It’s not easy, I know. What with the grandstanding and the arrogance and the claim to be stepping out of his father’s shadow before entering the ring in the exact same manner as his father did a quarter of a century before. It’s not easy to feel sorry for him. But please, if only for a second, spare a thought for Chris Eubank Jr.
Most people who consider themselves something above a boxing ‘casual’ were quite forthright in their view, before Saturday night’s showdown with George Groves, that junior just didn’t have the talent, the boxing skills or the experience in the bank needed to win the fight. His lack of proper coaching was also a factor.
And so it was that those things were to be the undoing of him in the ring. Groves was smarter, more skilled and was executing a sound game plan. Strangely, an opportunity to throw 96 punches in eleven seconds never came up for Eubank. He might have taken the round had there been.
Alas, there were few rounds that Eubank won clearly, if any.
Prior to the fight though, the odds for both men were similar, with Eubank actually the favourite with some bookmakers. A fight, and fighter, sold to the general public by junior’s bravado and his father Chris Eubank Senior’s legendary salesmanship.
Before the fight, his father, no stranger to hyperbole, questioned whether he had ‘built him too well’, suggesting that Eubank might not have any adversaries of an equal level, that he was some kind of machine, like a modern day Ivan Drago.
Within an hour of that statement, his son was flailing wildly trying to land something, anything on his more skilled opponent.
After losing the fight on all three judges’ scorecards – though too close than deserved on a couple – junior gave a humble, intelligent, thoughtful interview. With no Eubank Senior in earshot orchestrating things, we got to see the real Eubank Jr. And this is why we should feel a little sorry for him.
His boxing career has been played out in the public eye. Every mistake scrutinised. He doesn’t have a nickname, but Junior is as close as we’ll get to one.
The same can be said of Julio Cesar Chavez Junior, the offspring of an even more revered former superstar. ‘The Son of The Legend’ he goes by.
Not many fighters graduate to the pinnacle of the sport from wealthy, extremely privileged backgrounds. Anthony Joshua, boxing’s latest superstar, has the obligatory tale to tell; that of hardship and a life spiralling into crime.
But there were no such humble beginnings for Chavez Jr, and to a lesser extent, Eubank Jr. His was an upbringing in full glare of an adoring public. A life not yet fully lived in a goldfish bowl.
Despite winning a couple of world titles, every time Chavez Junior came up against a world-class opponent, he fell short. The skill, and most certainly the will, to operate at the very highest level were clearly lacking.
Not one judge could find it in their cold, unforgiving souls to give Chavez Jr a single round in his defeat to Canelo Alvarez last year. 120-108 across the board. It would have been a scandal if even one had dared score it 119-109.
Chavez Junior barely threw a punch. He was schooled from the first minute to the last, in a way that his father – considered by many to be the greatest Mexican boxer of all time – would struggle to comprehend.
And whilst the privilege of guys like juniors Chavez and Eubank will irk some people, it is a burden as well as a blessing.
In the post-fight press conference, a hurt Eubank had to sit just inches away from his father – his idol, as well as his mentor – as he told the people present that Junior ‘didn’t perform’. This followed an interview in the direct aftermath, outside of Junior’s changing room where Eubank senior echoed similar sentiments.
At that moment, Junior didn’t need a ‘say it like it is’ coach, he didn’t need a spokesman. He needed a dad. He needed an arm around the shoulder and an ‘I’m proud of you son’.
No other fighters from a reasonably well-rounded family have to deal with that scrutiny from their own father. Yes, there are other fighters trained by their dad, but how many have to go out and try to step out of the shadow of a bona fide hall-of-famer blessed with more ability than them, whilst having to try to live up to the overblown hype perpetrated by the very same?
Despite falling well short, many of the failings were down to his trainer, his spokesman, his marketer, his manager; his father. But Eubank Senior would never admit that publicly and, one doubts, privately.
That will have been a lonely changing room on Saturday night for the loser. For that reason, if only for a second, we should feel a little sorry for Chris Eubank Junior.