clash with British rival George Groves is merely a step on his path to greatness – a path he has planned meticulously and with a razor sharp determination to be the best in the world. When the two step into the ring on Saturday night in Manchester, both Eubank Jr’s IBO strap and Groves’ WBA title will be on the line in a highly anticipated grudge match, which is also the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament – the winner facing either fellow-Brit Callum Smith or Germany’s Juergen Braehmer in the final later in the year.
While he’s not looking past George Groves, Eubank Jr sees nothing other than a win coming his way, but is not taking any chances. “If I knock him out in the first second of the first round it’s still not an easy night, because of all the punishment and sacrifice I’ve had to go through to get to this stage, so no I don’t expect it to be an easy night,” he told Sport360°. “I do expect to be completely dominant in the fight and to get the victory. I know myself what George is capable of and I don’t think there’s anyway he will be able to survive twelve rounds with me.”
Rivals: WBA champ George Groves and IBO king Chris Eubank Jr
Under the watchful eye of his illustrious father, Chris Eubank Snr, Eubank insists his dedication to the sport can only see him reach the top of the game. It is his belief that nobody in his division is working harder than him with traditional pre-fight camp schedules thrown out of the window as the Brit does things his way.
“I prefer to just live the life of a champion, I train everyday in some way shape, or form, I don’t wait to be given a fight date to prepare,” says the IBO king. “Whether it’s mentally or physically, I do some form of exercise everyday. I’ve been training intensely since the age of fourteen. When you live the life of a champ things can get stale so it’s good to switch things around. “I break things up by doing morning or evening runs, some yoga or a strength and conditioning class. I change things in the evenings by running on the beach or hill sprints. It’s my decision what I do, I plan out a week in advance but if a body part is feeling fatigued then obviously I’ll work something else.”
At 28, the Brighton-born boxer is at the stage in his career where a marquee name on his record is needed to get him the mega fights he says he’s destined for. Despite Eubank’s IBO title is the lesser-recognised of the world titles and was won against Australia’s Renold Quinlan, leaving most needing convincing Eubank Jr should be considered in the elite bracket of fighters.
Since a loss to rival Billy Joe Saunders in 2014, Jr has remained unbeaten, winning his last eight fights – including a convincing win over seasoned veteran Arthur Abraham. His overall record now stands at 26-1. In his head, Eubank had his route to the top already mapped out, with plans of defeating fellow Brit James DeGale for the IBF super middleweight belt following the tournament. However, DeGale’s surprising defeat to the un-fancied Caleb Truax in December soon put paid to that idea. Nevertheless the slanging match between the two continues via social media, as well as during our chat with the IBO champion. “DeGale is an embarrassment” Eubank Jr affirms. “That last fight was a let down to British boxing, especially after all the trash talk leading up to the fight. To then go and perform like he did is unforgivable. Now he’s got no belt so I’m already ahead of him. I’m the champion and he’s nothing, an average fighter beat him. He was number one on my radar after this tournament because he had the belt and the public wanted to see that fight, but now he’s screwed it all up with that performance.”
Shock defeat: James DeGale no longer holds a title
Despite the simmering rivalry, Eubank Jr maintains he didn’t enjoy seeing the Olympic gold medallist lose. “What DeGale needs to do now is get back in the ring with that same guy and try and win his belt back and we can talk about a potential match up. You can’t go from a loss like that and demand a big fight, so he’s got to rebuild. I don’t like DeGale but I wanted him to win because I wanted to beat him and win that belt. But he’s ruined it now. If he can get his belt back then the fight will be of interest again.” Whatever the outcome against Groves, Eubank Jr will be in no mood to rest on his laurels. Rather than find an excuse to celebrate, he chooses to knuckle down and focus on the next fight rather than toast a win. That has been his way since his teens, with boxing being his sole focus – and success being the only thing he measures himself by.
This is difficult when you have a father who climbed to the peak of the Super Middleweight mountain, becoming a household name in the glory days of the division on the British boxing scene. While Eubank Snr never made the transition across the Atlantic, comparisons between him and Jr are always going to be made.
At this stage in this career though, regardless of rankings and titles, if Eubank Jr is to eclipse his father’s achievements, he has to start becoming a household name in his own right, and the only way to do that is beat the big names in his division. The next step on that journey is on Saturday night – and he can’t afford to stumble.