Boxing: Derisive howls as Eubank labours

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The Independent Online
CHRIS EUBANK once again proved himself anything but a crowd-pleaser when he laboured to yet another narrow and disputed victory in defence of his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title, this time against Dan Schommer in Sun City on Saturday night.

Once again, the intensive pre-fight hype trailed off into anti-climax as Eubank paced himself rigidly throughout, making the journeyman American look a considerable threat during a forgettable 13th defence, which induced jeers and whistles of derision from an 8,000 crowd.

The margins of 117-113 and 116-113 from two judges seemed generous, and Eubank departed minus part of a front tooth, cracked in the second round.

'If they had scored it a draw or one round to Schommer, I would have not complained,' Eubank admitted. 'They must have scored for aggression. I was stronger inside, my strategy was better. It was an extremely hard fight.'

Schommer, unsurprisingly, felt aggrieved. 'I thought I outpointed him,' the 34-year- old southpaw said. 'The name of the game was boxing. He was the one missing, the one bleeding. I guess I had to knock him out to beat him.'

It seemed evident to many ringsiders that Eubank's fight preparations are beginning to show up in his poor performances. He made the weight for this fight only by taking off one of his socks at the weigh-in, drinking a jugful of fruit juice immediately after.

Shedding so much weight in the last few days before a fight not only saps the stamina, but also causes dehydration, which doctors regard as a hazard for any boxer.

His trainer, Ronnie Davies, vented his frustration after the fight. 'I have scales in his bedroom two weeks before a fight, but I can't drag him on to them,' he said. 'He is wasting his talent and chucking away his conditioning by losing weight so late before a fight. It's heartbreaking.'

Eubank, unbeaten in 42 fights, seems not to perceive a problem. 'I'm convinced I'm still preparing right,' he said. 'I've been doing it for 12 years. I don't think there was anything wrong with my stamina. I believe I'm getting better, although it may not look like that to those outside the ring. I'm doing quite well.'

Henry Wharton, who should confront Eubank with one of his toughest tests when they meet in Manchester in December, was contemptuous. 'If I was being kind, I'd have to say Eubank was very disappointing,' he said. 'The truth is he was terrible. Halfway through, I was very worried that my fight wasn't going to to come off.'